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Larisa Latynina: An unbeaten Olympian for 48 years
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 13 Aug 2012

Larisa Latynina: An unbeaten Olympian for 48 years


For 48 years Larisa Latyninas Olympic record has been untouchable. The former Soviet gymnast's record haul of 18 Olympic medals put her far above the reach of any other Olympian.

She is in London as the International Gymnastics Federation's guest of honour.

Some time ago she predicted that her record will be beaten by American swimmer Michael Phelps.

"I'll be happy for him if he does it, because he deserves it," she says, adding an aside that gives a glimpse of the old Cold War rivalries their countries held: "The only sad part is that he's not from Russia."

Latynina met Phelps for the first time earlier this year in New York, and proudly shows off a photo in which she is giving a Russian doll to the grinning swimmer. "He impressed me a lot because he was very smiley and charming. I think he'll get it and I'll cheer him on.

She asked the International Olympic Committee if she could be the one to present his record-breaking medal, but was told it was unlikely. "It would be a real pleasure, really great to give him his 19th medal. I suggested it to the IOC, but I don't think they want me to. The IOC has got many honoured people and everybody wants to do that."

Larisa Latynina

Larisa Latynina at London Olympic games as the International Gymnastics Federation's guest of honour

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