Natalia Kuchinskaya

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Natalia Kuchinskaya
Natalia Kuchinskaya 1967k.jpg
Natalia Kuchinskaya in 1967
Personal information
Full name Natalia Alexandrovna Kuchinskaya
Nickname(s) Natasha
Country represented  Soviet Union
Born (1949-03-08) March 8, 1949 (age 69)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Height 1.58 m (5 ft 2 in)
Weight 48 kg (106 lb)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior international
Gym Round Lake national training center
Former coach(es) Vladimir Reyson, Larisa Latynina
Retired 1968

Natalia Alexandrovna Kuchinskaya (Russian: Наталья Александровна Кучинская; alternative transliteration Natal'ja Alieksandrovna Kutchinskaja), also known as Natasha Kuchinskaya (Russian: Наташа Кучинская) (born March 8, 1949) is a retired Soviet Olympic gymnast. She won four medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Gymnastics career[edit]

Kuchinskaya was born on March 8, 1949 in Leningrad and was selected for a gymnastics class while still in kindergarten.[1] She originally aspired to become a ballet dancer, but was convinced to study gymnastics by her parents, who were both involved with the sport.[1] She trained with Vladimir Reyson and later national team coach Larisa Latynina, who was said to consider Kuchinskaya one of her favorite gymnasts.[2]

By 1965, at age 16, Kuchinskaya was the USSR national champion. At the 1966 World Championships, after winning her second Nationals title, the USSR Cup and the World Trials, she established herself as one of the stars of the Soviet team, winning gold medals in three of the four event finals (balance beam, uneven bars and floor exercise), a bronze on vault, and silvers in the all-around and team events. Kuchinskaya continued her winning streak in 1967, when she won the pre-Olympic test event in Mexico City and swept the USSR Nationals, walking away with the all-around title and every single event final gold medal.[3]

At the 1968 Olympics, Kuchinskaya was arguably the most popular member of the Soviet team. She placed third in the all-around, behind Věra Čáslavská and her teammate Zinaida Voronina; she also shared in the team gold medal and won the balance beam title and a bronze on the floor exercise. She was dubbed "The Bride of Mexico" and "the Sweetheart of Mexico" by the admiring press and was serenaded with a folk song, "Natalie," during her stay in Mexico City.[2][4][5]

The Olympics was Kuchinskaya's final competition. At the time, her sudden departure from gymnastics was attributed to a thyroid illness;[4] in an interview in the late 90s Kuchinskaya also revealed that she had lost her motivation for the sport.[1]

Later life[edit]

Following her retirement, Kuchinskaya coached in the USSR, Japan and the United States. She has been married since 1980 to optician Alexander Kotliar and currently lives and coaches in the USA, running her own gymnastics club in Illinois.[4][6] In 1999 she appeared on the "Soviet Sport War" episode of the PBS documentary The Red Files discussing her experiences in gymnastics.[1] In 2006, she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.[4]


Year Event AA Team VT UB BB FX
1965 USSR Championships 1st 1st
USSR Cup 2nd
1966 World Championships 2nd 2nd 3rd 1st 1st 1st
USSR Championships 1st 2nd 1st 1st
USSR Cup 1st
1967 European Championships 2nd 2nd
USSR Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
1968 USSR Championships 1st


Natalia Kuchinskaya 1967b.jpg Natalia Kuchinskaya 1966c.jpg Natalia Kuchinskaya 1967g2.jpg Natalia Kuchinskaya 1967c.jpg


  1. ^ a b c d "Interview with Natalia Kuchinskaya". The Red Files supplementary material, PBS. 1999. Retrieved 2008-01-01.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Soviet Sports Wars(transcript)" (DOC). PBS. April 1999. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  3. ^ "List of competitive results". Gymn-Forum. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  4. ^ a b c d "Legends: Natalia Kuchinskaya". International Gymnast. Retrieved 2008-01-01. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "legends" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ "Do favorites always win?". Sport in the USSR. August 1988. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  6. ^ "International Gymnastics home page". Archived from the original on 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2008-01-01.

External links[edit]