Tamara PRESS

Tamara Press - U.S.S.R. - 1960 and 1964 Olympic Shot Put champion

Photo/Foto: E. D. Lacey (1922-1976)

Date: 20 September 1961

Click on image to enlarge

      Monday, 10 May 1937
      Kharkov, Ukraine
  • U.S.S.R.

Tamara PRESS - U.S.S.R. - 1960 and 1964 Olympic Shot Put champion


No athlete in history has dominated both the shot put and discus as successfully as Tamara Press, who set six world records in each of these events during her illustrious career. In addition, her younger sister Irina was world record holder and Olympic Champion in both the 80m hurdles and pentathlon, making the Press sisters arguably the greatest pair of siblings in athletics history. Tamara gained her first success in a major international at the 1958 European Championships in Stockholm, where she won the discus gold medal on 22 August with a 52.32m effort in the final round, as well as a bronze medal in the shot put the following day. Tamara started her assault on the world record books on 26 April 1959 when she set a new shot put mark of 17.25m.

The following year she improved her world record on two subsequent occasions prior to the Olympic Games in Rome, firstly to 17.42m on 16 July and then to 17.78m on 13 August. As the overwhelming favourite at Rome, she easily won the gold medal with her second round put of 17.32m. Tamara won her second Olympic medal three days later in the discus final, held on 5 September, when she finished second behind countrywoman Nina Ponomaryeva with a best throw of 52.59m.


Only seven days later, and still in Rome, Tamara broke her first discus world record with a throw of 57.15m at a post-Olympic international meet. In 1961, she improved this record to 57.43m at Moscow on 15 July, and then to 58.06m on 1 September at Sofia. Finally, at an England v Russia international meet at White City, London on 19-20 September, Tamara not only won the shot put (see photo above) with 16.42m, but also won the discus with another world record of 58.98m. (Ron Casey)




 This portrait of Tamara Press was taken on 17th. June 1966 by Ed Lacey  (1922-1976).


By the beginning of 1962, Tamara Press had well and truly established her domination of both the shot put and discus, not only holding the world record in each event, but also owning the top eight shot and top five discus performances on the all-time world lists. During that year, Press continued to distance herself from the rest of the world in the shot put, setting a new world record of 18.55m at Leipzig on 19 June, and equalling this mark when she easily won the gold medal at the European Championships in Belgrade on 12 September. Three days later she added the discus gold medal, beating the rest of the field by over 3 metres with her 56.91m winning throw. Tamara further extended her discus world record to 59.29m in 1963, and it seemed it would be a mere formality for her to repeat her European Championships double gold at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.


However, her quest in Tokyo had a shaky start when Ingrid Lotz (East Germany) took the lead with an Olympic record 57.21m in round one. Press was only lying in fourth position at the end of round four, before producing 57.27m with her next throw to just nip Lotz for the gold. Tamara won more convincingly in the shot put final the following day, leading from round one, and producing her best throw of 18.14m on her final attempt. Press continued her dominance of both events into the 1966 season, but abruptly withdrew from further international competition when sex testing was introduced at that year's European Championships in Budapest. One of Tamara's last appearances (see photo above) was at a Great Britain v Soviet Union international match at White City, London on 17-18 June where she won the discus on the 17th with 58.90m, and the shot put with 17.81m the following day. (Ron Casey)