Larisa Semyonovna Latynina (born: December 27, 1934) is a former Soviet gymnast who won 14 Olympic medals including 9 gold medals over 3 different Olympics between 1956 and 1964. Her medal total was surpassed only by Michael Phelps after 48 years in July of 2012. She made her international debut in 1954 at the Rome World Championships winning the gold medal in team competition. Larisa Latynina helped establish the Soviet Union as a dominant force in gymnastics.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
Although Michael Phelps broke her total medal count, Latynina’s record for individual event medals (14) still stands until this day.
She has 18 Olympic medals including for teams, 14 World Championship medals (9 gold medals, 4 silver medals and 1 bronze medal) and 14 European Championship medals (7 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 1 bronze medal).
In 1998, Larisa Latynina was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Why Was She So Good?
Larisa Latynina performed with a dancer’s straight stance and traditional lines. Her traits were strong. She was gorgeous and steadfast in the uniformity of her routines. Whenever she stepped out on the floor, all eyes were on her. She demanded concentration and respect. Latynina was so dedicated to the sport that she even competed at the 1958 World Championships in Moscow while four months pregnant. Her victories are down to the fact that she was, at all times, brutally competitive.
What You May Not Know
- During her youth, she first practiced ballet but turned to gymnastics after her choreographer moved out.
- Latynina became a coach for the Soviet national gymnastics team when she retired the 1966 World Championships. Her team won gold during the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics.
- In 1980, she organized the gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games in Moscow.
Was she a legend?
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