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  1. ITV Report

Former top Soviet gymnast sells Olympic medals after reportedly suffering financial difficulties

Olga Korbut at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Credit: AP

Former top Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut has sold the gold and silver medals she won at the Munich 1972 Olympics after reportedly suffering financial difficulties.

The sale of seven lots - including two golds and a silver from the Munich Games - fetched £147,000 when sold by Heritage Auctions.

The most expensive item was her team gold which sold for £53,000.

Korbut's team gold sold for £53,000. Credit: Heritage Auctions

Russian media reported that the 61-year-old has sold her medals after suffering financial difficulties, with a headline on the country's Gazeta.ru website reading "Medals saved Korbut from hunger".

Korbut won three gold medals in the team, balance beam, and floor disciplines in Munich, along with a silver on the uneven bars.

The gold medal for the balance beam was not sold as it was previously stolen.

At the following Olympics in Montreal in 1976, Korbut again won team gold and also took silver on the balance beam.

Korbut performs at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Credit: AP

The gymnast - nicknamed "the Sparrow from Minsk" due to her height of only 4ft 11in (1.5m) - also won a host of gold and silver medals at the World and European Gymnastic Championships in the 1970s.

Korbut with one of her 1972 Munich Olympics gold medals. Credit: AP

Speaking about the sale, Heritage Auctions said: "Korbut parts with the mementos of her youthful glory because the thing she values most is always with her.

"There is hardly a gymnast alive who doesn't credit this tiny force of nature for the explosion of the sport's popularity on a global level, for establishing gymnastics as the most anticipated competition of the Summer Games."

The sale also included a leotard worn by Korbut in a USSR gymnastics display in London, a signed passport, her 1972 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and an International Gymnastics Hall of Fame trophy which was presented to the Belarusian in 1988, amongst other lots.

Now aged 61, Korbut lives in Arizona. Credit: AP

At the height of the Cold War Korbut's breathtaking routines won her millions of admirers when she was just 17 and competing in the 1972 Olympics.

Korbut - who moved to the US in 1991 and now lives in Arizona - developed a signature move, the Korbut Flip, a spectacular trick which saw her somersault off a bar and then catch it. However, the move is now banned from the Olympics as it is considered too dangerous.