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11 Feb 1972
Sapporo 1972 , IOC News , Figure skating

Teen tyro Nepela claims Olympic crown

Ondrej Nepela was just 13 years old when he made his Olympic debut in 1964, and over the next decade he went on to amass a quite spectacular collection of medals.

At the age of 15, he won a bronze at the 1966 European Championships on home ice in Bratislava, and was still in his teens by the time he graduated to gold in 1969. That was to be the first of five consecutive European titles.

His second appearance at the Olympic Winter Games in 1968, had seen him finish eighth, but by the time he arrived in Sapporo, he was at the peak of his form. By now he had added his first world championship title to his collection.

He was still only 21 years old, but was regarded as a seasoned veteran, and it seemed amazing that he had not yet won an Olympic medal.

His greatest forte was the compulsory section and he did not disappoint. All nine judges placed him first giving him a lead of more than 50 points over his closest rival, France's Patrick Pera.

The free skate was much more open. This time, it was the Soviet skater Sergey Chetverukhin who prevailed, with Nepela down in fourth place. He was only seven points behind, and that was easily enough to secure the gold.

What made his victory all the more impressive was that he had suffered a fall while attempting a complicated jump. It was his first fall in competition for four years, but was not enough to deny him a much-deserved Olympic title.

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