Polina Atskhova
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Astakhova at the 1964 Olympic Games

Full name

Polina Grigorievna Astakhova

Country represented

Flag of the Soviet Union USSR


October 30, 1936
Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR, USSR


August 5, 2005 (age 68)
Kiev, Ukraine

Current status


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.

Medal Count

1956Melbourne Olympic Games1st3rd
USSR Championships2nd3rd3rd3rd
1958Moscow World Championships1st3rd
USSR Championships3rd
1959Krakow European Championships1st1st
USSR Cup1st1st1st
USSR Championships2nd1st2nd1st2nd1st
1960Rome Olympic Games1st3rd1st2nd
USSR Cup1st
1961Leipzig European Championships2nd1st1st2nd
USSR Cup52nd3rd
USSR Championships3rd1st1st2nd
1962Prague World Championships1st
USSR Championships3rd
1963USSR Cup1st3rd1st2nd1st
USSR Championships2nd3rd1st2nd
1964Tokyo Olympic Games1st3rd1st
USSR Cup5541st
1965USSR Championships1st1st
1966Dortmund World Championships2nd
USSR Championships3rd3rd
1967USSR Championships443rd4

Olympic Uneven Bars Champions
Margit KorondiAgnes KeletiPolina AstakhovaVěra ČáslavskáKarin JanzNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckMa Yanhong | Julianne McNamaraDaniela SilivaşLu LiSvetlana KhorkinaÉmilie Le PennecHe KexinAliya Mustafina

European Uneven Bars Champions
Larisa LatyninaPolina Astakhova • Thea Belmer • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara LazakovichLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciNadia Comăneci | Elena MukhinaElena MukhinaMaxi GnauckEcaterina SzaboElena Shushunova | Oksana OmelianchikDaniela SilivaşHenrietta ÓnodiSvetlana Boginskaya | Natalia Kalinina | Mirela PaşcaTatiana GutsuSvetlana KhorkinaSvetlana Khorkina | Simona Amânar | Lilia PodkopayevaSvetlana KhorkinaÉmilie Le PennecBeth TweddleDariya ZgobaKsenia SemenovaBeth TweddleViktoria KomovaAliya MustafinaBecky DownieDaria SpiridonovaBecky DownieNina Derwael

European Balance Beam Champions
Larisa LatyninaVěra ČáslavskáPolina Astakhova • Eva Rydell • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara LazakovichLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciElena MukhinaNatalia ShaposhnikovaMaxi GnauckLavinia AgacheOksana OmelianchikDaniela SilivaşGabriela Potorac | Olesya DudnikSvetlana BoginskayaGina GogeanRoza GaliyevaYevgeniya KuznetsovaSvetlana KhorkinaLudmila EzhovaCătălina PonorYulia LozhechkoKsenia SemenovaYana DemyanchukAmelia RaceaAnna DementyevaCătălina PonorLarisa IordacheMaria KharenkovaAndreea MunteanuAliya MustafinaCătălina Ponor

European Floor Exercise Champions
Larisa LatyninaPolina AstakhovaLarisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra ČáslavskáOlga KarasyovaLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciMaria Filatova | Elena MukhinaNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckLavinia AgacheElena ShushunovaDaniela SilivaşDaniela Silivaş | Svetlana BoginskayaLilia PodkopayevaLilia Podkopayeva | Lavinia MiloşoviciCorina UngureanuLudivine Furnon • Alona Kvasha • Cătălina PonorIsabelle SeverinoSandra IzbaşaVanessa FerrariSandra IzbaşaBeth TweddleSandra IzbaşaLarisa IordacheKsenia AfanasyevaLarisa Iordache | Vanessa FerrariKsenia AfanasyevaGiulia SteingruberAngelina Melnikova

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