In this article we want to recall the most incredible athletes of our country who brought home a record number of Olympic gold medals and still remain the undisputed leaders in this championship.
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Latynina Larisa, gymnastics
Larina Latynina is one of the most famous Russian figures in the history of the Olympic Games. To date, she retains the position of the only gymnast who has won three Olympic Games in a row: in Melbourne (1956), in Rome (1960) and in Tokyo (1964). She is a unique athlete who has 18 Olympic medals, among which the largest number of gold – 9 pieces. Larisa’s sports career began in 1950. While still a schoolgirl, Larisa performed the first category as part of the national team of Ukraine, after which she went to the All-Union championship in Kazan. Thanks to the subsequent intensive training, Latynina fulfilled the Master of Sports standard in the 9th grade. After graduation, Larisa was sent a call to the All-Union training camp in Brattsevo, where the USSR national team was preparing for the World Festival of Youth and Students in Bucharest. The young athlete passed the qualifying competitions with dignity and then received a wool suit with a white “Olympic” stripe on her neck and the letters “USSR”.
Larisa Latynina received her first international gold medals in Romania. And on December 3 , 1956 , Larisa went to the Olympics in a team with P. Astakhova, L. Kalinina, T. Manina, S. Muratova, L. Egorova. It is worth noting that all the participants of the composition made their debut at the Olympics. And there, in Melbourne, Larisa became an absolute Olympic champion. And already in 1964 Larisa Latynina went down in history as the owner of 18 Olympic awards.
Egorova Lyubov, skiing
Lyubov Egorova is a six-time Olympic champion in cross–country skiing (1992 – at distances of 10 and 15 km and as part of the national team, 1994 – at distances of 5 and 10 km and as part of the national team), multiple world champion, winner of the 1993 World Cup. The athlete was recognized as the best athlete of Russia in 1994.
Back at school, Lyubov discovered a passion for skiing. Already in the 6th grade, she studied under the guidance of coach Nikolai Kharitonov. She took part in various city competitions many times. At the age of 20, Lyubov joined the USSR national team. In 1991, at the World Championships in Kavales, the first success of a skier happened. Lyubov became the world champion in the relay, and then showed the best time in the 30-kilometer race. Despite the fact that in the 15-kilometer race, the skier came eleventh, already in the relay Egorova overtook all her rivals, and at a distance of 30 km she became the best (time – 1 hour 20 min 26.8 s) and received a gold medal.
In 1992, Lyubov took part in the Olympic Games in France, where she managed to get a gold medal in the 15-kilometer race. She also won the gold medal in the 10-kilometer race and in the relay. In 1994, in Norway, at the Winter Olympics, Egorova came first at a distance of 5 km. In the 10 km race, the Russian athlete was fighting a strong opponent from Italy, who gave up only closer to the finish, allowing Egorova to get “gold”. And in the 4×5 km relay, the Russian girls proved themselves again and took first place. As a result, Lyubov Egorova once again becomes a three-time Olympic champion at the Norwegian Winter Games. Upon returning to St. Petersburg, the six-time Olympic champion was greeted with all honors: Anatoly Sobchak handed the winner the keys to a new apartment, and by Decree of the President of Russia, the famous racer was awarded the title of Hero of Russia.
Lydia Skoblikova, speed skating
Lidiya Pavlovna Skoblikova is a legendary Soviet speed skater, the only six—time Olympic champion in the history of speed skating, the absolute champion of the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck. Even at school, Lida was seriously engaged in skiing, participating in the section from the third grade. But after several years of training and hard work, skiing seemed to Skoblikova to be too slow a sport. The athlete came to speed skating by accident. One day, her skating friend asked her to participate in a city competition with her. Skoblikova had neither experience nor serious training, but participation in those competitions turned out to be successful for her, and she took first place.
The first victory of the young skater happened in January 1957, in the championship of Russia among girls. After this victory, Lydia began to train even harder. And in 1960, in Squaw Valley, at the Winter Olympics, Lydia was able to leave behind all the strong athletes, moreover, she won with a world record. At the same Olympics, the speed skater managed to get another gold for a distance of three kilometers. And at the Olympic Games in Innsbruck (1964, Austria), Skoblikova showed an incredible result in the history of speed skating, winning all four distances, and at the same time set Olympic records on three (500, 1000 and 1500 m). In the same 1964, Skoblikova convincingly won the Speed Skating World Championship (Sweden), again winning all four distances. Such an achievement (8 gold medals out of 8) cannot be surpassed, it can only be repeated. In 1964, she was awarded the second Order of the Red Banner of Labor.
Anastasia Davydova, synchronized swimming
Anastasia Davydova is the only athlete in history who has won 5 Olympic gold medals, competing under the flag of Russia, and the only five–time Olympic champion in the history of synchronized swimming. Initially, Anastasia was engaged in rhythmic gymnastics, but later, with the help of her mother, Davydova began to attend synchronized swimming training. And already in 2000, at the age of 17, Anastasia immediately won the highest award in the group program at the European Championships in Helsinki.
