Description1972 Olga Korbut Riga International Championships Gold Medals Lot of 5 from The Olga Korbut Collection. Olga Korbut crept into our hearts when she starred for the USSR in the 1972 Olympics. A career which featured four gold medals began at the tender age of eight. These five gold medals were won by Korbut during the 1972 Riga International Championships held in Latvia. Each measures 2.5" in diameter, has a ribbon slot on top and shows age/storage wear. The five medals (between ninety-eight and one hundred and two grams) represent first in: all around, vault, uneven bars, floor exercise and balance beam. Korbut relayed the following to us regarding the experience in Latvia.
"This was a very important competition in my career," Korbut said. " I had trained for 10 years to be in the arena and compete. This was the where you get on the Olympic team or you go home. I proved myself and was asked to be on the team for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. But...my fire still burned inside of me...I had to prove to the world that I was the best, and now I had the opportunity, and no one could stop me." 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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2018 November 15-16 Fall Sports Card Catalog Auction