TBT: Gymnastics Royalty - Vera Caslavska

11:55 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Vera Caslavska
Credit: Zona Gimnasia

This is a new series that I wanted to use to help new gym fans learn about the sport. This month's feature is Gymnastics Royalty - these are the female athletes that helped make the sport what it is. Hope you enjoy. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Vera Caslavska is the only gymnast, male or female, to win an Olympic gold on every individual event - all around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. She is the only gymnast to repeat as all around Olympic Champion in consecutive Olympics and also the only gymnast to win every European Championship, World Championship, and Olympic All Around title for every year in a quadrennium. She did this from 1964 - 1968. At the 1967 European Championships, she was the first to show the world a perfect 10 twice.

Vera Caslavska was born May 3, 1942 and represented Czechoslovakia. She was originally a figure skater but made the switch to gymnastics. Her international debut was at the 1958 World Championships. Her first Olympic medal was at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Afterwards, she lost her training facility due to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia so she improvised. During this time, she trained in the forest using potato sacks as weights and logs as beams. Caslavska was vocal about her opposition to Soviet involvement in her country and was in hiding because of this before the 1968 Olympics. She only got permission to travel to Mexico just before the competition. Caslavska, strong in her convictions, protested the Soviet invasion of her country by looking down and away when the Soviet anthem was played for the beam and floor medal ceremonies.

Caslavska was essentially forced into retirement after this as she was not allowed to travel for international competition. She eventually left Czechoslovakia for Mexico where she coached and started a family. It was not until the 1980s that she was able to return to her home country. Caslavska was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1998.

If you love Vera, you should be friends with wats-good-gabby.
Watch her induction into the IGHOF video here