Times Colonist

‘Man of Iron’ was superstar of Olympics


LONDON — Boris Shakhlin, who died on May 30 aged 76, was one of the most successful gymnasts in the history of the Olympics; known as “the Man of Iron”, he also won six individual titles in the world championsh­ips.

Representi­ng the Soviet Union, Shakhlin was competing in an era during which his nation’s gymnasts were vying for supremacy with Japan.

At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, he helped the Soviet Union defeat Japan for the team gold medal, and he won a second gold on the pommel horse.

At the next Olympics, in Rome, Shakhlin was the star of the Games, emerging as Olympic champion with four golds (the all-round title, parallel bars, vault and pommel horse), two silvers (rings and team) and a bronze (horizontal bar).

Two years earlier, in 1958, he had won the world championsh­ips in handsome style, gathering five golds in the competitio­n.

Boris Anfiyanovi­ch Shakhlin was born at Ishim, Russia, on Jan. 27, 1932. He was orphaned when he was only 12, and was subsequent­ly brought up by his grandmothe­r, who encouraged his interest in gymnastics.

He was unusually tall for a gymnast, which caused difficulti­es for him on the floor exercises; but his height and reach were a distinct advantage on the horizontal bar, in which he excelled.

After graduating from the Sverdlovsk Physical Training College, Boris took individual coaching from AS Mishanov in Kyiv, Ukraine, before going on to the Kyiv Institute of Physical Culture in 1955.

In the previous year, he had won a silver medal on the bar at his first world championsh­ips. At the 1962 world championsh­ips, Shakhlin was the silver medallist in four events, and took a bronze in two others. Two years later he was crowned Oympic champion at the Tokyo games.

Shakhlin retired in 1966 after suffering a heart attack, and went on to work as a coach in Ukraine and to serve his sport as an internatio­nal judge.

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