Who Is Lidiya Ivanova? Everything to Know About Russian Gymnastics Legend Leading Commentary for US Core Hydration 2024?

Published 05/14/2024, 3:44 PM EDT

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“You Americans should be getting nervous”, is what Russian gymnastics legend Lidiya Kalinina Ivanova stated back in 2012. This was the time when she was guiding the Soviet gymnastics team towards Olympic glory. Well, as confident and outrageous as Ivanova sounded during her coaching stint, she was equally impressive while performing on the mat. The Soviet Union has gifted the world several iconic gymnastics talents over the past years. Even when Nadia Comaneci reigned supreme, they had to settle for a silver in the team competition. Well, while Comaneci’s antics will be etched in history forever, another name that has made its way into gymnastics folklore is Lidia Ivanova. 

Ivanova was born on January 27, 1937, in Moscow. Starting from her childhood, Ivanova’s inclination towards gymnastics grew stronger as she aged. Turning her dreams into reality, Ivanova led the Soviet Union to glory by clinching the Olympic gold in two successive Games. She is also a 2x World Champion. Considered a pioneer, the multi-talented Ivanova has ventured into various fields like judging, coaching, and commentating. Currently 87 years old, while Ivanova continues to inspire the future generation, here’s a look back at the golden pages of her ornamented career. 

All about the Russian Olympic Champion Lidiya Ivanova


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Having a keen eye for gymnastics, Lidia Ivanova did not waste time getting into the mix. She started her journey as early as the fourth grade when she enrolled under Boris Dankevich. Ivanova’s talents soon began to blossom as she completed her Masters in sports within 14 years. She began winning at national levels and soon became the champion of Moscow. 


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After continuing her sublime run for several years, Ivanova was called up to train at the Dynamo Sports Club. While training there, the gymnast came in contact with Aleksei Aleksandrov, which helped bolster her career significantly in the right manner. Emerging as the next big thing in the gymnastics realm, Ivanova then targeted Olympic glory. And well, she did achieve the same in flying colors. 

Competing in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics held in Melbourne and Rome, respectively, Ivanova won gold on both occasions. She also boasts of a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics while competing in the team portable apparatus exercise, which has now been discontinued. Soon after her Olympics glory, Ivanova ensured that she did not get carried away and kept up with the good work. 

Lidia Ivanova emerged as the all-around winner of the Soviet Union in 1958 and also excelled in the 1958 and 1962 worlds. Ivanova also finished second best to bag a silver at the 1958 edition of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. After injury marred her progress, Ivanova decided to call it a day in 1964. However, she was far from completely staying out of the gymnastics community. 

Graduating with a coach’s degree, Ivanova joined the junior national team as a coach. Looking at her success, the Olympian soon joined in as the senior national team’s coach and also worked as the head coach in the 1992 edition of the Olympics. Apart from these, Ivanova also had a stint in sports commentating for some time. Outside of her on-field shenanigans, Ivanova married the love of her life, soccer legend Valentin Ivanov.

Who is Ivanova’s husband, the soccer legend?

Lidia Ivanova tied the knot with soccer extraordinaire Valentin Kozmich Ivanov in 1959. Valentin Ivanov played as a midfielder for the Russian soccer team. Ivanov was a member of the 1962 World Cup-winning Russian team. He was the co-leading goal scorer for the season. Representing the Soviet Union, Ivanov secured the UEFA European Championships Cup in 1960 in France. And in 1964 Soviet Union emerged as the runners-up in the UEFA European Championships in Spain. Also, Ivanov was the highest goal scorer for the 1962 World Cup.


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With such international glories and remarkable contribution towards the sport, Ivanov is the third-highest goal scorer of all time for the Soviet Union following Oleg Blokhin and Oleg Protasov. But this is not all. In 1956, another feather was added to his hat. Holding the hands of his wife, Olympic gold medalist Lidia Ivanova won gold in the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics. 

Ivanov was a valuable part of the Russian Soccer Club Torpedo Moscow for the larger number of years of his career. Although his early years began under the shed of Krylia Sovetov Moscow, just after 2 years he signed with Torpedo Moscow in 1952. His senior career as a soccer player stretched till 1966. And from 1967 he served in managerial positions for Torpedo Moscow till 1991. Ivanov later became a part of the Morocco soccer club Raja Casablanca in 1992 and in 1994 he served Asmaral Moscow. Later in 1998, he again came back to Torpedo Moscow taking a managerial position where he scored 124 goals during the peak of his soccer career.


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The Russian soccer legend and Olympic medalist and the gymnastics icon Lidiya Ivanova have a son, named Valentin Ivanov. And maintaining the legacy of his name, he too is a soccer player. Their son Valentin Ivanov too played for Torpedo Moscow and is currently a retired soccer player. He also works as a referee and physical education instructor at present in Moscow.


Written by:

Disita Sikdar


One take at a time

Disita is a US Sports writer at EssentiallySports, who specializes in covering track and field, equestrian sports, alpine skiing, and gymnastics. Her art of bringing Olympic Sports to life with a blend of meticulous research and knack for capturing the essence of athletic triumphs, makes her a trusted voice in world of sports journalism. Holding a master’s degree in English Literature, and formerly a social media manager and content writer for three years, Disita is also a published author.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar