Irina Press
Irina Natanovna Press (10 March 1939, Kharkiv
Kharkiv or Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine.The city was founded in 1654 and was a major centre of Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv became the first city in Ukraine where the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in December 1917 and Soviet government was...

 – 21 February 2004, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

) was a Ukrainian
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...



Press was Jewish. She won two Olympic gold medal
Gold medal
A gold medal is typically the medal awarded for highest achievement in a non-military field. Its name derives from the use of at least a fraction of gold in form of plating or alloying in its manufacture...

s for the USSR team
USSR at the Summer Olympics
The Soviet Union first participated at the Olympic Games in 1952, and competed at the Games on 18 occasions since then. At seven of its nine appearances at the Summer Olympic Games, the team ranked first in the total number of medals won, it was second by this count on the other two...

, in 80 m hurdles
Hurdling is a type of track and field race.- Distances :There are sprint hurdle races and long hurdle races. The standard sprint hurdle race is 110 meters for men and 100 meters for women. The standard long hurdle race is 400 meters for both men and women...

 (1960) and pentathlon
Women's pentathlon
The pentathlon is a sports contest made up of five events . The women's pentathlon was contested in the Olympics from 1964 until 1980, and it was replaced in the 1984 Games with the heptathlon. It had a different set of events than the ancient Olympic pentathlon...

 (1964). She trained at VSS Trud and later at Dynamo.

Together with her older sister Tamara Press
Tamara Press
Tamara Natanovna Press is a former Soviet shot putter and discus thrower in the 1960s.-Career:Press is Jewish. She competed for VSS Trud...

, who was also a track
Track and field
Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based around the activities of running, jumping and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the venue for the competitions: a stadium which features an oval running track surrounding a grassy area...

 athlete, she was half of the "Press Sisters", a duo who won almost everything that there was to win in track and field, except for distance running. The two sisters won five track and field Olympic gold medals for the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and set 26 world records in the 1960s.

Questions regarding gender

Their careers suddenly ended at the time that sex verification was introduced. Critics have suggested that the Presses were actually male, or perhaps hermaphrodite
In biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes.Many taxonomic groups of animals do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which both...

s. Another opinion was that they were being injected with male hormones in order to make them stronger. Detractors called them the "Press Brothers". After gender verification for all international sporting female events was made mandatory in 1966 (curtailed in Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 in 2000), both vanished from the sporting scene. The Western press took that as a confession by the Soviet Union. Russian newspapers still deny the allegations.

See also

  • List of select Jewish track and field athletes

External links

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