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Zinaida Turchina celebrates her 70th birthday

Björn Pazen / jjr

Zinaida Turchina celebrates her 70th birthday

A true legend of female handball celebrates her 70th birthday on 17 May; Zinaida Turchyna.

With her maiden name, Stolitenko, she arrived at Soviet top club Spartak Kyiv at the age of 16 - and immediately showed her extraordinary talent.

Coached by Igor Turchin, who later became her husband, both on a club level and with the Soviet national team - she became one of the most successful players in the history of women’s handball.

Turchina never left her club until she retired as a player at the age of 42 (!) in 1988, then she took over the coaching position from her husband until he died in 1993.

Turchina won 20 straight Soviet championship titles with Spartak from 1969 to 1988 and in addition took the Soviet cup 13 times.

On an international level, Turchina and Spartak took the trophy of the Champions’ Cup (forerunner of the EHF Champions League) twelve times between 1970 and 1988.

But her successes with the national team, for which she played continually from 1965 to 1988, finally having more than 500 international matches to her credit, were even more impressive.

In 1976 and 1980 she led her team to Olympic gold medals, in 1988 she won another Olympic bronze medal, after the Soviet Union had boycotted the Games at Los Angeles in 1984.

Turchina was also a world champion in 1982 and 1986, silver medallist in 1975 and 1978 and bronze medallist in 1973. In 2000, an expert jury of the International Handball Federation named her as the 'best female handball player of the century'.

After her active career, she became Kiev’s and Ukraine’s national team coach, 1996 she retired from coaching, but remained in the management of Spartak. Her daughter Natalia became a famous handball player, while her son Mikhail became a basketball professional.

Photo: Ukraine Handball Federation

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