- 26 Oct 1968
- Mexico 1968
Magnificent seven medals for gymnast Voronin
Many athletes come to the Olympics focused on just one event. A few might take part in two or even three. Swimmers might do more, but very few get to the stage of being good enough, and fit enough, to manage eight. That, though, was the schedule that faced the great Soviet gymnast Mikhail Voronin when he arrived in Mexico.
He was used to competition, and he was used to winning medals. Voronin had won the all-around and rings titles at the World Championships in 1966, and also took those titles at the European Championships a year later, during which he also picked up gold medals for the parallel bars and pommel horse. He was acclaimed as a wonderfully talented gymnast, but one who was now facing his greatest challenge.
He met it with gusto. From the eight events in which he was entered, Voronin emerged with seven medals thanks to a consistent display of strength, endurance and versatility. His run started with the individual and team all-around competitions, in which he secured a pair of silver medals. The floor exercise came next, delivering him his only disappointment of the Games as he finished outside the medals.
Next, though, came the long horse vault, and his first victory of these Games, 0.05 ahead of Japan's Yukio Endo. The parallel bars delivered a silver before a mesmerising contest with Akinori Nakayama, of Japan, in the horizontal bar. Both athletes delivered high-class routines, although neither was perfect, and both were rewarded with scores of 19.55. With the judges unable to split them, both wen were awarded gold.
The rings delivered Voronin a four silver medal before he picked up a final medal, a bronze, in the pommel horse, his seventh medal of a spectacular Games.
Voronin returned to action in Munich four years later but, despite winning two silvers, his best years were now behind him. He will always be remembered best for his stunning haul in Mexico.