Tamara Press achieved the last throwing double in Olympic history

Photo : tokyo2020.org
tokyo2020.org|14-Oct-2020 16:08

In October 1964, Tokyo hosted their first Olympic Games. To celebrate, Tokyo 2020 will bring you some of the most incredible and historic moments that took place 56 years ago. In the latest part of the series, we take a look at Tamara Press, who achieved the last shot put/discus double at the Olympics.

The background
Tamara Press's name cannot be mentioned without also referring to her sister. The Soviet athlete, who specialised in throwing events, always competed alongside her younger sister Irina. Together, they formed the famous Press sisters.

Tamara was a discus and shot put thrower. She had won gold in the women's shot put at Rome 1960 and won silver in the discus. Irina on the other hand, was also a talented shot put thrower, and a runner who had won gold in the 80m hurdles at Rome 1960.

Together, the Press sisters were travelling around the world and basically winning everything they could.

In 1959, Tamara broke the shot put world record before doing so in the discus a year later.

Ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964, she was clearly the favourite to win gold in both disciplines to become the second woman in history to achieve the shot put/discus double after French athlete Micheline Ostermeyer at London 1948.

The moment
The first competition for Tamara was discus, held on 19 October 1964 at the Olympic Stadium. Her first throw wasn't as far as she expected but she went on to throw 55.38m - still well below her world record of 59.29m.

At this stage of the competition, she was fourth but Tamara would wait until the fifth and penultimate throw to clock 57.27m - an Olympic record!

This was enough to claim gold in the same event she had won silver in four years earlier.

The second historic moment happened a day later. In the shot put, Tamara was the reigning Olympic champion. She obviously was in a hurry as she threw 16.57m on her first attempt and nobody came close to beating it.

The Olympic shot put/discus double was secured.

Meanwhile, her sister took part in the first ever women's pentathlon - an event that would be changed to heptathlon at the Los Angeles 1984 Games - and claimed gold. She also finished fourth in the 80m hurdles and placed sixth in the shot put.

What happened next?
This Olympic double from Tamara is an achievement that has never been repeated again.

Two years after the Tokyo 1964 Games, the Press sisters retired from athletics at the age of 29 (Tamara) and 27 (Irina).

Tamara held the discus world record until 1967 and the shot put world record until 1968 but her Olympic records were beaten four years later at Mexico 1968.

She also won three European titles (two in discus, one in shot put) between 1958 and 1962.

After her retirement, Tamara graduated with a degree in pedagogy and worked for several governmental bodies. She also received the Russian Order of the Badge of Honour - an award given to Soviet civilians with outstanding achievements.