Larisa Semyonovna Latynina (Russian: Лари́са Семёновна Латы́нина; born December 27, 1934 in Kherson, Ukrainian SSR) is a Russian-Ukrainian and former Soviet gymnast who was the only female athlete to win nine Olympic gold medals. Her total of 18 Olympic medals was a record for 48 years until surpassed by American swimmer Michael Phelps on July 31, 2012. Although Phelps broke her total medal count record, her record for individual event medals (14) still stands. She is credited with helping to establish the Soviet Union as a dominant force in gymnastics.
Born Larisa Semyonovna Diriy (Лариса Семёновна Дирий), she first practiced ballet, but turned to gymnastics after her choreographer moved out of town. She graduated from high school in 1953 and moved to Kiev to attend the Lenin Polytechnic Institute and continue training. There Latynina trained at the Burevestnik Voluntary Sports Society. At the age of 19, she debuted internationally at the 1954 Rome World Championships, winning the gold medal in the team competition.
At the 1956 Summer Olympics, she competed with Ágnes Keleti of Hungary to become the most successful gymnast of the Olympics. Latynina beat Keleti in the all-around event, and the Soviet team also won the team event. In the event finals, Latynina won gold medals on the floor (shared with Keleti) and vault, a silver medal on the uneven bars, and a bronze medal in the now discontinued team event with portable apparatus. Keleti also won six medals: four golds and two silvers. After a very successful World Championships in 1958 (winning five out of six titles despite competing whilst pregnant), Latynina was the favorite for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. In the all-around event she led the Soviet Union to take the first four places, thereby also securing a win in the team competition by a margin of nine points. Latynina also successfully defended her floor title, took silver medals in the balance beam and uneven bars events, and bronze in the vault competition.
Latynina won all-around titles at the 1962 World Championships, beating Věra Čáslavská of Czechoslovakia. Still the defending World Champion at the 1964 Summer Olympics, she was beaten by Čáslavská in the all-around competition. Latynina did however add two more gold medals to her tally, winning the team event and the floor event both for the third time in a row. A silver medal and two bronzes in the other apparatus events brought her total of Olympic medals to eighteen — nine gold medals, five silver and four bronze. She won a medal in every event in which she competed, except for the 1956 balance beam where she came fourth. Her nine gold medals makes her second on the list of most Olympic gold medalists together with Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi, only behind Michael Phelps, who has 18; she held the distinction of having more Olympic gold medals (either individually or with a team) than anybody ever, from 1964 to 2008, until Michael Phelps beat her record. She is the only woman to have won nine gold medals. She is also the only female athlete who at some point has held the record for most Olympic gold medals. Additionally, within the sport of gymnastics, she is the only woman who has won an all-around medal in more than 2 Olympiads and the only woman who has won an individual event (floor exercise) in more than 2 Olympiads (1956, 1960, and 1964 for both of those accomplishments), one of only three women who have won every individual event at either the world or olympic level in every individual event, and she holds many other such distinguishing records.
Latynina retired after the 1966 World Championships and became a coach for the Soviet national gymnastics team, a position she held until 1977. She organized the gymnastics competition at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, and around the year 2000 appeared in the "Soviet Sports Wars" episode of the PBS documentary The Red Files, discussing her experiences as a gymnast and Soviet coach.
She is a citizen of Russia, and lives in her estate near the town Semenovskoye, Moscow region.
