GOROKHOVSKAYA, MARIA (1921– ), Soviet gymnast, winner of seven medals at the 1952 Olympics. Born in Yevpatoria, Ukraine, Gorokhovskaya volunteered for military service in World War II, serving in hospitals in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) during the Nazi siege of the city. She was decorated with the Order of the Great Patriotic War, as well as other honorable citations.
Gorokhovskaya won her first U.S.S.R. gymnastic title on the balance beam in 1948. Four years later the Soviet Union made its debut at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, and Gorokhovskaya's gold medals were the first ever won by the Soviet Union. Altogether Gorokhovskaya – at the advanced age of 30 – won gold medals in the individual and team all-around events, and silver medals in the vault, parallel bars, balance beam, floor exercise, and team hand apparatus. Her seven medals are the most ever won by one woman at one Olympic Games.
At the 1954 World Championships, Gorokhovskaya finished third in the floor exercise, fourth in the vault, and seventh in the all-around, and helped the Soviet Union capture the gold medal in the team event. It was her final international competition.
Gorokhovskaya was the world's top-ranked female gymnast in 1952 and 1953, No. 3 in 1954, and No. 2 in 1955. The Soviet Union awarded her its highest sports honor, the Order of Red Banner, and the Honorary Master of Sport.
Gorokhovskaya immigrated to Israel in 1990, and only then was it revealed that she was Jewish – she had kept her identity a lifelong secret in the Soviet Union so as not to hurt her gymnastic career.
[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.