From 1964 to 1968, Czechoslovakia's Vera Caslavska was indomitable. In those four years she captured two Olympic all-around titles, earned the World all-around title, and twice swept every event at the European Championships. Cavlaska's second Europeans sweep took place in Amsterdam, which first hosted the competition in 1967. She remains the only Czech gymnast, male or female, to win the European all-around title.
Born May 3, 1942, in Prague, Caslavska first competed at Europeans in 1959 in Krakow. There, she made a mistake on uneven bars (8.233) and placed only eighth all-around. In the event finals, however, Caslavska won the gold medal on balance beam and the silver medal on vault.
At the 1961 Europeans in Leipzig, Caslavska tied for the all-around bronze medal. She won only one individual event medal (a bronze on floor exercise); she finished fifth on uneven bars, sixth on vault and seventh on balance beam.
Caslavska and other gymnasts from the Soviet bloc did not compete at the 1963 Europeans in Paris. She dominated the 1965 Europeans in Sofia, as well as the 1967 Europeans in Amsterdam. In each competition, Caslavska placed first all-around and first on each of the four individual events.
In addition to her European victories, Caslavska competed in three Olympic Games and three World Championships.
Caslavska finished eighth all-around at both the 1958 Worlds in Moscow, and the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
At the 1962 Worlds held in Caslavska's hometown of Prague, she placed second all-around, first on vault, third on floor exercise, fifth on uneven bars and fifth on balance beam.
Caslavska won the all-around gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In the event finals, she won two more gold medals (vault, balance beam). She also placed fifth on uneven bars and sixth on floor exercise.
At the 1966 Worlds in Dortmund, Caslavska led the Czechoslovakian team to an upset victory over the Soviets. She also placed first in the all-around and on vault, second on balance beam and floor exercise, and fourth on uneven bars.
Caslavska retired from competition following the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where she won gold medals in the all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise (tie). She also won silver medals on balance beam and with her team.
In 1998, Caslavska was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Throughout her competitive career, Vera Caslavska was regularly featured in International Gymnast (then known as Modern Gymnast and then Gymnast) magazine. Recent issues featuring Caslavska include:
August/September 1998: International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction
August 1989: "Caslavska 20 Years Later" - profile