Legendary gymnast Ludmila Tourischeva celebrated her 66th birthday at the weekend, with tributes pouring in for a woman whose career is remembered for a huge haul of awards – as well as an astonishing world cup incident.
Tourischeva was born on October 7 in 1952 in Grozny, the capital of Russias Chechen Republic. She was coached by Vladislav Rastorotsky, a world-renowned gymnastics specialist who also guided Soviet stars Natalia Shaposhnikova and Natalia Yurchenko to Olympic greatness.
Tourischeva made her Olympic debut at the age of 16 and immediately claimed gold in the team event. During her brilliant gymnastics career – which spanned almost 10 years – she won four Olympic titles and added 11 world medals to her name, seven of which were gold.
Competing in the same era as the two arguably most recognizable gymnastics figures – Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci – Tourischeva earned nine Olympic medals as an irreplaceable member of three Olympic gold-winning squads.
But perhaps the most remarkable episode associated with Tourischevas name had nothing to do with her tremendous victories.
The 1975 World Cup could have become the last competition for the talented gymnast, who somehow walked off unscathed from a terrifying uneven bars incident.
Tourischeva confidently coped with her mesmerizing routine on the apparatus, demonstrating pencil-straight lines along with solid acrobatics.
But the moment she landed her dismount, the bars collapsed and crashed to the ground.
The gymnast, who didnt even turn around to check what had happened, calmly saluted to the judges and left the gym, showing no signs of shock and almost as if the crash had been a part of her spectacular routine.
Following the horrifying incident, Tourischeva was dubbed “the gymnast with stellar nerves” as she went on to win the all-around and every individual event at the competition.