Astakhova at the 1964 Olympic Games
Polina Grigorievna Astakhova
October 30, 1936
August 5, 2005 (age 68)
Polina Astakhova (Ukrainian: Поліна Григорівна Астахова, Polina Grigorivna Astakhova; Russian: Полина Григорьевна Астахова, Polina Grigoryevna Astakhova) (October 30, 1936, in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR – August 5, 2005 in Kiev, Ukraine) was a Soviet/Ukrainian gymnast who won ten medals (five gold medals, two silver medals and three bronze medals) at the Summer Olympics, where she participated as a member of the USSR team in 1956, 1960 and 1964.
Astakhova became interested in artistic gymnastics at age 13, after she had watched the gymnastics championships in Donetsk, a city, where their family moved a short time before. She trained in the local gymnastics sports club Shakhtyor, where her trainer was the Honoured Trainer of the USSR Vladimir Alieksandrovitch Smirnov.
Astakhova earned a nickname The Russian Birch in Western countries for her exceptional grace, and at the 1960 Olympics she was even called Madonna by the Italian journalists. Between 1956 and 1966 Astakhova was on top of many international and national competitions especially on the uneven bars apparatus event. She was a member of the USSR team between 1955 and 1968.
In 1954 Astakhova competed in the USSR Championships for the first time and in a year she made the USSR National team at the 1956 Summer Olympics. She was the youngest team member and contributed to the team's gold. At the 1960 Summer Olympics Olympics in Rome she led in the all-around, but lost a whole point for a fall on beam, which was the seventh routine of eight contested. She was very disappointed by the accident and even did not compete that year, although in Rome she won the gold in the team competition and on the bars, silver on the floor and bronze in the all-around. She recovered after the 1961 European Championships, where she won gold medals on the bars and on beam. Competing in the 1964 Summer Olympics, Astakhova contributed to the team's gold, won on the bars, was second on the floor and third in the all-around.
After she finished her career, since 1972 she worked as the USSR State Trainer for Ukrainian SSR for some time. In 2002 she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Astakhova spent the last years of her life in Kiev, Ukraine before her death at age 68 from undisclosed causes.
|1956||Melbourne Olympic Games||1st||3rd|
|1958||Moscow World Championships||1st||3rd|
|1959||Krakow European Championships||1st||1st|
|1960||Rome Olympic Games||1st||3rd||1st||2nd|
|1961||Leipzig European Championships||2nd||1st||1st||2nd|
|1962||Prague World Championships||1st|
|1964||Tokyo Olympic Games||1st||3rd||1st|
|1966||Dortmund World Championships||2nd|
|Olympic Uneven Bars Champions|
|Margit Korondi • Agnes Keleti • Polina Astakhova • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Nadia Comăneci • Maxi Gnauck • Ma Yanhong | Julianne McNamara • Daniela Silivaş • Lu Li • Svetlana Khorkina • Émilie Le Pennec • He Kexin • Aliya Mustafina|
|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 • Becky Downie • Nina Derwael|
|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 • Aliya Mustafina • Cătălina Ponor|
|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 • Giulia Steingruber • Angelina Melnikova|