4 Things to Know About Olympic Gymnastics Great Ludmilla Tourischeva
She won more medals than just about any other gymnast — ever.
Ludmilla Tourischeva was incredibly successful during the 1970s. She won the Olympic all-around title in 1972, along with the world all-around title in 1970 and 1974 — back when world championships were held every two years, not every year. In just two world championships, she won 11 medals (seven gold), placing her sixth amongst all female gymnasts in history in world medals won.
The USSR won every Olympic team gold from 1952-1992* (except for 1984, when the country boycotted the Games), and Tourischeva was a part of three of those squads, in 1968, ’72, and ’76. She earned nine Olympic medals in all, four of which were gold — and is also sixth on the list of most Olympic medals won by female gymnasts.
* In 1992, gymnasts from the former Soviet republics competed as a “Unified Team” and won gold.
Despite all of the medals, she was never the one in the spotlight.
Tourischeva competed in the same era as two of the most famous names in the sport — Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci — and tallied more total world and Olympic medals than either,* but she remains less well known than the other two.
Why? Both Korbut and Comaneci took the world by storm as very young gymnasts — Korbut was 17, and Comaneci just 14 in her first Olympics (1972 and 1976, respectively) — and while Tourischeva was also very young in her first Games (she had just turned 16), she was just a part of the dominant Soviet team in 1968. When she won the Olympic all-around title in 1972 she was a more mature 19, and she displayed less of the daring acrobatics that made Korbut so famous that same year.
The audience at that time seemed captivated by very young gymnasts earning golds with incredible athletic feats. So Tourischeva, the most decorated of them all, stayed in the background.
*Korbut earned six world and six Olympic medals; Comaneci earned four world and nine Olympic medals
She showed amazing poise under pressure.
Tourischeva always appeared calm and reserved in competitions — and one moment in particular summed up her competitive demeanor, perhaps more than any other.
At the 1975 World Cup, Tourischeva was completing her bar routine when the bars collapsed during her dismount. She still finished her set and walked off the podium — and did it without even looking back. Refusing to let the equipment failure rattle her, she ended up winning the all-around and every individual event at that meet.
She married another famous Olympian.
Ludmilla Tourischeva was born Oct. 7, 1952 in Grozny, Russia. She was coached by Vladislav Rastorotsky, who went on to coach Soviet greats Natalia Shaposhnikova and Natalia Yurchenko.
She married Valeri Borzo, a three-time Olympic sprinter for the Soviet Union, in 1977. (Watch him compete here.) Borzo, a household name in track and field because of his five Olympic medals, served in the Ukrainian parliament from 1998 until 2006.
The couple has one child, Tatyana, born in 1978.
Ludmilla Tourischeva’s Gymnastics Results
- 1976 Olympics (Montreal, Canada): 1st team; 3rd all-around; 2nd vault; 2nd floor
- 1975 European Championships (Skien, Norway): 3rd floor
- 1975 World Cup (London, Great Britain): 1st all-around; 1st vault; 1st bars; 1st beam; 1st floor
- 1974 World Championships (Varna, Bulgaria): 1st team; 1st all-around; 2nd vault; 3rd bars; 1st beam; 1st floor
- 1973 European Championships (London, Great Britain): 1st all-around; 1st vault; 1st bars; 1st beam; 1st floor
- 1972 Olympics: 1st team (Munich, Germany); 1st all-around; 3rd vault; 2nd floor
- 1971 European Championships (Minsk, USSR): 1st all-around; 1st vault; 2nd bars; 2nd beam; 1st floor
- 1970 World Championships (Ljubljana, Slovenia, Yugoslavia): 1st team; 1st all-around; 3rd vault; 2nd bars; 1st floor
- 1969 European Championships (Landskrona, Sweden): 3rd all-around; 3rd bars; 3rd floor
- 1968 Olympics (Mexico City, Mexico): 1st team; 3rd all-around; 2nd vault; 2nd floor