|1954||Rome World Championships||1st|
|1956||Melbourne Olympic Games||1st||3rd||1st||1st||2nd||1st|
|1957||Bucharest European Championships||1st||1st||1st||1st||1st|
|1958||Moscow World Championships||1st||1st||1st||1st||1st||2nd|
|1960||Rome Olympic Games||1st||1st||3rd||2nd||2nd||1st|
|1961||Leipzig European Championships||1st||2nd||2nd||1st|
|1962||Prague World Championships||1st||1st||2nd||3rd||2nd||1st|
|USSR Championships (May)||2nd||2nd|
|USSR Championships (November)||5||1st|
|1963||Porto Alegre Summer Universiade||2nd||1st|
|1964||Tokyo Olympic Games||1st||2nd||2nd||3rd||3rd||1st|
|1965||Sofia European Championships||2nd||3rd||2nd||2nd||2nd|
|1966||Dortmund World Championships||2nd|
|Olympic All-Around Champions|
|Maria Gorokhovskaya • Larisa Latynina • Věra Čáslavská • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nadia Comăneci • Elena Davydova • Mary Lou Retton • Elena Shushunova • Tatiana Gutsu • Lilia Podkopayeva • Andreea Răducan* Simona Amânar • Carly Patterson • Nastia Liukin • Gabby Douglas|
|Olympic Vault Champions|
|Ekaterina Kalinchuk • Larisa Latynina • Margarita Nikolaeva • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Nellie Kim • Natalia Shaposhnikova • Ecaterina Szabo • Svetlana Boginskaya • Lavinia Miloşovici | Henrietta Ónodi • Simona Amânar • Elena Zamolodchikova • Monica Roşu • Hong Un-Jong • Sandra Izbaşa|
|Olympic Floor Exercise Champions|
|Agnes Keleti • Agnes Keleti | Larisa Latynina • Larisa Latynina • Věra Čáslavská | Larisa Petrik • Olga Korbut • Nellie Kim • Nellie Kim | Nadia Comăneci • Ecaterina Szabo • Daniela Silivaş • Lavinia Miloşovici • Lilia Podkopayeva • Elena Zamolodchikova • Cătălina Ponor • Sandra Izbaşa • Aly Raisman|
|World All-Around Champions|
|Vlasta Děkanová • Helena Rakoczy • Galina Rudko • Larisa Latynina • Věra Čáslavská • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Elena Mukhina • Nellie Kim • Olga Bicherova • Natalia Yurchenko • Elena Shushunova | Oksana Omelianchik • Aurelia Dobre • Svetlana Boginskaya • Kim Zmeskal • Shannon Miller • Lilia Podkopayeva • Svetlana Khorkina • Maria Olaru • Svetlana Khorkina • Chellsie Memmel • Vanessa Ferrari • Shawn Johnson • Bridget Sloan • Aliya Mustafina • Jordyn Wieber • Simone Biles|
|World Vault Champions|
|Vlasta Děkanová • Helena Rakoczy • Anna Petersen • Larisa Latynina • Věra Čáslavská • Erika Zuchold • Olga Korbut • Nellie Kim • Dumitriţa Turner • Maxi Gnauck • Boriana Stoyanova • Elena Shushunova • Olesya Dudnik • Lavinia Miloşovici • Henrietta Ónodi • Elena Piskun • Gina Gogean • Simona Amânar | Lilia Podkopayeva • Gina Gogean • Simona Amânar • Elena Zamolodchikova • Svetlana Khorkina • Elena Zamolodchikova • Oksana Chusovitina • Cheng Fei • Kayla Williams • Alicia Sacramone • McKayla Maroney • Hong Un-Jong|
|World Uneven Bars Champions|
|Vlasta Děkanová | Matylda Pálfyová • Anna Petersen | Gertchen Kolar • Agnes Keleti • Larisa Latynina • Irina Pervushina • Natalia Kuchinskaya • Karin Janz • Annelore Zinke • Marcia Frederick • Ma Yanhong • Maxi Gnauck • Gabriele Faehnrich • Dörte Thümmler | Daniela Silivaş • Daniela Silivaş | Fan Di • Kim Gwang-Suk • Lavinia Miloşovici • Shannon Miller • Luo Li • Svetlana Khorkina • Svetlana Khorkina | Elena Piskun • Svetlana Khorkina • Courtney Kupets • Chellsie Memmel | Hollie Vise • Nastia Liukin • Beth Tweddle • Ksenia Semenova • He Kexin • Beth Tweddle • Viktoria Komova • Huang Huidan • Yao Jinnan|
|World Balance Beam Champions|
|Vlasta Děkanová • Helena Rakoczy • Keiko Tanaka • Larisa Latynina • Eva Bosáková • Natalia Kuchinskaya • Erika Zuchold • Nellie Kim • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nadia Comăneci • Vera Cerna • Maxi Gnauck • Olga Mostepanova • Daniela Silivaş • Aurelia Dobre • Daniela Silivaş • Svetlana Boginskaya • Kim Zmeskal • Lavinia Miloşovici • Shannon Miller • Mo Huilan • Dina Kochetkova • Gina Gogean • Ling Jie • Andreea Răducan • Ashley Postell • Fan Ye • Nastia Liukin • Iryna Krasnianska • Nastia Liukin • Deng Linlin • Ana Porgras • Sui Lu • Aliya Mustafina • Simone Biles|
