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The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Olena PavlovaNews
Latynina, Astakhova, Nikolaieva, and Muratova became the stars of the 1960 Olympic Games

The 1960 Olympics in Rome was a triumph for Soviet gymnasts, as only one medal in five individual events went to non-Soviet representatives, with Ukrainians Larysa Latynina, Polina Astakhova, and Margarita Nikolaieva leading the way. And it just so happened that the champions were not only very talented, but also beautiful, attracting the attention of both sports colleagues and well-known politicians.

However, numerous titles, a flawless figure, a charming face, and the adoration of millions did not guarantee personal happiness. Some of the 1960 Olympics winners managed to find it only at the age of 50, while others lived out their lives in oblivion, although they once conquered not only Castro but also Brezhnev.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

LARYSA LATYNINA'S HAPPINESS AT 50

The most titled gymnast in the world, winner of 18 Olympic awards, Larysa Latynina was born in Kherson, where she experienced all the horrors of war as a child. She admitted that she remembers the gallows where the German occupiers hanged people. Only her mother, who worked around the clock, took care of the girl because her father left the family when she was very young.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Latynina was originally a ballet dancer for a long time, and this helped her in gymnastics. A difficult childhood hardened Larysa's character, and she graduated from high school with a gold medal and always had to win in everything. At her first Olympics in 1956 in Melbourne, she won four gold, one silver, and one bronze medal, becoming the overall champion.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest
The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

It is not surprising that a Ukrainian woman was elected captain of the USSR women's team at the 1960 Games in Rome. Although a year and a half before the competition in Italy, in December 1958, she gave birth to a daughter, Tetiana. But after the pregnancy, Latynina returned to the platform almost immediately and was unbeatable at the 1960 Olympics, winning 3 golds, including the all-around, 3 silvers, and one bronze.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

The spectacular and titled gymnast has always had plenty of admirers, but it took her three attempts to get married. The romance with Ivan Latynin, a cadet at a nautical school, began at school, and after graduation, the lovers began to drift apart, as Ivan disappeared on business trips and the gymnast was away training and competing. But Larysa's mother really liked the sailor and insisted on a wedding.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

The gymnast gave birth to Ivan's daughter, who was cared for by her mother most of the time as the athlete returned to training. But the marriage soon began to come apart at the seams. The more time Larysa spent at home, the more clearly she saw that she and her husband were different people, and she even suspected infidelity and left for a man she didn't want to remember because she had experienced "betrayal, insult and humiliation."

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Latynina found happiness at the age of 50 at a recreation center in the person of Yuri Feldman, the chief engineer of the Dynamo plant, who offered to teach the stranger to play tennis. But Feldman was married and a member of the party, which, to put it mildly, did not approve of divorce.

The secret affair lasted three years: "We had the feeling that we were sent to each other by God. When Yura announced that he was getting a divorce, he was summoned to a party meeting and tortured. But he got over it and once came to me with a suitcase: "I'm gone forever." The death of her husband after 30 years of marriage was a severe blow to Latynina.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

POLINA ASTAKHOVA'S RUSSIAN BIRCH

Astakhova came to artistic gymnastics late by today's standards - she joined a gymnastics section in Donetsk when she was only 13. But she progressed very quickly and seven years later competed at the 1956 Olympics, where she became a team champion. In total, she won 10 Olympic medals, 5 of which were gold. Polina was considered the most beautiful gymnast of her time. The slender blonde was loved all over the world.

Astakhova gymnastics

In the Western media, Astakhova was called the "Russian Birch". And at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, fascinated Italian journalists even compared her to Madonna. Commander Fidel Castro did not hesitate to confess his love for the charming Ukrainian, and during his tour of Cuba he presented Polina and others with crocodile leather bags.

Astakhova gymnastics

Castro even came to Moscow to see the most graceful gymnast of the time. When Fidel found out that Polina was in Kyiv, he didn't hesitate to go there. Her striking beauty drove men crazy. One day, at a government reception, cream from a cake dripped onto the gymnast's shoe. So one of the leaders of Ukraine bent down and wiped it off with the sleeve of his jacket.

Polina Astakhova could have chosen any man, but she devoted herself to gymnastics.

And the head of the USSR, Brezhnev, whenever he saw the athlete, constantly tried to kiss her. One day, the city of Kyiv was awarded another order, and Astakhova was instructed to deliver a speech to the Secretary General. Brezhnev came out to them, taking him to his chest: "I began: "Dear Leonid Ilyich!" And he looked at me and suddenly interrupted: "But I know you!" You are a gymnast, a Russian birch. Were you going to give a speech? Oh, come on! Let me give you a kiss instead..." I was speechless, surrounded by the sports authorities, and Brezhnev was trying to kiss me..."

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

But heavy training took a toll on Astakhova's health. Due to heart problems, she had to give up her career and become a coach. It was Astakhova who trained Liliia Podkopaieva for her first international start.

