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Seven up for incredible gymnast Shakhlin

07 Sep 1960
Rome 1960, USSR, Gymnastics

Deciding which athlete is the “star” of any given Olympics is an onerous task, not least because it is virtually impossible to compare different sports on a like-for-like basis. But Soviet gymnast Borys Shakhlin was certainly a contender for that title in Rome.

He took four golds – more than any other athlete – and his overall haul of seven medals overall was also the biggest tally achieved at the Games. It was a quite stunning achievement.

Shahklin had first blossomed at the 1956 Games, where he won two golds and finished fourth in one other event. His performance on the pommel horse was particularly notable – it was an event in which he was clearly the best in the world.

In 1958, he had won four titles at the World Championships, including victory in the all-around. By the time the world's best gymnasts gathered in Rome,  Shakhlin was very much the man to beat.

And so it proved, as he raised the bar even further. For a start, his four victories all came in individual events, with gold medals in the vault (where he tied for the gold medal with Japan's Takashi Ono), the parallel bars, and the pommel horse (sharing the title with Finland's Eugen Ekman).

He also took gold in the all-around after a thrilling battle with Ono that was settled by the wafer-thin margin of just 0.05 points.

Shakhlin also picked up silver medals in the team all-around and on the rings, and a bronze on the horizontal bar. He finished the competition tired but hugely satisfied and returned home to be presented with the Order of Lenin, one of the Soviet Union's highest accolades.

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