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Lidiya Skoblikova, the most successful Olympic speed skater.

Great Russian Women

Lidiya Skoblikova

Lidiya Pavlovna Skoblikova born 8 March 1939 is the most successful Olympic speed skater in terms of Olympic gold medals. Representing the USSR Olympic team during the Olympic Winter Games in 1960 and 1964, she won a total of six gold medals, still a record number for a speed skater. She also won 25 gold medals at the World Championships and 15 gold medals at the USSR National Championships in several distances. She was also the first athlete to earn six gold medals in the Olympic Winter Games.

At age 19, Skoblikova qualified for the Soviet World Championships team, placing third in the national championships. She repeated that performance at the World Championships, winning two distance medals as well. The next season, she seemed headed for the World Title after winning the 500 m and placing 2nd in the 1500 m, but she fell in the 1000 m. By winning the final 3000 m, she managed to land on the podium anyway, placing third again. A favourite for the Olympics now, she entered three events. In the first race, the 1500 m, she broke the World Record, and won the gold medal. After just missing a second medal in the 1000 m (fourth), Skoblikova approached the World Record in the 3000 m (missing it by just half a second), but that was enough for her second gold medal.

In 1961, she won the bronze for the third consecutive time, followed by the silver medal in 1962. In 1963, she finally managed to win the title. In Karuizawa, conditions were excellent, and Skoblikova won all four races, setting a new 1000 m World Record in the process.

Skoblikova became the first Winter Olympian to win four individual gold medals in 1964. In 1968, she skated her third and last Olympics, but did not win a medal again - the 6th place in the 3000 m was her best ranking. She retired in 1969 after, remarkably, never having won the USSR National Allround Championships - only single distances. In 1983, Skoblikova, then a member of the Soviet National Olympic Committee, received a silver Olympic Order

Skoblikova was inducted in the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

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