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The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Ukraine

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This page contains a list of the greatest Ukrainian Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,059 Athletes, 79 of which were born in Ukraine. This makes Ukraine the birth place of the 16th most number of Athletes behind Australia and Hungary.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Ukrainian Athletes of all time. This list of famous Ukrainian Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Ukrainian Athletes.

Photo of Tamara Press

1. Tamara Press (1937 - 2021)

With an HPI of 58.80, Tamara Press is the most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages on wikipedia.

Tamara Natanovna Press (10 May 1937 – 26 April 2021) 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).Her younger sister, Irina Press, was also a prominent track athlete, mostly in the sprint events.

Photo of Irina Press

2. Irina Press (1939 - 2004)

With an HPI of 54.41, Irina Press is the 2nd most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Irina Natanovna Press (10 March 1939 – 21 February 2004) was a multitalented Soviet athlete who competed at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. In 1960, she won a gold medal in the 80 m hurdles and finished fourth in the 4 × 100 m relay. In 1964, she finished fourth in the hurdles and sixth in the shot put, but won gold in the newly introduced pentathlon event.Together with her elder sister, Tamara, Irina set 26 world records between 1959 and 1966. In 1967 she won her last USSR Championship. Both Press sisters ended their careers abruptly when gender verification was introduced. Some have suggested that the Press sisters were male or intersex. Another allegation was that they were being injected with male hormones by the Soviet government in order to make them stronger. In wartime Soviet evacuation lists from 1942 Irina Press, then aged 3, is identified as girl.After retiring from competitions Press earned a degree in physical education and coached at her club Dynamo Moscow. She also took posts in the Soviet sports administration, such as department head of the Soviet and later Russian State Committee on Physical Culture, Sports and Tourism. From 2000 and until her death in 2004, she headed the Moscow Committee of Physical Culture and Sports.

Photo of Volodymyr Holubnychy

3. Volodymyr Holubnychy (1936 - 2021)

With an HPI of 54.20, Volodymyr Holubnychy is the 3rd most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Volodymyr Stepanovych Holubnychy (Ukrainian: Володимир Степанович Голубничий; also spelt Vladimir Golubnichy, 2 June 1936 – 16 August 2021) was a Soviet and Ukrainian race walker, who competed for the Soviet Union. He dominated the 20 kilometre race walk in the 1960s and 1970s, winning four Olympic medals from 1960 to 1972 and finishing seventh in 1976. He became Olympic champion in 1960 and 1968. He is regarded as one of the greatest race walkers of all time and competed at the Olympics on five occasions in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976.

Photo of Leonid Bartenyev

4. Leonid Bartenyev (1933 - 2021)

With an HPI of 52.99, Leonid Bartenyev is the 4th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Leonid Vladimirovich Bartenyev (Russian: Леонид Владимирович Бартенев) (10 October 1933 – 17 November 2021) was a Soviet athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres. Bartenyev was born in Poltava in October 1933. He trained at Burevestnik in Kiev. He competed for the USSR in the 1956 Summer Olympics held in Melbourne in the 4 x 100 metre relay where he won the silver medal with his teammates Boris Tokarev, Yuriy Konovalov, and Vladimir Sukharev. He teamed up with Yuriy Konovalov again four years later in the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome in the 4 x 100 metre relay where they won their second silver medals with new teammates Gusman Kosanov and Edvin Ozolin.

Photo of Igor Ter-Ovanesyan

5. Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (1938 - )

With an HPI of 52.39, Igor Ter-Ovanesyan is the 5th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Igor Aramovich Ter-Ovanesyan (Russian: Игорь Арамович Тер-Ованесян, born 19 May 1938) is a Ukrainian former competitor and coach in the long jump. Competing for the Soviet Union, he was a five-time European and two-time Olympic medalist in this event. In 1985 he was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honour.

