Tamara Press

Tamara Natanovna Press[nb 1] (10 May 1937 – 26 April 2021)[1] was a Soviet athlete who dominated the shot put and discus throw in the early 1960s. She won three gold medals and one silver medal at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics and three European titles in 1958–1962. Between 1959 and 1965 she set 11 world records: five in the shot put and six in the discus. She also held 16 national titles, nine in the shot put (1958–66) and seven in the discus (1960–66).[2]

Tamara Press
Tamara Press 1964.jpg
Tamara Press at the 1964 Olympics
Personal information
Born(1937-05-10)10 May 1937
Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died26 April 2021(2021-04-26) (aged 83)
Moscow, Russia
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight102 kg (225 lb)
SportShot put, discus throw
ClubTrud Leningrad

Her younger sister, Irina Press, was also a prominent track athlete, mostly in the sprint events.[3]


Tamara Press was born in Kharkiv, Soviet Union. Her father died fighting in World War II in 1942 and her mother took the daughters to Samarkand, where they started training in athletics.[4][5] In 1955 Press moved to Leningrad to train under the renowned coach Viktor Alekseyev. The following year she was shortlisted for the Olympic team but was dropped owing to strong domestic competition in the throwing events.[6][7]

Retirement and gender rumorsEdit

Both sisters were accused of being either secretly male or intersex.[4][8][9] They retired in 1966, just before sex verification became mandatory on location.[10] In 1942 wartime Soviet evacuation records Tamara Press, then aged 5, is documented as a girl.[11]

In retirement Press worked as an athletics coach and official in Moscow.[3] She wrote several books on sport, social and economical subjects. In 1974 she defended a PhD in pedagogy.[2] She was awarded the Order of Lenin (1960), Order of the Badge of Honour (1964) and Order of Friendship (1997).[6][12]


  1. ^ Russian: Тамара Натановна Пресс, Ukrainian: Тамара Натанівна Пресс, Tamara Natanivna Press


  1. ^ Sandomir, Richard (4 May 2021). "Tamara Press, Olympian Whose Feats Raised Questions, Dies at 83". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c Пресс Тамара Натановна. Olympic Encyclopedia (2006)
  3. ^ a b c Tamara Press. sports-reference.com
  4. ^ a b c Irina Press. Telegraph.co.uk. 31 May 2004
  5. ^ a b Uri Miller. Jews in Sport in the USSR. Yivo Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 29 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Пресс Тамара Натановна. excelion.ru
  7. ^ "Jewish Girl, Winner of Olympic Gold Medal, Decorated in Moscow". 3 October 1960. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Switch hitter: If a man has a sex change can he compete in the Olympics as a woman?" thestraightdope.com. 22 August 2008
  9. ^ Olympic Gender Drama-The Press Sisters. TransGriot. 9 November 2011
  10. ^ Wallechinsky, David (2012). The Book of Olympic Lists. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-84513-773-1.
  11. ^ Tamara Press in evacuation lists (1942)
  12. ^ a b Пресс Тамара Натановна. Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

External linksEdit

Preceded by Women's Discus World Record Holder
12 September 1960 – 5 November 1967
Succeeded by