February 28, 2017 / 12:23 AM / in 9 months

Former Soviet gymnast Korbut sells off Olympic medals

(Reuters) - Olga Korbut, the gymnastics darling of the 1972 Munich Olympics who has apparently fallen on hard times, has sold off her Games medals and other trophies through a U.S. auction house.

Former gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Olga Korbut throws out the first pitch before the start of a MLB interleague game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, Arizona, September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph D. Freso

Thirty-two lots, including two golds and a silver from the Munich Olympics, fetched $333,500 in a weekend online sale by Heritage Auctions for the former Soviet gymnast who now lives in Arizona, auction house spokesman Chris Ivy told Reuters on Monday.

The top item was her team gold medal, which brought $66,000 for the 61-year-old Korbut, a native Belarusian who moved to the United States in 1991.

Russia’s Gazeta.ru news reported that she has had financial difficulties. “Medals saved Korbut from hunger,” said the Gazeta.ru headline, the BBC reported.

At the age of 17, the 4-foot-11 (1.5 m) Korbut made a giant impression across the globe at the Munich Games with electrifying routines that brought her team, balance beam and floor exercise gold and a silver in the uneven bars.

Four years later Korbut, who triggered an explosion of interest in gymnastics, added another gold and a silver at the Montreal Olympics.

Sale items included one of her performance leotards, her 1972 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and various Soviet medals.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue

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