PRAGUE (AP) Vera Caslavska, a a number of Olympic gymnastics gold medalist who stood up towards the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, has died. She was seventy four.
The Czech Olympic Committee on Wednesday stated Caslavska died in Prague late Tuesday. Caslavska had most cancers of pancreas and underwent surgical procedure on Might 15 final yr, the committee beforehand stated. She had later undergone chemotherapy remedy.
Born on Might three, 1942 in Prague, Caslavska claimed her first Olympic medal – a silver – on the 1960 Rome Video games.
Her golden period started three years later.
She gained three Olympic golds in Tokyo in 1964 – within the vault, the person all-spherical and the stability beam – to determine herself as a serious pressure in her sport.
4 years later, Caslavska turned an outspoken supporter of Alexander Dubcek’s liberal reforms meant to steer towards democratization of communist Czechoslovakia, an period generally known as the Prague Spring. She signed the Two Thousand Phrases manifesto revealed in June 1968 that referred to as for deeper professional-democratic modifications. That doc angered the Soviet chief Leonid Brezhnev, who ordered the Warsaw Pact’s troops to invade Czechoslovakia to crush the reforms in August.
Dealing with a potential persecution, Caslavska went into hiding and was allowed solely simply earlier than the Mexico Olympics to hitch the nationwide gymnastics group.
She triumphed in 4 disciplines, profitable the Olympic gold within the vault, the person all-spherical, the ground workouts and the uneven bars. With one other two silver medals on the 1968 Video games, she turned the highest medalist and was later named the world’s greatest feminine athlete of the yr.
For a lot of, she can be remembered for her silent protest towards the Soviet invasion. Standing on the highest of the medal stands alongside Soviet gymnast Larisa Petrik, with whom she shared the gold within the flooring train, Caslavska turned her head down and to the proper when the Soviet nationwide anthem was performed.
Mixed together with her gymnastic performances, the gesture made her the star of the video games.
At residence, Caslavska confronted persecution from the submit-invasion onerous-line Communist regime. It wasn’t till 1974 that she was allowed to work as coach in her nation and later, in 1979-eighty one, in Mexico.
After the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution led by Vaclav Havel ended greater than forty years of communism, Caslavska turned Havel’s adviser and was elected the president of the Czechoslovak and later of the Czech Olympic Committee. In 1995-2001, she was a member of the Worldwide Olympic Committee.
She acquired the U.N.’s Pierre de Coubertin Prize for selling truthful play in 1989 and was additionally awarded the Olympic Order.
In a private setback, her marriage with Josef Odlozil, an athlete whom she married through the Mexico Video games, ended within the Nineteen Eighties. Her son, Martin, was discovered responsible of assault that led to his father’s dying in 1993 and was sentenced to 4 years in jail. Though he was quickly pardoned by Havel, Caslavska needed to bear remedy for melancholy and withdrew briefly from the general public life.
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