Larisa Petrik

Sport: artistic gymnastics

Born: 28 August 1949; Dolinsk, Sakhalin Oblast


Order of Badge of Honor

Merited Master of Sports

Career highlights:

Two-time Olympic champion

Winner of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City (team competitions, women’s floor), bronze medalist (balance beam).

World champion 1970

USSR all-around champion 1964


December 1964, Kiev. The USSR all-around champion title went to the then unknown athlete from Vitebsk Children's Sport School No.1 Larisa Petrik. Representatives of the elite gymnastics, Olympic champions of the Tokyo 1964, competed for titles in the Soviet Union then.

Larisa Petrik claimed the USSR all-around champion title in 1964. Later, she gave the first place away to her age-mate Natalia Kuchinskaya, who was called by specialists a new miracle in gymnastics. The athletes of the Belarusian and Leningrad gymnastics schools competed throughout the whole pre-Olympic cycle. Neither specialists, nor judges could decide who was more talented.

By 1968 Larisa Petrik changed a lot, adding a true artistry, charm and grace to her performance. Her technique was polished to perfection. Her performance was light and effortless, and her lively smile won the hearts of the audience.

Larisa Petrik’s coach was Vikentiy Dmitriyev. Calm and unhurried, he taught her the things that people like Larisa found incredibly hard to master - calligraphic cleanness.

Larisa sought to master Elena Volchetskaya's jumps. She would not succeed for a long time but received a 10-points score at the national championships in 1968 for her jumps.

At the two competitions preceding the 1968 Olympic Games, Larisa Petrik failed to win gold medals. She finished fourth. Yet no one doubted the skills of the Belarusian gymnast.

Winning the Olympic women’s team tournament was a good sign. Larisa's second award in Mexico City was a bronze medal in balance beam. Frankly speaking, the judges in Mexico City were biased a bit. According to former world champion Yuri Titov, they judged Larisa Petrik's performance on the balance beam too poorly.

However, despite the jury’s bias, gymnasts continued to win awards in certain disciplines in the National Auditorium hall. The captain of the Soviet national team – the feisty Larisa Petrik also craved victory. Her star hour struck on 25 October 1968. Larisa demonstrated filigree technique and received the highest score at the Olympics – 9.9 points. Larisa Petrik, a debutant of the 1968 Olympics, shared the gold medal in floor exercise with experienced all-around winner Vera Caslavska from Czechoslovakia. Both girls scored the same amount of points. The second step on the podium was empty. Natalya Kuchinskaya was third.

Larisa returned to her native Vitebsk with two gold medals and one bronze.

After the Olympics, she moved to Moscow, married famous gymnast Viktor Klimenko, and continued to captivate the audience with her floor mini-performances.

After retiring from gymnastics in 1971 Larisa Petrik graduated from Moscow State Pedagogical University and then from Moscow State University. She worked on the stage and performed pieces of her floor exercises. Larisa was a host of radio sports programs. She moved to Germany with her husband in 1992 where they worked in one of the local gymnastic clubs.