Valeriy Nikolayevich Brumel (Russian: Валерий Николаевич Брумель; 14 April 1942 – 26 January 2003) was a Soviet high jumper. The 1964 Olympic champion and multiple world record holder, he is regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever to compete in the high jump. His international career was ended by a motorcycle accident in 1965.
Brumel was born in a far eastern Siberian village to a family of geologists exploring the region. They later moved to Lugansk and taught at a local university. Brumel took up the high jump at 12 in Lugansk, coached by P. S. Shtein. Aged 16 he cleared 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) using the then dominant straight-leg straddle technique. He improved his skills under the coaching of V. M. Dyachkov in Moscow. In 1960 he broke the USSR record, 2.17 metres (7 ft 1 in), and was selected to the Olympic team. At the 1960 Summer Olympics, he cleared the same height as the winner Robert Shavlakadze, but made more attempts and thus was awarded a silver medal. In 1961–1963 he broke the world record in the high jump six times, improving it from 2.23 metres (7 ft 4 in) to 2.28 metres (7 ft 6 in). He also won the high jump at the 1961 and 1963 Universiade, 1962 European Championships, the 1964 Summer Olympics and the USSR Championships of 1961–1963.
After going undefeated during the 1965 season, Brumel suffered a multiple fracture in his right foot in a motorcycle accident, and faced an amputation. He was operated on successfully by professor Gavriil Ilizarov with a new leg-lengthening procedure using his external fixator. Yet even after 29 surgeries he could not fully recover. He retired in 1970 after jumping 2.06 metres (6 ft 9 in) at local competitions.
In retirement Brumel turned to acting and writing. He starred in the films Sport, Sport, Sport (1970) and The Right to Jump (1971) and wrote numerous novels and plays, including the novel Don't Change Yourself (1979), which was translated into seven languages, and the libretto to Rauf Hajiyev's operetta Golden Caravel (Золотая каравелла).
Brumel had two brothers, Oleg (1944–2005) and Igor, a Russian politician born in 1952 in Rostov. Brumel was married three times. His first wife, rhythmic gymnast Svetlana Lazareva, left him with a son in 1965, when Brumel was recovering from his motorcycle accident. In 1973 Brumel married Yelena Petushkova, an equestrian and 1972 Olympic champion in dressage. The couple divorced 18 months later citing irreconcilable differences. They had a daughter, Vlada Petushkova, born in 1974, who was raised by her mother. In 1992 Brumel married Svetlana Belousova, who later founded and managed the Valeriy Brumel Fund. They had a son Viktor.