KIEV - Olympic gymnastics champion Boris Shaklin, the only athlete to win four gold medals at the Rome Olympics, died Friday of cardiac arrest. He was 76.
"With the loss of Boris Shaklin, a legend disappears; I would go as far as to say that a glorious chapter in the history of international gymnastics has come to a close," Bruno Grandi, president of the International Gymnastics Federation, said in a statement. "He was an icon as an athlete."
Mr. Shaklin, nicknamed the "Mask of Iron," won 13 Olympic medals - seven gold - as part of the Soviet gymnastics squads that battled Japan in the 1950s and 1960s in one of gymnastics' great rivalries. He also was the world champion in 1958.
At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Mr. Shaklin helped the Soviets edge Japan for the team gold and won a second gold on pommel horse. Four years later in Rome, Japan won the first of what would be five straight team golds, but it was Mr. Shaklin who was the biggest star of the Games.
He won the all-around title, and three other golds on parallel bars, vault, and the pommel horse. He won a silver in the team competition and another on rings, and added a bronze on high bar. His seven medals in Rome tie him for second-most by an athlete at a single Games.
Mr. Shaklin won another gold medal, on the high bar, at the 1964 Games, as well as silvers in the all-around and team competition and a bronze on rings.
Mr. Shaklin retired in 1966, and went on to coach in his native Ukraine and serve as an international judge. In 2002, he was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.