Larisa Latynina

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Larisa Latynina
— Gymnast —
Latinina portret.jpeg
Larisa Latynina in 2010
Personal information
Full name Larisa Semyonovna Latynina
Country represented  Soviet Union
Born (1934-12-27) 27 December 1934 (age 81)
Kherson, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.61 m (5 ft 3 in)
Weight 52 kg (115 lb)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior international
Gym Round Lake national training center; Burevestnik Kyiv
Retired 1966

Larisa Semyonovna Latynina (Ukrainian: Лариса Семенівна Латиніна, Russian: Лари́са Семёновна Латы́нина; born 27 December 1934) is a former Soviet gymnast. Between 1956 and 1964 she won 14 individual Olympic medals and four team medals. Her total of 18 Olympic medals was a record for 48 years until surpassed by American swimmer Michael Phelps on 31 July 2012.[1] Although Phelps broke her total medal count record, her record for individual event medals (14) still stands. She is credited with helping to establish the Soviet Union as a dominant force in gymnastics.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born as Larisa Semyonovna Diriy in Ukraine, she first practiced ballet, but turned to gymnastics after her choreographer moved out of Kherson. She graduated from high school in 1953 and moved to Kiev to attend the Lenin Polytechnic Institute and continue training, where she trained at the Burevestnik Voluntary Sports Society. At the age of 19, she debuted internationally at the 1954 Rome World Championships, winning the gold medal in the team competition.

Gymnastics career[edit]

Latynina during women's horse vault award ceremony of the artistic gymnastics at the 1964 Summer Olympics

At the 1956 Summer Olympics, she competed with Ágnes Keleti of Hungary to become the most successful gymnast of the Olympics. Latynina beat Keleti in the all-around event, and the Soviet team also won the team event. In the event finals, Latynina won gold medals on the floor (shared with Keleti) and vault, a silver medal on the uneven bars, and a bronze medal in the now discontinued team event with portable apparatus. Keleti also won six medals: four golds and two silvers.[citation needed]

After a very successful World Championships in 1958 (winning five out of six titles despite competing whilst four months pregnant), Latynina was the favorite for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.[3] In the all-around event she led the Soviet Union to take the first four places, thereby also securing a win in the team competition by a margin of nine points. Latynina defended her floor title, took silver medals in the balance beam and uneven bars events, and bronze in the vault competition.

Latynina won all-around titles at the 1962 World Championships, beating Věra Čáslavská of Czechoslovakia. Still the defending World Champion at the 1964 Summer Olympics, she was beaten by Čáslavská in the all-around competition. Latynina added two more gold medals to her tally, winning the team event and the floor event both for the third time in a row. A silver medal and two bronzes in the other apparatus events brought her total of Olympic medals to eighteen—nine gold medals, five silver and four bronze. She won a medal in every event in which she competed, except for the 1956 balance beam where she came in fourth.

Latynina's nine gold medals makes her second on the list of most Olympic gold medalists together with Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi, only behind Michael Phelps, who has 18. She held the distinction of having more Olympic medals (either individually or with a team) than anybody, from 1964 until 2012. She is the only woman to have won nine gold medals.[4] She is also the only female athlete who at some point has held the record for most Olympic gold medals. Additionally, within the sport of gymnastics, she is the only woman who has won an all-around medal in more than two Olympiads, the only woman who has won an individual event (floor exercise) in more than two Olympiads, and one of only three women who have won every individual event at either the World Championship or Olympic level. She is the only female gymnast to have won team gold, all-around gold and an event final gold at the same Olympics.[5]


She was born to Pelageya Anisimovna Barabamyuk (1902–1975) and Semyon Andreevich Diriy (1906–1943), who died in the Battle of Stalingrad. Larisa was married three times.[6] Her last and current husband is Yuri Izrailovich Feldman (b. 1938), a member of the Russian Academy of Electrotechnical Sciences and a former competitive cyclist. Her daughter from a former marriage, Tatyana Ivanovna Latynina (b. 1958), is a folk dancer. She was born only five months after her mother won a world all-around title, and seven months after her birth Latynina competed at the national championships. Latynina kept her pregnancy a secret, even from her coach. She also had a son.[5][6][7]


Latynina retired after the 1966 World Championships and became a coach for the Soviet national gymnastics team, a position she held until 1977.[7] Under her coaching the Soviet women won team gold in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics.[3] She organized the gymnastics competition at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

She is a citizen of Russia, and lives in an estate near the town of Semenovskoye.

Awards and honors[edit]

1989: Olympic Order (silver), International Olympic Committee
1998: Inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame[8]

Year Championship Medals and disciplines
1954 World Championship 1 gold medal (Teams)
1956 Melbourne Olympic Games 4 gold medals (All-Around, Teams, Floor Exercise and Vault)
1 silver medal (Bars)
1 bronze medal (Object Exercise)
1957 European Championship 5 gold medals (All-Around, Vault, Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise)
1958 World Championship 5 gold medals (Teams, All-Around, Vault, Bars and Balance Beam)
1 silver medal (Floor Exercise)
1960 Rome Olympic Games 3 gold medals (All-Around, Teams and Floor Exercise)
2 silver medals (Bars and Balance Beam)
1 bronze medal (Vault)
1961 European Championship 2 gold medals (All-Around and Floor Exercise)
2 silver medals (Bars and Balance Beam)
1962 World Championship 3 gold medals (Teams, All-Around and Floor Exercise)
2 silver medals (Vault and Balance Beam)
1 bronze medal (Bars)
1964 Tokyo Olympic Games 2 gold medals (Teams and Floor Exercise),
2 silver medals (All-Around and Vault)
2 bronze medals (Bars and Balance Beam)
1965 European Championship 4 silver medals (All-Around, Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise)
1 bronze medal (Vault)
1966 World Championship 1 silver medal (Teams)

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Legendary Olympians". CNN. 19 August 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Nick Zaccardi; Gennady Fyodorov (10 July 2012). "With her all-time record set to fall, little-known Latynina looks back". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Wallechinsky, David; Jaime Loucky (2008). The Complete Book of the Olympics: 2008 Edition. Aurum Press. p. 702. ISBN 978-1-84513-330-6. 
  5. ^ a b "Larisa Latynina". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. 
  6. ^ a b Латынина, Лариса Семёновна. Encyclopedic Dictionary
  7. ^ a b Лариса Латынина – биография.
  8. ^ "Larissa Latynina – The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Italy Edoardo Mangiarotti
Most career Olympic medals
Succeeded by
United States Michael Phelps
Preceded by
Hungary Ágnes Keleti
Most career Olympic medals by a woman
1964 – current