Věra Čáslavská (Prague, 3 May 1942 - Prague, 30 August 2016)

  • 11 Olympic medals (7 gold, 4 silver)
  • 2 time Olympic All Around champion
  • One of the two female gymnnasts to win the All Around at consecutive Olympic Games (the other one being Larisa Latynina)
  • Olympic Champion in all the individual categories
  • 10 World Championships medals (4 gold, 5 silver, 1 bronze)
  • 14 European Championships medals (11 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)
  • Won every individual medal at the 1965 and 1967 European Championships
  • 1st gymnast to score a perfect 10 at international competition (beam and floor at the 1967 European Championships
  • One of the three female gymnasts to be Olympic, World and European All Around champion at the same time (along Ludmilla Tourischeva and Lilia Podkopayeva)

Interestingly, Caslavska came close to missing her second Olympic appearance. Leading up to the 1968 Olympics, she became enmeshed in political reform and was forced to flee from authorities to escape imprisonment. As outlined by Minot Simons II in his fabulous and much recommended Women’s Gymnastics - A History, Volume 1 1966 to 1974, on June 27, 1968, Czechoslovakian Communist Party member Ludvik Vaculik published a manifesto, expresing concern about elements of the Communist party and advocating liberal and democratic chance. Having signed the manifesto, Caslavska found herself having to flee from authorities. Relatively safe in the remote town of Sumperk, Caslavska found herself without training facilities. Instead, she stayed in shape by lifting sacks of potatoes.

Days leading up to the 1968 Olympics, Caslavska was grated permission to compete in the 1968 Olympics. Despite the fact that she (unlike all of her competitors) had not had time to acclimate to Mexico City, Caslavska succesfully defended her Olympic crown, pleasing fans and judges alike her Mexican Hat Dance floor routine. At these Olympics (at least I think it was at this competition), Caslavska performed a further act of defiance: on the podium, she snubbed the Soviets - evidence of her disapproval of the Communist stronghold over Czechoslovakia.

One short day after competing in the event finals (where she medalled on all four events), Caslavska married Czechoslovakian 1500m runner Josef Odlozil. Caslavska emmersed herself into writing (her autobiography) and motherhood (raising son Martin and daughter Radka).

Caslavska quickly learned that Communist authorities had not forgotten her acts of betrayal. Attempts to get her autobiography published were squelched, and when a Japanese company agreed to it’s publication, the Czechoslovakian government insisted that parts deemed unacceptable be removed. Repeated attempts to get a coaching job with the National gymnastics team were denied, and when she was finally granted employment, she was forbidden to travel with her gymnasts.

Source: Whatever Happened to…?


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every gymnast should do a riverdance floor routine.