Maria Gorokhovskaya

Olympic Person of the Month October 2021

For the October instalment of the “Olympic Person of the Month”, the European Olympic Academies has chosen the history-making gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya who was born one hundred years ago this month.

Born on October 17, 1921 in Yevpatoria, on the Crimean Peninsula, Gorokhovskaya represented the first USSR gymnastics team to ever compete at the Olympics and also became the first female athlete to be awarded 7 medals at a single Olympics at Helsinki in 1952.

Gorokhovskaya won gold medals for her performance in the Team and All-Around events. Her silver medals were awarded for performances in the Team Portable Apparatus, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise competitions.

Since 1952, Gorokhovskaya remained the only woman to have achieved such a high number of medals at a single Olympics until 2021, when Australian swimmer Emma McKeon won 7 medals at the Tokyo 2020 Games and drew level with Gorokhovskaya’s record.

Following her achievements at the Helsinki Olympics, Gorokhovskaya was awarded the Soviet Union’s Order of Red Banner and Honorary Master of Sport. She made one further international appearance before her retirement at the 1954 World Championships and subsequently worked as a gymnastics coach, international judge and physical culture lecturer.

Maria Gorokhovskaya’s impressive medal record and dedication to her sport as a coach and judge embody the spirit of Olympism and highlight the alliance between sport and education.

After emigrating to Israel in 1990, Gorokhovskaya was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of her sporting achievements and continued to work as a gymnastics coach until her death in 2001. This year she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Image kindly supplied by the NOA of Ukraine.

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