The Soviet Union earned the nickname Big Red Sports Machine during their glory days. The nation experienced its collapse in 1991. Sports Science was nationally funded, with the aim of Soviet athletes to excel in all Olympics sports.
Even though it has not existed for the past 30 years, the Soviet Union still maintains the record for the most Olympic gold medals in wrestling. They have a total of 62 gold medals to their credit.
Soviet Union Sports Science
After the second world war, most nations turned their focus into sports. America, for instance, began its long and arduous journey in perfecting its sports science. Unfortunately, there was no state support nor funding provided for American coaches.
It was a different story for the Iron Curtain. Developing a comprehensive, nationally financed sports science program to improve Olympic performance in all sports occurred. Coaches worked hand-in-hand with researchers.
Coaches and researchers looked into the very athletes who will compete in the Olympic Games. And rather than focusing solely on the physiological responses to exercise, the researchers adopted a more holistic approach. They recognized that sports and sports training must be understood in the context of broader physical culture and society.
This was the exact opposite of what the Americans were doing. Unfortunately, American coaches had no government funding, nor did they have access to researchers to train their athletes. They had to create their system and training methodologies. American coaches did not have empirical data to understand and improve the performance of their athletes.
The role of sport in Soviet society was demonstrated throughout the Cold War, ranging from the early 1950s until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. Sports represented the ideological power struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States, providing an arena where American athletes could be defeated without fear.
The Soviet Union’s debut at the 1952 Olympics was dramatic. From that point, the Soviets dominated the winter and summer Olympic Games, amassing 395 gold, 319 silver, and 296 bronze medals.
Lev Pavlovich Matveyev played a big part in the Soviet training regimen for athletes. In 1965, he introduced and published his book The Fundamentals of Sports Training. Matveyev analyzed athletes’ performances, and from the data, he established a general theory of sport and training that led to the training process of continual improvement and peaking at the optimum time. (Source: CAIRN)
Soviet Union Gold Medals
No country has ever won more medals in the Olympic Wrestling competition than the Soviet Union. The former country, which only competed in the Olympics from 1952 until 1991, earned the most gold medals. They dominated freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling competitions, earning them a total of 62 gold medals. (Source: The Open Mat)
In the years the Soviet Union competed in the Olympics, they have earned 51 gold, 37 silver, and 30 bronze medals for freestyle wrestling. The Soviets won 34 gold, 16 silver, and 10 bronze in Greco-roman wrestling. The only year the Soviets did not win gold medals for freestyle wrestling was in 1960. (Source: Grappling School)