Polina Astakhova has become a good coach.

Despite her enviable beauty, the champion's personal life did not work out. According to Astakhova, it was because she had no time for anything else. For her, there was only gymnastics. She learned what home was only in retirement. She adored her grandson Serhii. But in her last years in Kyiv, she suffered from asthma and forgetfulness.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

BUST BY CASTRO MARGARITA NIKOLAEVA

I must say that Fidel Castro had a great weakness for Soviet gymnasts. Or even Ukrainian ones. Among them was Margarita Nikolaeva from Odesa. In 1960, she became a two-time Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics in the team and vault, surprising the audience with her complex programs, and in 1961, she and her team went on a tour of America.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

After the team meeting with the United States, the Soviet athletes were about to return home, but the plane was suddenly turned toward Cuba. It turned out that the head of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, had been contacted by Fidel Castro himself with a request to organize a tour of the gymnasts on Liberty Island. The commander liked Nikolaeva the most, and he presented her with his own bust, diploma, and autographed photos.

"Castro even invited her to the Miss Cuba beauty pageant, but it was impossible for her to participate," the athlete's husband, master of sports in acrobatics Yuri Nikolayev, later admitted, who even learned the most difficult elements with Rita after work when she was left without a coach. Margarita, on the other hand, was wise not to talk about her relationship with the Cuban leader.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Margarita would almost certainly have gone to the 1956 Olympics in Australia, but after the Spartakiad she found out she was pregnant. Instead of participating in the Games, Margarita became a mother, but she quickly got back in shape, starting to train while walking with her child. In 1958, Nikolaieva was invited to a training camp in Moscow, where she impressed the coaches with a vault, which was not performed by women at that time, and a flask jump from a log.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

"Nikolaeva was great! Her vault was a real flight. You need strength to execute it well, and Rita managed to achieve both gracefulness and softness. This jump made a stunning impression," admired Nikandrov, a two-time world wall champion.

Nikolaeva was going to take part in the 1964 Olympics, and to improve her form and results, she turned to a well-known Ukrainian specialist, Yuri Tikhonov, for help. Acrobats and choreographers from the opera house were engaged to prepare and stage the programs. But a month and a half before the competition, Margarita had an attack of appendicitis. She had to give up on the Olympics.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Years later, an analysis showed that world leaders began to perform such "advanced" elements as in Nikolaieva's program only in the early 70s. And the Odesa woman finished her career at the age of 31 and started coaching herself. Margarita also had some acting experience behind her: during her sports career, she started acting in films with Yevhen Matveev.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

SOPHIA MURATOVA TURNED THE HOCKEY TEAM'S HEAD

In addition to the Ukrainians, the Soviet heroines of the 1960 Olympics included Sofia Muratova, a native of Leningrad, who, after winning gold on the team, fought with Latynina for the all-around victory but ended up second. And then she added a silver in the vault and a bronze in the balance beam to her collection. And all this at the age of 31.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

It's interesting that Sofia got her main victories after she had children. This is because Muratova was fatally unlucky at major international competitions, although she was one of the strongest gymnasts in the USSR. The first in a series of tragic accidents was a leg injury on the eve of the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, which prevented her from going to Finland.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

And at the 1954 World Championships in Rome, Sofia, having won gold in the team competition, was leading in the individual standings before the last event. She only had to perform the vault, but during the warm-up, the spectacular brunette broke her arm and dropped out of the competition one step away from victory.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Muratova could have been left out of the 1960 Games because she had suffered a recurrence of an old injury the year before. Sofia's performance in Rome was in doubt, as the gymnast had difficulty even walking, let alone training. However, Zoya Mironova performed a unique surgery on Muratova just three months before the opening of the Olympics, and the girl was able to join the team.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Although Sofia was often unlucky in sports, she was absolutely happy in her personal life - even before her great victories in 1951, the dark-haired beauty married Valentin Muratov, one of the most popular Soviet gymnasts of the 50s. Friends and acquaintances noted that they were a very beautiful couple and probably one of the happiest in the history of Soviet sports, having won 6 Olympic gold medals together.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

Muratov first saw his future wife in 1946 at a competition, and then he met her at the Dynamo Stadium and was captivated by Sofia's beauty. The gymnast decided to walk the girl to her dormitory, and at the end of the day, he couldn't help himself and started kissing her. But she proved to be resilient and did not succumb to the star's persuasion for several years.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest
The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

And Muratov was worried that someone might take his gymnast away from him. The hockey team was chasing after her, and in Sweden, one of the counselors was courting her at a reception at the embassy. In the end, Valentyn gave his beloved an ultimatum: either a wedding or he would look for another girl. And then the champion decided to give up. The Muratovs lived together for more than 55 years, raised two sons, and passed away nine days apart.

The most beautiful gymnasts of the USSR from the 60s: Brezhnev kissed the Ukrainian Madonna, and Castro invited her to the Miss Cuba contest

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