DOI link for After Olga
After Olga book
Over thirty years after the Munich Olympics of 1972, the name of Olga Korbut still tops the list when we enter debate with our university student-teachers about key inﬂuential people in the world of gymnastics. She did not win the coveted allaround championship title that year, which went to Ludmilla Tourisheva, but she won gold on beam and ﬂoor, which was an outstanding performance for someone who had travelled as a reserve on the Soviet team (Wright 1980: 137). More signiﬁcantly, Olga became a ‘superstar’ through her charismatic personality, skill, daring, originality, courage, emotion and fallibility. The audience loved her childlike qualities and her breathtaking routines, smiles and tears, beamed around the world by the media, transformed women’s artistic gymnastics. As Moran (1978: 2) wrote: ‘The world of gymnastics must acknowledge her enormous contribution to the sport for it is possible that we will never see the like again.’ Olga Korbut’s success led both to accolades and to controversies. She was exploited internationally by the Soviets for political reasons while, in the sport, coaches and judges were divided on the risky, original skills she produced. Tensions arose between those wanting to ensure the sport retained a safe, mature, artistic dimension and those who welcomed the excitement of adventurous new risky acrobatic skills that challenged previous boundaries of human potential.