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Friday, November 28, 2014


Photo Gallery Archive

  • Hungarian water-polo player Ervin Zador after the infamous semifinal against the U.S.S.R. at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 (just after the Soviet invasion of Hungary). The Hungarians won the bad-tempered match and went on to clinch the gold medal.
  • Belarusian gymnast Olga Korbut's innovative back flips on the beam made a major impact at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and contributed to a major surge in the sport's popularity.
  • Korbut's tears after falling off the beam also helped humanize Soviet athletes, whom Cold War propaganda had portrayed as cold-blooded emotionless automatons.
  • In 1992, Korbut's compatriot Vitaly Scherbo triumphed in six of eight events at the Barcelona Olympics, winning more gold medals at a single Olympics than any other gymnast in history.
  • Ukrainian pentathlete Borys Onischenko (dubbed "Disonishcenko") caused a major scandal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal when his epee sword was discovered to have been wired to take advantage of the electronic scoring system in the fencing event
  • Georgian triple jumper Viktor Saneyev is one of the most successful track-and-field Olympians of all time. He won gold in 1968, 1972, and 1976. He also bagged a silver medal in Moscow in 1980.
  • Saneyev was controversially not chosen by the Soviets to light the Olympic flame at the Moscow Games although he did carry the Olympic torch into the stadium before handing it to Soviet basketball great and Moscow resident Sergei Belov.
  • Belov (not pictured) was a key contributor to one of the most dramatic Olympic upsets ever, when the Soviets' last-ditch basket snatched a hotly disputed 51-50 victory against the United States in the Munich basketball competition in 1972.
  • Armenian weightlifter Yurik Vardanian won gold for the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics, becoming the first person to achieve a 400-kilogram total in the 82.5-kilogram weight category. His son Norik will be lifting for Armenia at the London Olympics.
  • Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka dominated the sport for more than a decade, winning six consecutive world titles. However, he famously suffered from an "Olympics curse," winning only one gold medal (for the Soviet Union in Seoul in 1988).
  • When a small delegation of athletes from Bosnia-Herzegovina managed to make it to the Barcelona Games and march behind their national flag in 1992, it was an emotional moment for the fledgling country at what was a very difficult time.
  • Kazakh boxer Vassily Jirov won his country's first gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the light-heavyweight boxing contest. Jirov later turned professional and went on to hold the IBF world cruiserweight title.
  • Oil-rich Azerbaijan splashed out $1.5 million on a French horse in its quest for a showjumping medal in Beijing in 2008. But the horse's rider, Jamal Rahimov, was eliminated when he fell off his steed in the qualifiers.
  • Azerbaijan has enjoyed success in other sports, however. Freestyle wrestler Namig Abdullayev (in blue and white) won his country's first Summer Games medal when he clinched silver in Atlanta in 1996. He also won gold four years later in Sydney.

Olympians Who Made Their Mark

Published 12 July 2012

Athletes from RFE/RL's broadcast region have provided plenty of Olympic thrills and spills over the years. Here's a quick pick of some of their best (and worst) moments from the Summer Olympics.