|World Floor Exercise Champions|
|Matylda Pálfyová • Helena Rakoczy • Tamara Manina • Eva Bosáková • Larisa Latynina • Natalia Kuchinskaya • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nellie Kim | Elena Mukhina • Emilia Eberle • Natalia Ilienko • Ecaterina Szabo • Oksana Omelianchik • Daniela Silivaş | Elena Shushunova • Daniela Silivaş | Svetlana Boginskaya • Cristina Bontaş • Kim Zmeskal • Shannon Miller • Dina Kochetkova • Gina Gogean • Gina Gogean | Kui Yuanyuan • Gina Gogean • Andreea Răducan • Elena Gómez • Daiane Dos Santos • Alicia Sacramone • Cheng Fei • Shawn Johnson • Beth Tweddle • Lauren Mitchell • Ksenia Afanasyeva • Simone Biles|
|European All-Around Champions|
|Larisa Latynina • Natalia Kot • Larisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Tamara Lazakovich | Ludmilla Tourischeva • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nadia Comăneci • Maxi Gnauck • Olga Bicherova • Elena Shushunova • Daniela Silivaş • Svetlana Boginskaya • Tatiana Gutsu • Gina Gogean • Lilia Podkopayeva • Svetlana Khorkina • Alina Kozich • Marine Debauve • Vanessa Ferrari • Ksenia Semenova • Anna Dementyeva • Aliya Mustafina • Giulia Steingruber|
|European Vault Champions|
|Larisa Latynina • Natalia Kot • Ute Starke • Solveig Egman • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Ludmilla Tourischeva | Angelika Hellmann • Nellie Kim • Nadia Comăneci • Cristina Grigoraş • Olga Bicherova • Elena Shushunova • Svetlana Boginskaya • Tatiana Gutsu • Lavinia Miloşovici • Simona Amânar • Adrienn Varga • Simona Amânar • Natalia Ziganshina • Monica Roşu • Francesca Benolli • Anna Grudko • Carlotta Giovannini • Oksana Chusovitina • Ariella Kaeslin • Ekaterina Kurbatova • Sandra Izbaşa • Giulia Steingruber • Maria Paseka|
|European Uneven Bars Champions|
|Larisa Latynina • Polina Astakhova • Thea Belmer • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Tamara Lazakovich • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nadia Comăneci • Nadia Comăneci | Elena Mukhina • Elena Mukhina • Maxi Gnauck • Ecaterina Szabo • Elena Shushunova | Oksana Omelianchik • Daniela Silivaş • Henrietta Ónodi • Svetlana Boginskaya | Natalia Kalinina | Mirela Paşca • Tatiana Gutsu • Svetlana Khorkina • Svetlana Khorkina | Simona Amânar | Lilia Podkopayeva • Svetlana Khorkina • Émilie Le Pennec • Beth Tweddle • Dariya Zgoba • Ksenia Semenova • Beth Tweddle • Viktoria Komova • Aliya Mustafina • Becky Downie • Daria Spiridonova|
|European Balance Beam Champions|
|Larisa Latynina • Věra Čáslavská • Polina Astakhova • Eva Rydell • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Tamara Lazakovich • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nadia Comăneci • Elena Mukhina • Natalia Shaposhnikova • Maxi Gnauck • Lavinia Agache • Oksana Omelianchik • Daniela Silivaş • Gabriela Potorac | Olesya Dudnik • Svetlana Boginskaya • Gina Gogean • Roza Galiyeva • Yevgeniya Kuznetsova • Svetlana Khorkina • Ludmila Ezhova • Cătălina Ponor • Yulia Lozhechko • Ksenia Semenova • Yana Demyanchuk • Amelia Racea • Anna Dementyeva • Cătălina Ponor • Larisa Iordache • Maria Kharenkova • Andreea Munteanu|
|European Floor Exercise Champions|
|Larisa Latynina • Polina Astakhova • Larisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra Čáslavská • Olga Karasyova • Ludmilla Tourischeva • Nadia Comăneci • Maria Filatova | Elena Mukhina • Nadia Comăneci • Maxi Gnauck • Lavinia Agache • Elena Shushunova • Daniela Silivaş • Daniela Silivaş | Svetlana Boginskaya • Lilia Podkopayeva • Lilia Podkopayeva | Lavinia Miloşovici • Corina Ungureanu • Ludivine Furnon • Alona Kvasha • Cătălina Ponor • Isabelle Severino • Sandra Izbaşa • Vanessa Ferrari • Sandra Izbaşa • Beth Tweddle • Sandra Izbaşa • Larisa Iordache • Ksenia Afanasyeva • Larisa Iordache | Vanessa Ferrari • Ksenia Afanasyeva|