Olga Korbut Biography

Athlete, Gymnast (1955–)
Gymnast Olga Korbut represented the U.S.S.R. in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, winning several gold and silver medals for the Soviet team.


Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut was born on May 16, 1955, in what is now Grodno, Belarus. In 1969, she competed in the U.S.S.R. championships. She was the first gymnast to perform a backward aerial somersault on the balance beam. In the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, she won three Olympic gold medals and one silver medal. Four years later in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, she won one gold and one silver medal for the U.S.S.R. team, but was eclipsed by the performance of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci.

"One day, I was nobody and the next day, I was a star." - Olga Korbut,  My Story

As her gymnastics career waned, Korbut earned her college degree and became a teacher. In 1978, she married Leonid Bortkevich and soon thereafter had a son, Richard. Fleeing the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, in 1991, the family settled in the United States. She and her husband divorced in 2002 and she soon remarried to Alex Voinich. In the early 2000s, Korbut became a U.S. citizen and experienced a number of personal set-backs including struggling with alcoholism and an arrest for shoplifting. She has since overcome these challenges and has gone on to become a gymnastics coach and commentator.

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