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Maria Gorokhovskaya

October 17, 1921–July 22, 2001

by Uri Miller

Olympic athelete Maria Gorokhovskaya.
Courtesy of Uri Miller
In Brief

Maria Gorokhovskaya was born in present-day Ukraine and worked in a hospital during World War II. Postwar, she won her first national gymnastics title in the USSR in 1948. At the 1952 Olympics, Gorokhovskaya won silver medals in four events, racking up a cumulative high score that earned her a gold medal for all-around competition. While her seven medals rank her eleventh in total medals won by a woman athlete, she is the only one to have won all of them in only one Olympic Game. She then won a bronze medal for floor exercises and helped the USSR win the gold medal for the team event at the 1954 World Championships. She then retired and became a gymnastics coach. In celebration of her athletic accomplishments, she was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

Article

The top performer among all athletes, both male and female, at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, where she won a record seven medals, Maria Gorokhovskaya was born in Yevpotoria, Ukraine (formerly Soviet Union) on October 17, 1921.

Gorokhovskaya worked at a military hospital in Leningrad during World War II and was eventually evacuated to Kazakhstan due to her state of extreme exhaustion. Her father, Kondratii Mefod'evich Gorokhovskii died at the hands of the Nazi fascists along with other Jews in Yevpotoria, while her brother died at the front.

She won her first USSR title on the balance beam in 1948 and came to the Olympics as the two-time national champion. These were the first Olympic Games in which Soviet gymnasts participated and they dominated the competition, with Gorokhovskaya leading them. She finished second in all four individual apparatus events—balance beam, floor exercise, horse vault and uneven parallel bars—thus winning the gold medal in the all-around competition. While her seven medals rank her eleventh in total medals won by a woman athlete, she is the only one to have won all of them in only one Olympic Game.

At the 1954 World Championships Gorokhovskaya again helped the Soviet Union capture the gold medal in the team event, the silver in team exercises and the bronze in floor exercises. She then retired.

Only in 1990, when she immigrated to Israel, was she discovered to be a Jew and she was thereupon inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Maria Gorohovskaya died in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2001.

Bibliography

Zamostyanov, Arseny. "Dvenatsat' olimpiiskikh legend." Istorik: zhurnal ob aktual'nom proshlom.

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How to cite this page

Miller, Uri. "Maria Gorokhovskaya." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 31 December 1999. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 25, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/gorokhovskaya-maria>.