Thursday, 30 August 2012

Olga Korbut

The summer Olympics have already come & gone.  l enjoyed watching Gymnastics and reminisced to a time when Gymnastics was like magic.  Earlier this month I was lucky to catch a short biography on NBC about Olga Korbut and how she changed Gymnastics and the face of the Soviet Union.

Growing up in Québec in the 70s, our options were somewhat limited when it came to participating in sports.  Boys played hockey, turning our snowy streets into a scene from Roch Carrier's "The Hockey Sweater", while girls figure skated.  Olga Korbut's Gymnastics magic in 1972 opened a new world for those of us who were not so keen on lacing skates outside with frozen fingers.

I was able to experience the Gymnastics magic through an older cousin's obsession with Olga Korbut.  Just like "The Hockey Sweater"'s where boys wanted to comb their hair and dress like Maurice Richard, we wore pigtails and puffy sleeves like Olga Korbut.  

It's hard to imagine how much courage it took for Korbut to innovate in her sport.  In the 2012 NBC interview she said that her teammates didn't like her because she was different.  Luckily for the rest of the world she remained true to her ideals.  She performed daring moves on the uneven bars and even smiled for the camera at a time when few Soviets would.  It was nice to see that her 57 year-old self is still a determined woman with a strong sense of self and a twinkle in her eye.  I hope NBC posts the segment somewhere on their website.  

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