Photo of Anatoliy Bondarchuk

6. Anatoliy Bondarchuk (1940 - )

With an HPI of 52.33, Anatoliy Bondarchuk is the 6th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Anatoliy Pavlovych Bondarchuk (Ukrainian: Анатолій Павлович Бондарчук, born 31 May 1940) is a retired Ukrainian hammer thrower who competed for the Soviet Union. An Olympic gold medallist, he is also regarded as one of the most accomplished hammer throw coaches of all time. He is the author of a two-volume book Transfer of Training, which was translated from Russian to English by Michael Yessis. As an athlete, Bondarchuk accumulated numerous international awards and honors throughout a long career. Beginning the hammer throw at a late age of 24, he won his first international title at the 1969 European Championships. Near the end of the season, Bondarchuk set two world records in the event. Bondarchuk remained among the world's elite for several years and won the gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics while setting an Olympic Record of 75.50 meters. Four years later, he earned the bronze medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics. For his Olympic achievements Bondarchuk was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honour in 1972 and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1976.Despite his athletic success, Bondarchuk is equally well known as a coach. He began coaching while competing himself and has since worked with medal-winning athletes at five Olympic Games. His most famous trainee is two-time Olympic champion and current hammer world record holder Yuri Sedykh. Bondarchuck is currently living and coaching in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, where he guided Canadian shot put record holder Dylan Armstrong to a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His trainees in hammer throw include Canadian record holder Sultana Frizell, former Canadian record holders Jennifer Joyce and Crystal Smith, Megann Rodhe, U.S. champion Kibwe Johnson, Caymanian record holder Michael Letterlough, Swiss champion Martin Bingisser and 2012 Canadian Olympian Justin Rodhe.

Photo of Galina Chistyakova

7. Galina Chistyakova (1962 - )

With an HPI of 51.20, Galina Chistyakova is the 7th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Galina Valentinovna Chistyakova (Russian: Галина Валентиновна Чистякова, Slovak: Galina Čisťaková; born 26 July 1962) is a retired athlete who represented the Soviet Union and later Slovakia. She is the current world record holder in the long jump, jumping 7.52 metres on 11 June 1988. She is the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist and the 1989 World Indoor champion. She is also a former world record holder (pre IAAF) in the triple jump with 14.52 metres in 1989.

Photo of Vladimir Kuts

8. Vladimir Kuts (1927 - 1975)

With an HPI of 51.08, Vladimir Kuts is the 8th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Volodymyr Petrovych Kuts (Ukrainian: Володимир Петрович Куц, Russian: Владимир Петрович Куц, 7 February 1927 – 16 August 1975) was a Soviet long-distance runner. He won the 5000 and 10000 m races at the 1956 Olympics, setting Olympic records in both events.

Photo of Viorica Viscopoleanu

9. Viorica Viscopoleanu (1939 - )

With an HPI of 50.95, Viorica Viscopoleanu is the 9th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Viorica Viscopoleanu (née Belmega on 8 August 1939) is a retired Romanian long jumper athlete. She competed at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics and won a gold medal in 1968, setting a new world record. At the European championships she won a silver medal outdoors in 1969 and two medals indoors, in 1970 and 1971. After retiring from competitions she worked as a coach at her club Steaua București. Monica Iagăr was one of her trainees.

Photo of Faina Melnik

10. Faina Melnik (1945 - 2016)

With an HPI of 50.90, Faina Melnik is the 10th most famous Ukrainian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Faina Grigorievna Melnik (Russian: Фаина Григорьевна Велева-Мельник, Ukrainian: Фаїна Григорівна Мельник (Faina Hryhorivna Melnyk); 9 June 1945 – 16 December 2016) was a Soviet discus thrower, a 1972 Summer Olympics champion in the discus event. During her career she set 11 world records.

Pantheon has 79 people classified as athletes born between 1904 and 2001. Of these 79, 60 (75.95%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, Anatoliy Bondarchuk, and Galina Chistyakova. The most famous deceased athletes include Tamara Press, Irina Press, and Volodymyr Holubnychy. As of April 2022, 22 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Leonid Bartenyev, Irina Kirichenko, and Vladimír Syrovátka.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2022)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 17 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.