Hersch, Hank
October 1992
Sports Illustrated;10/22/92, Vol. 77 Issue 17, p13
When 7-year-old Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut performed her daring back flips on the uneven bars and balance beam at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, television viewers around the world gasped. "I don't believe it!" said ABC's color commentator Gordon Maddux when Korbut flung herself into space while performing on the bars. "Give her an 11!" Now living in Atlanta, Georgia, Korbut looks back and sees herself as an innovator, one who pushed the envelope in gymnastics, having much the same impact that a mostly male cast has had in other sports. Much has happened to Korbut since 1972: She married folk-rock musician Leonid Bortkevich, and in 1979 they had a son, Richard. When friends and relatives became ill, some even dying because of what Korbut believes were Chernobyl-related causes, she and Richard underwent cancer tests on a trip to the U.S. While their tests were negative, Korbut became convinced during the trip that she needed to get personally involved in aiding Chernobyl victims. Working with the Seattle, Washington-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Olga Korbut Foundation has raised $70,000 for medical supplies, equipment and training, mainly through speeches and clinics given by Korbut. The foundation has also enabled two teenage girls--one, from Minsk, with congenital heart problems, and another, from Grodno, Korbut's birthplace, with leukemia--to come to the U.S. for treatment.


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