Tourischeva, Ludmila (1952—)

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Tourischeva, Ludmila (1952—)

Russian gymnast who won ten Olympic medals. Name variations: Liudmila or Ludmilla or Lyudmila Turishcheva, Turischeva, or Turitscheva. Pronunciation: Lood-MEE-luh Too-REES-chuh-vuh. Born Ludmila Ivanovna Tourischeva on October 7, 1952, in Grozyni, USSR; married Valery Borzov.

USSR champion (1970–75); won USSR Cup (1967–74); World champion in the combined (1970, 1974), in the balance beam (1974), in the floor exercises (1970 and 1974); European champion (1971 and 1973); absolute USSR champion (1972 and 1974); World Cup winner (1975–76); won ten Olympic medals: team gold (1968, 1972, 1976), gold in individual combined (1972), gold in all-around (1972), silver in floor exercise (1972 and 1976), bronze in horse vault (1972 and 1976), bronze in all-around (1976); battled Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut for the spotlight toward the end of her career.

Americans became enthralled with women's gymnastics with the advent of Olga Korbut , the Soviet gymnast who stole their hearts. Korbut was followed by Rumanian Nadia Comaneci , whose Olympic scores won as much applause in the West as in the East. In fact, some might argue that the first thaw in the Cold War began with women's gymnastics. During the reign of these two stars, Ludmila Tourischeva was also a major competitor, winning ten Olympic medals.

Working hard since age ten under coach Vyacheslav Rastaratsky, Tourischeva became a heroine in Russia in 1967, when she won the USSR Gymnastics Cup. In 1968, she shared a team gold in Mexico City. When the Munich Olympics began in 1972, Tourischeva was world champion. She won a gold in the coveted all-around, a silver in floor exercises, and a bronze in vault. But all eyes were on a smiling pixie named Olga Korbut who took the floor exercise and the balance beam. By 1974, however, Tourischeva was the top woman gymnast in the world, winning three of the five individual first-place medals in the World championships at Varna, Bulgaria, including Korbut's specialties: the floor exercise and the balance beam. In 1975, in the first World Cup gymnastic competition held in London, Tourischeva won all five gold medals available.

The Soviet gymnast had been European champion five times and was trying for her sixth title when she was defeated by Nadia Comaneci in 1976. This would not be the last Tourischeva heard of the Rumanian who stole the show at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Tourischeva was brilliant in Montreal, winning a team gold, a silver in floor exercises, a silver in vault, and a bronze in all-around. But the eyes of the world were on Comaneci who logged the first perfect score in the history of Olympic gymnastics, then followed that with six more. The largest crowd recorded for a gymnastics competition, approximately 18,000, packed the Forum in Montreal for the finals.

Tourischeva announced her retirement after the 1976 Olympics and married Valery Borzov, a track-and-field champion. In 1984, she was appointed head judge in balance beam at the Los Angeles Games, a well-deserved honor for an athlete who held ten Olympic medals.


Golubev, V. Liudmila Turishcheva. Moscow, 1977.

Markel, Robert, Nancy Brooks, and Susan Markel. For the Record: Women in Sports. NY: World Almanac, 1985.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia