The Story of Larissa Latynina, the Most Successful Olympic Gymnast | The Olympics On The Record

The Story of Larissa Latynina, the Most Successful Olympic Gymnast | The Olympics On The Record


Some are born great… ..some achieve greatness… ..and some have greatness
thrust upon them. And some become great because their local ballet school
closes down. That is what happened
to Larisa Latynina and it led her,
at the tender age of 11, to pursue
a significant career change. Between 1956 and 1964, Latynina dominated the sport
of gymnastics, winning 18 medals
across three Olympic Games and becoming the most decorated
Olympian of all time. Born in 1934, Latynina grew up in the Ukrainian port of
Kherson. Her grounding in ballet was
invaluable and her poise and sense
of rhythm was to help her become the
leading gymnast of her era. Two years after
her international debut came the 1956 Olympic Games
in Melbourne. Here she was up against
the Hungarian Agnes Keleti – the first in a series of
great head-to-head battles in Olympic gymnastics
in the coming years. Latynina won five medals. Keleti took gold here,
one of three that she managed. Number 71,
Larisa Latynina of Russia. Here is one of the world’s
great women gymnasts in action. Never a falter, every movement
timed and precise. A silver medal in the
uneven bars. A team gold for
the Soviet Union. An individual gold medal
in the vault. And then the floor exercise
gold medal was shared between them both. Latynina took the most
prestigious of them all – a gold medal for overall
individual performance. Her haul guaranteed
stardom back home, and also meant that
the Soviet Union beat the United States’
medal tally for the first time. Pressure at Rome 1960
was intense. There are very few sports
where athletes stay at the top from one Games to the next. In 1960, the gymnastic events were held in
the ancient ruins of the baths of Imperial Rome. The imposing ruins of the Baths
of Caracalla provide an ideal setting for a gymnastic
display. They were a perfect backdrop for the brilliant
Larisa Latynina. She won two silvers, in the balance beam
and the uneven bars, a bronze in the vault… ..and then a gold in
her best event, the floor exercise. The Soviet Union retained
their team event gold medal and, for the second time, Latynina was judged first in the individual
overall event. It was her sixth Olympic
gold medal. In Tokyo 1964,
Latynina was 30 years old but still had what it took
to compete with the best in the world. The new star was
Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska, 22 years old and
a brilliant performer. Latynina won the team event gold medal with
the Soviet Union. Caslavska won a gold medal
in the balance beam. Latynina won a silver in
the vault, with Caslavska winning gold
in that event. Caslavska took another
individual medal in the uneven bars. Latynina, amazingly, won a third consecutive gold
medal in the floor exercise. But Caslavska was the winner
of the coveted overall title. If that was a disappointment
to Latynina, she could reflect on
yet another hugely successful
Olympic Games, where she earned
two gold medals, two silvers and two bronze. That haul took her
to 18 Olympic medals, making her the most successful Olympic athlete of all time, in any discipline,
male or female. She was to hold that record for almost half a century until American swimmer
Michael Phelps finally beat it at London 2012. Latynina, 81, was there
to watch, wondering what took them
so long.

23 Replies to “The Story of Larissa Latynina, the Most Successful Olympic Gymnast | The Olympics On The Record”

  1. She is my hero. She was expecting a baby at the 1958 worlds. Five months along when she won. People compare her to biles. Biles is great. It was a different time. World's only happened once ever four years. She is a wonderful gymnast!

  2. On the one hand, she was certainly talented. On the other hand, judging at the time was suuuuuper corrupt and heavily weighted in favor of the Soviets. So…this video is kind of awkward to watch tbh.

  3. any other swimmer here who threw there fist in the air as they showed michael phelps .. n just got exited????

  4. : )))))))) Сейчас с улыбкой смотрю на упражнения того времени, на их сложность.

  5. По идее, в Советском Союзе спортсменка должна была работать на каком-нибудь заводе, например, прядильщицей. Любопытно – она где-нибудь числилась работницей?

  6. Although Latynina’s medal count is certainly impressive, it is not the determining factor for me as the best gymnast. The routine/elements difficulty is certainly different from those in 1974-1984 competitions. The most extraordinary, skilled gymnasts in my opinion are Corbut, Mukhina, and Comăneci. They performed the most difficult elements like the Corbut flip and Thomas Salto, which in fact were banned from female gymnastics because of how dangerous they were. These ladies set unparalleled standards in the history of gymnastics.

  7. Is the floor exercise surface different today? There seemed to be no bounce at all in these old routines. In fact the floor looked very hard.

  8. She Started mind you started gymnastics at the age of 11 and went in two compete in 3 Olympic Games winning a total of 18 🏅’s. That’s insane. And all started because her ballet school closed down. It’s always been said that God doesn’t close one door without opening another.

  9. hahahah, the unachievable gold winner is Alina Kabayeva- she won heart and pocket of Vladimir Putin and got 1/6 of the whole Earth (this is Russian territory)

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