Tamara Lazakovich

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Tamara Lazakovich
— Gymnast —
Tamara Lazakovich 1972.jpg
Tamara Lazakovich in 1972
Personal information
Full name Tamara Vasilyevna Lazakovich
Country represented  Soviet Union
Born 11 March 1954
Gusevo, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia
Died 1 November 1992 (aged 38)
Vitebsk, Belarus
Height 1.62 m (5 ft 4 in)
Weight 51 kg (112 lb)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Club Dynamo Vitebsk

Tamara Vasilyevna Lazakovich (Russian: Тамара Васильевна Лазакович; 11 March 1954 – 1 November 1992) was an Soviet gymnast whose competed at the European, World, and Olympic level during the early 1970s.

Described as a "perky sparrow" with a "purity of line",[1] Lazakovich was spotted by her compatriot, Olympic Champion before her, Larisa Petrik, in 1961, and brought to prominent coaches in the Belarussian system. She showed promise early on, winning many gold and silver medals at the 1968 and 1969 USSR Junior Championships. Lazakovich debuted as a senior at the 1970 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships as a part of that year's World Champion Soviet Team. A low score of 8.00 on the balance beam during the compulsory segment of the team competition dropped her down to 21st place in the all-around, the lowest ranked of the Soviet team.

In the 1971 Europeans, Lazakovich tied her teammate, European, World, and Olympic All-Around Champion Ludmilla Tourischeva for the European All-Around title. She also took two of the four individual event titles (Uneven Bars, Balance Beam), and won silver on the other two (Vault, Floor Exercise). In addition to being co-champions in the all-around, she or Tourischeva occupied the gold and silver positions on the podium on all 5 individual events, keeping German Erika Zuchold in 3rd place on 4 out of 5 of them.

The next year, at the 1972 Olympics where Tourischeva dominated the all-around and Soviet teammate Olga Korbut stole the crowd's and media's attention with her daring moves and charismatic personality, Lazakovich quietly worked her way onto the individual podium three times, winning the bronze medal in the individual all-around and floor exercise, plus winning silver on the balance beam. During the balance beam medal ceremony,Lazakovich cried when she was awarded the silver medal behind the gold medalist Olga Korbut. Tamara thought that she won the balance beam final,as she was carrying forward the highest mark. However, Korbut performed her beam routine without mishap, scoring 9.90 for the gold; Lazakovich winning silver. Her four-event total of 38.25 was the highest of any gymnast in the team compulsories segment of the competition.

She suddenly retired after the 1972 Olympics. No official reasons had been given, and there were rumors that she unsuccessfully tried to defect to Germany during the games. She then worked as a gymnastics coach in Vitebsk, but did not like this job and struggled with alcoholism. As a result, she spent several years in jail, and died aged 38.[2][3][4]

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