Olympic gymnast sells medals after financial troubles

Ross Houston
March 1, 2017

Now the Soviet gymnast has just sold five of her Olympic medals at auction in Arizona. "The medals saved Korbut of the famine", pointed out the Russian news bulletin gazeta.ru, and a added that the ex-athlete, who changed in 1991 to the United States, where she turned into a gymnastics teacher, turned poor in the last years.

Korbut's gold medal at the 1972 Munich Games in the team event sold for $66,000 dollars, her individual gold medal in the floor event was snapped up for $52,000, and her silver medal in the uneven bars routine went for $24,600. The dramatic narrative of her week in Munich transformed the whole profile of gymnastics - a process that would be continued by Nadia Comaneci's "perfect 10" in Montreal four years later - and forced her home town of Grodno to assign a special post-office clerk to deal with the 20,000 fan letters she received over the following year.

In the Heritage Auctions sale, she also sold pins and other memorabilia from her career, including a leotard.

Former gymnast and four-time Olympic gold medalist Olga Korbut has kept up a fearless face despite her financial struggles in later life.

Russia's Gazeta.ru.news reported Korbut had financial difficulties.

Heritage Auctions' spokesman Chris Ivy said: "There is hardly a gymnast alive who doesn't credit this tiny force of nature (with) the explosion of the sport's popularity on a global level".

Korbut is now a USA citizen and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with her fiance, Jay Schanfeldt, who told NBC News the Russian report was "totally not true".

Korbut famously coined the Korbut Flip, a trick that is now banned from the Olympics for being too unsafe. They had a son named Richard.

At the time, she said she was selling the medals to give the world a chance to share in her glory.

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