|Born||7 February 1927
|Died||16 August 1975 (aged 48)
|Height||1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Weight||72 kg (159 lb)|
Kuts was born in Oleksyne, Ukraine, USSR. He started training in running in 1945, while serving in the Soviet Navy. In 1951 he won his first national titles, in the 5000 and 10000 m, an achievement he repeated in 1953–1956. His first international success came in 1954, when he defeated the favourites – Emil Zátopek and Christopher Chataway – in the 5000 m at the European Championships, setting a new world record. He lost the world record months later to Chataway (who beat him narrowly), only to take it back 10 days later.
Having lost his world record again in 1955, Kuts was still one of the favourites for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. His chief opponent in the 5000 m was British runner Gordon Pirie, who had broken the world record earlier that year. However, Kuts had set a new 10,000 metres world record shortly before the Games. In the first final, the 10,000 m, Kuts – as always – led from the start, finally breaking Pirie's spirit 4 laps from the end and winning by a wide margin. He broke away from Pirie with a final, desperate sprint, having briefly surrendered the lead and admitted later that had Pirie stayed with him on that sprint, he would probably have dropped out as he was then so tired. The 5,000 m final (5 days later) ended in a similar fashion, with Kuts leading from start to finish.
Kuts improved the 5000 m world record in 1957 to 13:35.0 minutes, a time which would remain unbeaten until 1965, when it was bettered by Australia's, Ron Clarke. Although he was only beaten on a couple of occasions, Kuts retired at the age of 32 in 1959. He had often suffered from stomach pains and although he had denied that he had had operations, he found training difficult. That was confirmed by the fact that former runners who met him, in his later years, said that he looked badly overweight.
After retirement, Kuts worked as an athletics coach. His stomach pains led to alcoholism and loss of job. Kuts suffered a stroke in 1972 and died in 1975, in an apparent suicide from mixing sleeping pills and alcohol.
- Vladimir Kuts (1962). From a Newbie to Master of Sport (in Russian). Moscow: Voenizdat.
|Men's 5000 m World Record Holder
29 August 1954 – 13 October 1954
23 October 1954 – 10 September 1955
18 September 1955 – 23 October 1955
13 October 1957 – 16 January 1965
|Men's 10,000 m World Record Holder
11 September 1956 – 15 October 1960