Soviet Olympic legend denies heart attack claims
Soviet Olympic gymnastics icon Larisa Latynina – who won a record nine gold medals during her remarkable career – has denied claims that she suffered a heart attack. The 88-year-old said that she was in hospital for a scheduled examination and hoped to be discharged in the near future.
“Everything is fine with me, I feel good,” Latynina said on Friday, as reported by TASS. “I didn’t have any heart attack, now I’m having a planned in-depth examination. I wouldn’t rule out that I’ll be discharged soon. Everyone was worried about my health and I got a lot of attention, which was very nice.”
It was reported on Thursday that Latynina had been hospitalized at the end of December, with veteran Russian gymnastics coach Valentina Rodionenko saying she had suffered a heart attack. However, any immediate concerns for Latynina’s health will have been allayed by her own comments on her condition.
Latynina won a remarkable 18 Olympic medals for the Soviet Union in artistic gymnastics during the 1950s and 60s, including nine gold. That remains a record haul for a male or female gymnast, and Latynina held the outright record for the total number of Olympic medals for 48 years until her tally was broken by American swimmer Michael Phelps at the 2012 London Games.
Remarkably for gymnastics, Latynina won her last gold medal at the age of 30 when competing in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In addition to her Olympic haul, Latynina won 14 medals at the World Championships – including nine gold – and another 14 medals at the European Championships, which included seven titles.