Polina Astakhova passed away
With great sadness the Ukrainian gymnastics family feels sorrow Polina ASTAKHOVA's death, August 5.
The three-times Soviet Olympic gold medallist of artistic gymnastics - her nickname in the Fifties was "The Russian Birch", passed away at age 69 in the Ukraine capital Kiev, where the former world star lived the last years...
"Madonna, the Russian Birch" has gone... Polina Grigoryevna Astakhova (Russian:Полина Григорьевна Астахова) (born: October 30, 1936 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR - died: August 5, 2005 in Kiev, Ukraine) was a Soviet/Ukrainian gymnast who won 10 medals (5 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 3 bronze medals) at the Summer Olympics, where she participated as a member of the USSR team in 1956, 1960 and 1964.
Astakhova became interested in gymnastics at age 13, after she had watched the gymnastics championships in Donetsk, a city, where their family moved a short time before.
She trained in the gymnastics sports club Shakhtyor in Donetsk. Her trainer was the Honoured Trainer of the USSR Vladimir Aleksandrovich Smirnov.
In 1954 Astakhova participated in the USSR championship for the first time and in a year she was included to the USSR National team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.
She earned a nickname "The Russian Birch" in Western countries and at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome she was even called "Madonna" by the Italian journalists.
Latynina (URS) - Caslavska (CSR)- Astakhova (URS; right), at the victory ceremony (AA) 1964 in Tokyo
Between 1956 and 1968 Astakhova was on top of many international and national competitions especially on the uneven bars apparatus event.
After Astakhova retired from competition in 1968, she worked as a State coach in Ukrainian SSR and served as coach to the gold medal-winning Soviet women's team at the 1972 and 1980 Olympic Games.
The last years of her live Astakhova lived in Kiev, Ukraine, where she died last Friday.
Polina Astachowa, 2002, as a Member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame