On this day…

Today marks exactly twenty(!) years since fifteen-year-old Tara Lipinski skated this program and became Olympic Champion.


1992: Ukrainian Champions in Barcelona

The 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona were held from late July to early August. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the year before, athletes from the former USSR competed under their own flags and national anthems in individual events, and for the Unified Team in group events.

Ukrainian rhythmic gymnasts Alexandra Timochenko and Oksana Skaldina came home with the gold and bronze medals. They are the two fair-haired first place-getters pictured below at the 1991 World Championships.

Alexandra Timochenko (Ukraine), Oksana Kostina and Oksana Oxana Skaldina (Ukraine) (URSS) 1991 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Champions

Under their own flag for the first time, Ukraine’s 1992 female artistic gymnasts also outshone their teammates, with the women winning a further two gold, a silver, and two bronze medals individually, as well as a share in the team gold with their Belarusian, Uzbek and Russian teammates.

Stamp_of_Ukraine_s23 Rhythmic Gymnastics Stamp of Ukraine 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

Ukrainian stamp from 1992, featuring Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics. X

Despite almost no funding and an ongoing war with Russia, Ukrainian gymnasts continue to win Olympic medals, most recently gold and silver in the men’s competition in 2016. Many gymnasts from the country have moved to compete for other nations in order to access proper training facilities. Following the 2016 Rio Games, the equipment used in the competition was donated to Ukraine’s gymnastics federation.

Duelling as an Olympic sport


Duelling at the 1908 Games

The 1908 Olympic Games were held in London, beginning on the 27th of April. While medals were awarded for many sports, some were labelled “associate sports” and were for display only.

Duelling was one of these. Historically, duels were fought between two people (usually men) to defend their honour, and frequently resulted in grave injury or death.

At the Olympics the bullets were made of wax, and the contestants wore protective outfits.

The Games were supposed to have been held in Rome, but were moved after a devastating Mount Vesuvius eruption.

Unlike today, the event ran for months, from April to their conclusion on the 31st of October.

On this day: the birth of Aleksandr Shaparenko


Ukrainian sprint canoeist Aleksandr Shaparenko was born in Stepanivka on the 16th of February, 1946.

Competing for the Soviet Union, he won Olympic gold in 1968 and 1972, as well as a silver in the 1968 Games.

Shaparenko also won thirteen World Championship medals, including the gold seven times.

R.I.P. to Věra Čáslavská


R.I.P. to Věra Čáslavská. Not just a legend in gymnastics, but also a national hero for publicly protesting against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. 3rd May 1942 – 30th August 2016. Seven-time Olympic Champion.


Technology ruining the future?

A cartoon from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany laments the introduction of technology in the Games. It predicts that in the year 2000 the Olympics will have no live spectators, and that applause will be broadcast on loudspeakers.

In 1936 the Games were broadcast on television for the first time, but only in the host nation.

A humorous cartoon from the 1936 Berlin Olympics envisages the year 2000. Television technology has progressed to the point where spectators can watch events at home while radio, applying wireless technology.

The most successful woman in Olympic history.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. The most successful woman in Olympic history. Eighteen medals Eighteen events.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. After her father was killed in the Battle of Stalingrad she was raised by her illiterate mother.

Originally a ballet dancer, after switching to gymnastics she went on to compete at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.

Larisa_Latynina-croppedUkrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. The most successful woman in Olympic history. Eighteen medals Eighteen events.

Winning a medal in every event available to female gymnasts at all three Games, she became the most successful woman in Olympic history with eighteen medals, including nine gold.

She is one of only a handful of gymnasts who returned to the sport after having a child. At the time she kept her pregnancy a secret from coaches and Soviet officials.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. black and white

Until US swimmer Michael Phelps recently overtook her, she was also the most successful Olympic athlete of any gender.

On this day: the 1920 Olympics

Antwerp_1920_bannerThe 1916 Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Berlin but were cancelled due to World War I. The 1920 Games were awarded to Antwerp to honour the suffering that had been inflicted during the war.


The 1920 Summer Olympics opened in Antwerp, Belgium on the 14th of August.

1920_olympics_posterPoster of the 1920 Olympic Games. Printed in 90 000 copies in 17 languages plus French-Flamish bilingual versions.

The Games, which were to have been held in Germany in 1916 but were cancelled due to World War One, were awarded to the city in honour of the suffering inflicted on the Belgian people during the war.

On this day: women’s Olympic gymnastics

The gold medal in the 1992 women’s Olympic gymnastics team competition was decided on the 28th of July in Barcelona. The event was won by the Unified Team, made up of countries of the former USSR.

Despite the common misconception all gymnasts on this team were from Russia, only one of the six competitors was.

From left to right are: Rozalia Galiyeva (Uzbekistan), Tatiana Gutsu (Ukraine), Tatiana Lysenko (Ukraine), Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan), Elena Grudneva (Russia), and Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus).

Rozalia Galiyeva (Uzbekistan) Tatiana Gutsu (Ukraine) Tatiana Lysenko (Ukraine) Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan) Elena Grudneva (Russia) Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus) Unified Team Women's Gymnastics 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

Tatiana Gutsu would go on to win individual gold, silver and bronze.

Tatiana Gutsu Ukraine 1992 Olmypic gymnastics champion

 Tatiana Lysenko would win an individual gold and bronze.

Tatiana Lysenko Ukraine 1992 Olympic gymnastics champion

Oksana Chusovitina would go on to have a record-breaking career, competing all the way through to the London 2012 Olympics, and winning a silver medal in Beijing in 2008.