Olga Korbut: The Dawn of Modern Gymnastics
"I Was Inspired by No One. I Was Just Born Into Gymnastics." Olga Korbut
No one may have inspired her - but - she is responsible for inspiring millions!
Let's be honest - does anyone remember the name Ludmilla Tourischeva - the Soviet All-Round winner of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games?
Or, do you - like so many others - believe that honor was bestowed upon her teammate, Olga Korbut - the tiny dynamo credited for not only lighting a fire under the world of gymnastics - but also for holding a welcome match to the Russian/American Cold War?
In fact, Olga placed a disappointing seventh at the '72 Olympics - and yet - exactly 40 years later - she remains the Undisputed Champion when it comes to revolutionizing an entire sport!
She is single-handedly responsible for the frenzied explosion in popularity and growth that has defined gymnastics since she marched out from behind the Iron Curtain in 1972 to kick it into an entirely different stratosphere!
The four foot eleven, pig-tailed Soviet with the mega-watt smile turned a sport that was an embarrassing 'flop' for the United States of America - into a 'flipping' success!
THE KORBUT FLIP - a never-before-imagined-or-executed move on the uneven bars - brought the world - and the media - to it's collective knees at her tiny, size 6 feet!
And captured the imagination of little girls worldwide - myself included!
She followed The korbut Flip with the Korbut Salto and the Korbut Flik-Flak - creating a 'WOW factor' the sport had never before experienced!
In addition to the heavy-weight impact that this feather-weight Soviet had on the world of gymnastics - she also managed to punch a warm and fuzzy hole in the frigid ice of the American/Soviet Cold War as well!
In 1975, she was awarded the prestigious 'Gold Tuning Fork' by the United Nations for promoting understanding and improving communication between East and West - at the time locked in an untenable and unsustainable politically explosive relationship - The Cold War!
Her outgoing, spontaneous, and adorable personality - combined with that friendly, charismatic grin - was the furthest thing the world expected to see from a stoic and scary Communist!
The Big Melt had begun...
And the rest - as they say - is history!
As it is the future!
1955: Olga is born is Grodno, Belarus, USSR
1972: Wins three Olympic gold medals and one silver in Munich, Germany
- Named 'Athlete of the Year' by ABC "Wide World of Sports"
- Awarded the Soviet 'Master of Sport in Gymnastics'
1975: Named 'Woman of the Year' by the United Nations
- Named "Athlete of the Year" by Women's Sport Foundation
- Presented the 'Gold Tuning fork' Award by the United Nations
1976: Wins one Olympic gold medal and one silver in Montreal, Canada
1977: Retires from competing and takes up coaching
1979: Gives birth to Richard, her only child
1988: First inductee into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
1991: Olga and her family immigrate to the United States
1994: Named a Sport Illustrated 'Top athletes of the Past 40 Years'
1996: Offically christened 'The Mother of Gymnastics'
Present: Olga Korbut resides in Scottsdale, Arizona
- She is currently under consideration to win the award for The Most Influential Athlete of the 20th Century.
Did you know who Ludmilla Tourischeva was before reading this article?
Did you think that Olga Korbut was the 1972 Olympic Champion before reading this article?
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