And Anastasia won all her Olympic duet awards in a pair with another famous synchronized swimmer – Anastasia Ermakova. At her first Olympic Games, held in Athens, Davydova won two gold awards. At the Beijing Olympics, held in 2008, synchronized swimmers repeated their triumph and won two more gold medals. In 2010, the International Aquatics Federation recognized Anastasia as the best synchronized swimmer of the decade. The 2012 Olympic Games, which took place in London, made Anastasia Davydova a record holder – she became the only five-time Olympic champion in synchronized swimming in history. At the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, she was entrusted to carry the flag of the Russian national team.
Alexander Popov, swimming
Alexander Popov is a Soviet and Russian swimmer, four-time Olympic champion, six-time world champion, 21-time European champion, a legend of Soviet and Russian sports. Alexander got into the sports section by accident: his parents took their son to swim just like that, “for health.” And this event turned into incredible victories for Popov in the future. Training increasingly attracted the future champion, taking away all his free time, which negatively affected the young athlete’s studies. But it was already too late to stop playing sports for the sake of grades in school disciplines. At the age of 20, Popov won his first victories, they turned out to be 4 gold medals at once. It happened at the European Championship in 1991, which was held in Athens. He managed to win at distances of 50 and 100 meters in two relay races. This year brought the first victory in a series of brilliant achievements of the Soviet swimmer.
Brought worldwide fame to the swimmer The 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta. Alexander snatched two gold medals for 50 and 100 meters. This victory turned out to be especially bright for the reason that it was promised to the American swimmer Gary Hall, who was then in his best shape and beat Alexander in the preliminary competitions. The Americans were confident of victory, openly declared it in the press, even Bill Clinton and his family came to support their athlete! But the “gold” turned out to be in the hands not of Hall, but of Popov. The disappointment of the Americans, who savored their victory in advance, was huge. And then Alexander became a legend.
Stanislav Pozdnyakov, fencing
Stanislav Alekseevich Pozdnyakov is a Soviet and Russian sabre fencer, four—time Olympic champion, 10-time world champion, 13-time European champion, five-time World Cup winner, five-time Russian champion (in individual competitions) in sabre fencing. As a child, Stanislav was very active – he played football, swam, skated in winter, played hockey. For some time, the young athlete continued to do everything at once, rushing from one sport to another. But one day my mother took Pozdnyakov to the Spartak stadium, where the Olympic Reserve fencing school for children and youth was located. The phrase “Olympic reserve” bribed his parents, and Stanislav began to study there. Under the guidance of mentor Boris Leonidovich Pisetsky, Stanislav began to learn the fencing alphabet. The young swordsman showed character in duels and always tried to win by all means.
Pozdnyakov made his first successes at the All-Russian and All-Union level in Novosibirsk, in youth tournaments. Then he made his way to the national team of the United Team of Independent States and went to Barcelona for his first Olympic Games. And in 1996, in Atlanta, he achieved absolute success, winning gold in both individual and team tournaments.
Alexander Tikhonov, biathlon
Alexander Tikhonov is the pride of world and domestic sports, the star of biathlon, the winner of four Olympic Games, an outstanding champion. With the diagnosis of congenital heart disease, Alexander became an outstanding athlete of our country. Skiing has been present in the life of the future Olympic champion since childhood. The example of four sons was given by their parents: mother Nina Evlampievna, who worked as an accountant, and father Ivan Grigorievich, who taught physical education at school. Repeatedly participating in regional ski competitions held among teachers, he became the winner. At the age of 19, Alexander won the junior ski competitions of the Union scale at a distance of 10 and 15 km. 1966 became very significant in the fate of the athlete, because this year Tikhonov suffered a leg injury and switched to a career as a biathlete.
Alexander ‘s debut happened in 1968 in Grenoble, where the Olympic Games were held. A young, unknown athlete wins a silver medal in the 20 km race, losing half a millimeter to Norwegian Magne Solberg in shooting – the price of two penalty minutes and a gold medal. After this performance, Alexander is entrusted with the first stage in the relay, which the Olympic champion, the famous Vladimir Melanyin, was supposed to run. Thanks to his confident shooting and daring running, Tikhonov gets the title of Olympic champion! The Olympic Games in Lake Placid in 1980 were the fourth and last for Tikhonov. At the opening ceremony, Alexander carried the banner of his country. It was this Olympics that became the golden crown of his long journey in sports. Then Tikhonov became the first four-time winner of the Olympic Games in the history of Russian sports, after which, at the age of 33, he had to decide to end his sports career.
Lake Placid, 1980
The materials translated into English by Vladimir Grebnev