Description

    1970-74 Olga Korbut Pinback Medals Lot of 4 from The Olga Korbut Collection. Olga Korbut set the standard for gymnastic's excellence. Her performances in the 1972 and '76 Olympics brought instant attention to her sport. These four pinback medals were won by Korbut during her journey to Olympic stardom. Included are: 1970 gold medal for vault (Moscow) at Palace of the Central Stadium Sports (.75" diameter with oxidation), 1974 gold team championship (1" diameter) Rostov-on-Don at Palace of Sports, 1970 silver for uneven bars at Palace of the Central Stadium Sports (1" diameter/moderate wear) and 1972 gold medal team championship (1" diameter) from Kiev, Ukraine sponsored by the Army of the USSR. Each shows age wear and has Korbut's name engraved on reverse. Letter of provenance from Olga Korbut.

    The Olga Korbut Collection.

    At just four feet eleven inches in height, and tipping the scales at just over eighty pounds, one might have expected Olga Korbut to be simply swept away in the maelstrom of politics and expectations that swirled around the 1972 Munich Games. The Cold War had never fully thawed at any international summit of the world's greatest athletes, and this 1972 edition was devastated by the horrors of the terrorist attack upon the Israeli team at the Olympic Village. But it was at these Games, under those most challenging conditions, that Korbut supplied a gymnastics performance of pure mastery and joy, beginning a global love affair with "The Sparrow from Minsk," who single-handedly upended the stereotype of the Soviet athlete as a stone-faced automaton.

    The world welcomed her back to the sport's brightest spotlight four years later in Montreal, where she was identified as the best hope to throw a leash around the rising star of Romanian wunderkind Nadia Comaneci, but injury limited the full breadth of Korbut's brilliance, restricting her medal haul to a team Gold and personal Silver.

    This auction will present the tangible evidence of Korbut's elite achievement-three Gold and two Silver medals earned at the Olympic Games of Munich and Montreal--as well as dozens of other relics of her age of dominance (her fourth Gold Medal--1972 Balance Beam--was stolen from a Moscow museum). But her greatest legacy cannot be measured by the inanimate. After the 1972 Games, Korbut was invited to visit Richard Nixon at the White House, and she later reported that, "He told me that my performance in Munich did more for reducing the political tension during the Cold War between our two countries than the embassies were able to do in five years."

    Today, at age sixty-one, Korbut parts with the mementos of her youthful glory because the thing she values most is always with her. There is hardly a gymnast alive who doesn't credit this tiny force of nature for the explosion of the sport's popularity on a global level, for establishing gymnastics as the most anticipated competition of the Summer Games. Heritage Auctions is privileged and proud for the opportunity in bringing this historic collection to the collecting world, each lot joined by a signed letter of provenance from Ms. Korbut herself.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2017
    25th-26th Saturday-Sunday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 6
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