Olympics 2016: 'Darling of Munich'

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Olympics 2016: Darling of Munich
The 4-ft-11 Russian gymnast went on to win three gold medals and one silver at the Munich Games.

Russian legend Olga Korbut gave some unforgettable moments at the 1972 Olympics

By KT Report

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Published: Tue 26 Jul 2016, 10:13 PM

A terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympiad overshadowed the Games and despite that tragic incident, a petite pigtailed Russian gymnast - Olga Korbut warmed the cockles of fans' with her daring show.
Everyone loved her so much that she was called 'Darling of Munich'. Olga, 17 then, was different from the stereotypical Soviet gymnast and came out of nowhere.
The 4-ft-11- Russian gymnast went on to win three gold medals and one silver.
Her performance left crowds gasping in awe as the frail-looking Olga executed a move never seen before at an Olympic competition. During her first routine on the balance beam she did a backward aerial somersault that sent even Olympic announcers wild with joy.
"I can't believe I did it like that. This girl is good!" said Olga later about that 'Korbut Flip', as it is now known.
She then did something even more astonishing on the uneven bars, a move that was subsequently banned because it was so dangerous. An announcer claimed at that time Olga diving backward after standing on the top bar and managing to arch around and catch the bar with her hands had never been done by any human that he knew of.
Then Olga set her sights on winning the uneven bars, but fate got in the way: During a maneuver, she stubbed her toe and fell to the floor and burst into tears. She dried her tears, rallied, and finished the routine as a worldwide audience watched. Her charisma was so much that fans cheered her even when she stumbled.
After the Munich Olympics, US President Nixon invited Olga to the White House. "You are a little girl," he quipped, to which she replied, "You are a big boy."
Olga made the Soviet Olympic team again in l976, but she retired from competition after a disappointing showing in Montreal.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in l991, Olga and her family moved to the US and taught gymnastics. She became an American citizen in 2000.
She's still passionate about gymnastics. But she said the sport has changed a lot over the past 40 years. Now it's much more about power than artistry.
"You know what, I'm waiting maybe another Olga will be born and change gymnastics to be more graceful and beautiful. But now it's like robots - not smiling, not enjoying. And sometimes it's boring to watch."
Olga was named one of Sport's Illustrated's 40 greatest athletes in l994, and was the first person inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Now 61, she still teaches, and she's still incredibly fit.

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