Čáslavská, Věra

Čáslavská, Věra, 1942–2016, Czechoslovak gymnast, b. Prague. Čáslavská revolutionized a formerly dance-based sport with her athleticism and panache, winning 22 international titles (seven Olympic gold medals, four world championships, and 11 European championships) between 1962 and 1968. At the 1964 Tokyo games she won gold in the vault, the individual all-round, and the balance beam as well as silver in the team all-around, which she also had won in 1960. A supporter of Alexander Dubček's democrat reforms, she went into hiding after the 1968 Soviet military invasion and did not join the national gymnastics team until just prior to the Mexico City games. She won gold in the vault, the individual all-round, the floor exercises, and the uneven bars and silver in the balance beam and team all-around. Because she silently protested there by lowering her head and looking away as the Soviet anthem was played, she was barred from coaching in Czechoslovakia until 1974. She later (1979–81) coached in Mexico. After the 1989 “Velvet Revolution,” she became an adviser to President Havel and then head of the Czechoslovak (later, Czech) Olympic Committee and a member (1995–2001) of the International Olympic Committee.

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