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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Olga Korbut

Olga Korbut was born on May 16, 1955, in Grodno, Belorussian S.S.R. (now Belarus). Her father worked as an industrial engineer and her mother as a cook.

Wax sculpture of Olga Korbut on a balance beam at Madame Tussauds, London, England.
In 1966 Korbut began attending a school that had a special government program to encourage athletes. A year later she entered a Belarusian sports school headed by coach Renald Knysh, who had coached many successful gymnasts. Korbut's first trainer there was Elena Volchetskaya, an Olympic gold medalist, but she was moved to Knysh's group a year later.

With Kynsh's help, Korbut learned a difficult backward somersault on the balance beam. She debuted this at a competition in the USSR in 1969. In the same year, Korbut completed a backflip-to-catch on the uneven bars; this was the first backward release move ever performed by a woman on bars.

In the next year she began winning Soviet and international competitions, and by 1972, at 17, Korbut was the youngest member of the Soviet gymnastics team.

Olga Korbut receiving her Olympic silver medal in 1972 after tying Erika Zuchold in the uneven bars

Korbut captivated the world at the 1972 Olympics at Munich with her lithe grace and charm. She showed emotion while competing, crying when she made a mistake or smiling happily when she did well., Korbut was also successful, winning a gold medal as a member of the winning Soviet team, as well as individual golds in the beam and floor exercises and silver for the parallel bars.

The 17-year-old stood out in Munich not only for her exciting routines and unusual moves, but also for her youth and small stature. She stood 4 feet 11 inches (1.5 meters) and weighed 85 pounds (38 kilograms) when most of the reigning champions were mature adults in their late 20s.

Korbut's Olympic achievement earned her ABC's Wide World of Sports title of Athlete of the Year and the Associated Press awarded her the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Trophy, which had not been given to a competitor from the Soviet Union or its satellite countries since 1931.

The 1976 Summer Olympics at Montreal were not so successful; Korbut was injured and her performances in the games were sub-par. She was overshadowed not only by the Romanian prodigy Nadia Com─âneci, but also by her own teammate Nellie Kim. She did help the Soviets win a team gold medal, and collected an individual silver medal for the balance beam.

Korbut graduated from the Grodno Pedagogical Institute in 1977, and retired from competition. She returned home, where she became a coach for the Belorussian State Sport Committee.

Olga Korbut during 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich on 1996 Azerbaijani stamp

She married Leonid Bortkevich, a Russian folk-rock singer, and in 1979 gave birth to a son, Richard.

Korbut and her family immigrated to the United States in 1991 and settled in Atlanta, Georgia., where she became a gymnastics coach.

Source Comptons Encyclopedia

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