Nina Otkalenko

Last updated

Nina Otkalenko
Personal information
Born23 May 1928 [1]
Kursk Oblast, Russia
Died13 May 2015 (aged 86) [2]
Moscow, Russia
Event(s)400–1500 m
Club CSKA Moscow
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)400 m – 55.0 (1955)
800 m – 2:05.0 (1955) [1]

Nina Grigoryevna Otkalenko (née Pletnyova; Russian : Нина Григорьевна Откаленко; 23 May 1928 – 13 May 2015) was a Soviet middle-distance runner. She won a European title in the 800 m at the inaugural 1954 European Athletics Championships and set multiple world records in this event in 1951–54. She missed the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, where women's middle-distance events were not part of the program, and the 1960 Olympics due to an injury. [2]

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a federal sovereign state in northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

1954 European Athletics Championships 1954 edition of the European Athletics Championships

The 5th European Athletics Championships were held at Stadion Neufeld from 25–29 August 1954 in the Swiss capital Bern. Contemporaneous reports on the event were given in the Glasgow Herald.


In the 1950s Otkalenko became the most successful record breaker in the women's 800 m event. Starting with a world record of 2:12.0 minutes in 1951, she went on to improve her own 800 metres world record four more times. Spearheading a significant improvement in women's times in the event over her career, her last world record of 2:05.0 minutes in 1955 stood for almost five years, before it was beaten by her compatriot Lyudmila Shevtsova. [3] She ranked number one in the world in the 800 m every year from 1951 to 1958, bar 1956 and 1957 when she ranked second to Lyudmila Lysenko and Yelizaveta Yermolayeva. She also set world records in the pre-IAAF era, with a 400 m record of 55.5 in 1954 and a 1500 m record of 4:37.0 minutes in 1952. [1] [4]

Lyudmila Shevtsova athletics competitor

Lyudmila Ivanovna Gurevitch is a retired Soviet athlete who competed mainly in the 800 metres. On 3 July 1960, she set a world record in this event at 2 min 4.3 seconds. She equalled this time while winning the 800 m gold at the 1960 Olympics two months later. Two Australians, Brenda Jones and Dixie Willis led the race. With 50–70 m left, Willis stepped on the curb and dropped out of competition, while Shevtsova gradually reached Jones and won in the last meters.

Yelizaveta Aleksandrovna Yermolayeva is a former Soviet middle-distance runner.

Outside of her European title, she won medals at the World Festival of Youth and Students, twice winning the 800 m title in 1953 and 1955, as well as taking 400 metres silver medals at both those championships. [5] She was highly successful in domestic competition, ending her career with a total of 22 Soviet titles in track and field and cross country disciplines. [2]

World Festival of Youth and Students

The World Festival of Youth and Students is an international event, organized by the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and the International Union of Students after 1947. Initially pluralist, the event became an outlet for Soviet propaganda for foreign audiences during the Cold War.

The 4th World Festival of Youth and Students featured an athletics competition among its programme of events. The events were contested in Bucharest, Romania in August 1953. Mainly contested among Eastern European athletes, it served as an alternative to the more Western European-oriented 1953 Summer International University Sports Week held in Dortmund the same year.

The 5th World Festival of Youth and Students featured an athletics competition among its programme of events. The events were contested in Warsaw, Poland in August 1955. Mainly contested among Eastern European athletes, it served as an alternative to the more Western European-oriented 1955 Summer International University Sports Week held in San Sebastián the same year.

Personal bests

400 metres sprint running event

The 400 metres, or 400 metre dash, is a sprinting event in track and field competitions. It has been featured in the athletics programme at the Summer Olympics since 1896 for men and since 1964 for women. On a standard outdoor running track, it is one lap around the track. Runners start in staggered positions and race in separate lanes for the entire course. In many countries, athletes previously competed in the 440 yard dash (402.336 m)—which is a quarter of a mile and was referred to as the 'quarter-mile'—instead of the 400 m (437.445 yards), though this distance is now obsolete.

800 metres middle-distance running event

The 800 metres, or 800 meters, is a common track running event. It is the shortest common middle-distance running event. The 800 metres is run over two laps of the track and has been an Olympic event since the first games in 1896. During indoor track season the event is usually run on a 200-metre track, therefore requiring four laps.

1500 metres foremost middle distance track event in athletics

The 1500 metres or 1,500-metre run is the foremost middle distance track event in athletics. The distance has been contested at the Summer Olympics since 1896 and the World Championships in Athletics since 1983. It is equivalent to 1.5 kilometers or approximately ​1516 miles.

International competitions

1953 World Festival of Youth and Students Bucharest, Romania2nd400 m56.7
1st800 m2:10.5
1954 European Championships Bern, Switzerland1st 800 m 2:08.8 CR
1955 World Festival of Youth and Students Warsaw, Poland2nd400 m55.5
1st800 m2:09.4

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  1. 1 2 3 Nina Otkalenko. Track and Field Brinkster. Retrieved on 17 May 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Former world record-holder and 1954 European 800m champion Otkalenko dies. IAAF (14 May 2015). Retrieved on 2015-05-17.
  3. "IAAF World Championships: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Daegu 2011" (PDF). Monte Carlo: IAAF Media & Public Relations Department. 2011. pp. 595, 597. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  4. Women, 1500 m World record progression. Track and Field Brinkster. Retrieved on 17 May 2015.
  5. World Student Games (UIE). GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 9 December 2014.
Preceded by
Valentina Pomogayeva
Women's 800 metres world record holder
26 August 1951 – 3 July 1960
Succeeded by
Lyudmila Shevtsova