Legendary Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who holds the document for essentially the most Olympic gold medals gained by a gymnast, exhibits her photos in dwelling, in village Kalyanino, Moscow area, Russia July 30, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
July 30, 2021
By Yuri Bakhnov
KALYANINO, Russia (Reuters) – When Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina competed on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, her group lived in navy barracks with communal bogs. At Tokyo 2020, Simone Biles and her U.S. group mates are staying at a resort.
Nearly six many years have handed since Latynina, now 86, clinched gold within the group occasion and ground train – two of the 9 Olympic gold medals she would win for the Soviet Union – on the first Summer season Video games held in Tokyo.
The world has modified since then, from Olympic lodging to the emergence of concern for gymnasts’ psychological well-being.
Biles, a four-time Olympic champion, had been set to problem Latynina’s document of 9 Olympic gold medals for a gymnast and maybe break her document of 32 mixed Olympic and world championship medals.
However on Tuesday, the 24-year-old American accomplished one vault at the beginning of the ladies’s group last earlier than abruptly withdrawing, citing psychological well being considerations. She additionally withdrew from the all-around last.
At her dwelling two hours exterior of Moscow, Latynina watched as Biles surprised the world along with her exit.
“In our day that will have been unacceptable,” stated Latynina, the winner of 18 Olympic medals. “I can’t think about how that’s doable.”
Biles’ transfer, inconceivable within the Soviet period or perhaps a few years in the past, has introduced psychological well being into focus at Tokyo 2020, the place the U.S. gymnast has typically acquired an outpouring of help.
Though Latynina couldn’t have fathomed such a state of affairs in her period, she acknowledged that through the years her sport has turn out to be extra bodily – and psychologically – gruelling.
“What we did is just not akin to what trendy gymnasts do,” she advised Reuters on Friday. “ what gymnasts right now do, I’m a bit of afraid. Would I’ve began gymnastics or not?”
Latynina didn’t bear in mind the Soviet gymnastics group turning to psychologists or different formal instruments to enhance focus and psychological efficiency.
She relied on encouragement and accolades from coaches and teammates. To assuage her nerves, she would stand on her tiptoes, shut her eyes and stay nonetheless.
“My coach would at all times say it doesn’t matter through which place you end,” Latynina stated. “A very powerful factor is doing what you may.”
There was stress, after all, to win medals for the Soviet Union, which used elite sport as a software to spice up its worldwide status.
However Latynina stated Soviet authorities’ want for the nation’s athletes to prime medal tables was not perceived as coercion.
“We have been making an attempt ourselves to not let our nation, our individuals down,” she stated. “We might cry when our flag was raised and nationwide anthem performed.”
(Further reporting by Evgenia Novozhenina, Alexander Reshetnikov and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Modifying by Christian Radnedge)