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Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Olga Korbut – Sparrow from Minsk

olga korbut
Olga Korbut is a Soviet gymnast, four-time Olympic champion, Merited Master of Sports of the USSR (1972).
She was born on May 16, 1955 in Grodno, Belorussian SSR, USSR. In 1963, little Olga was engaged in gymnastic and by the end of the 1960s was among the best Soviet gymnasts.
In 1965, Renald Knish became a coach of a 10-year-old girl. He helped Olga to become a star of the All-Union Games, won the USSR championship and go to her first Olympic Games in 1972.
Only a quarter century later, after her victory became known that her drunk coach came into the room of the 18-year-old girl, where he beat and raped her for several hours.

In 1969, Olga took part in the USSR championships, where she was allowed to compete as an underage 15 year old.
The first big success came in 1970 – she became a champion of the USSR and joined the USSR national team.
At the Munich Olympics in 1972 Korbut demonstrated innovative gymnastic elements and became a favorite of audience.
In 1973, Korbut won a silver medal at the European Championship and in 1975 she became the absolute champion of the USSR.

korbut london 1975

Olga in London. 1975


She became the first gymnast, who managed to make a somersault on the balance beam.
In 1977, Olga graduated from the Grodno State Pedagogical Institute.
Olga was active in relief efforts in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986, which took place near her home in Minsk.
In 1988, Korbut was the first gymnast to be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Her Olympic achievement earned her ABC’s Wide World of Sports title of Athlete of the Year.
In 1991, Korbut went to conquer the United States. She worked as a teacher, gave interviews, participated in the show.
In 2012, she participated in the American show “Dancing on Ice”.
korbut olga olympic champion
Personal life
After the Olympics in 1972 Olga became a star and in 1973 she was invited to tour in the USA.
The feature film “Miracle with pigtails”, based on her biography, was filmed in 1974.
Olga finished her career after the Olympics in Montreal.
In 1978, she married the famous singer, soloist of the band “Pesnyary” Leonid Bortkevich. They were together for 22 years and gave birth to a son (born in 1979). In 2000, the couple broke up.
korbut bortkevich

Olga and Leonid Bortkevich


korbut wax figure

Olga Korbut wax figure at Madame Tussauds in London. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org / Nevit Dilmen

olga korbut famous gymnast

Olga Korbut – Olympic Champion

Her official site