Tamara Natanova Press
track and field
At the 1960 Rome Games, Tamara and her sister Irina Press made quite an impression in their first Olympic competition, becoming the first pair of sisters to win gold medals at the same Olympiad.
Tamara won the gold in the shot put with a distance of 56' 9-7/8" (breaking the Olympic record by over two-feet) while her sister won the 80-meter hurdles (tying the Olympic record along the way). In the discus throw competition, Tamara won the silver with a toss of 162'6-1/2".
Both Press sisters returned to the Olympics at the 1964 Tokyo Games, amassing a total of three gold medals between them. Irina won the pentathlon and Tamara swept the throwing competitions, breaking Olympic records and winning the gold medal in both the shot put (59'6-1/8") and discus throw (187'10-1/2") .
Controversy surrounds Tamara and Irina to this day. Although they were extremely successful in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they suddenly disappeared from international competition when sex tests were introduced. Doubts and questions still linger as to whether the Press sisters had been injected with male hormones by Soviet officials, or as some assert, were actually men. Either way, their records and accomplishments remain on the books. Tamara won the gold medal in the discus at the 1958 and 1962 European Championships, captured the gold in 1962 and the bronze in 1958 at the European Championships, and set the world record in both the shot put and discus throw. Tamara and Irina set a combined total of 23 world records.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 10, 1937
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
The Complete Book of the Olympics, by David Wallechinsky (New York: Viking, 1988)
New York Times, August 27-September 9, 1960
New York Times, October 11-October 25, 1964