Irina Press
Irina Press 1964b.jpg
Irina Press at the 1964 Olympics
Personal information
Born10 March 1939
Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died21 February 2004 (aged 64)
Moscow, Russia
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight75 kg (165 lb)
SportPentathlon, sprint running, shot put
ClubDynamo St. Petersburg
Dynamo Moscow

Irina Natanovna Press[nb 1] (10 March 1939 – 21 February 2004) was a multitalented Soviet athlete who competed at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. In 1960, she won a gold medal in the 80 m hurdles and finished fourth in the 4 × 100 m relay. In 1964, she finished fourth in the hurdles and sixth in the shot put, but won gold in the newly introduced pentathlon event.[1][2][3]

Together with her elder sister, Tamara, Irina set 26 world records between 1959 and 1966.[4] In 1967 she won her last USSR Championship. Both Press sisters ended their careers abruptly when gender verification was introduced.[5][6] Some have suggested that the Press sisters were male or intersex. Another allegation was that they were being injected with male hormones by the Soviet government in order to make them stronger.[7][8] In wartime Soviet evacuation lists from 1942 Irina Press, then aged 3, is identified as girl.[9]

After retiring from competitions Press earned a degree in physical education and coached at her club Dynamo Moscow. She also took posts in the Soviet sports administration, such as department head of the Soviet and later Russian State Committee on Physical Culture, Sports and Tourism. From 2000 and until her death in 2004, she headed the Moscow Committee of Physical Culture and Sports.[1][10]


  1. ^ Russian: Ирина Натановна Пресс, Ukrainian: Ірина Натанівна Пресс, Iryna Natanivna Press


  1. ^ a b Irina Press Archived 19 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Irina Press (Soviet athlete)". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. ^ "Irina Press". Telegraph. 31 May 2004.
  4. ^ Tamara PRESS – U.S.S.R. – 1960 and 1964 Olympic Shot Put champion. Sporting Heroes
  5. ^ "Gender testing in sport". Reuters. 20 December 2006.
  6. ^ Wallechinsky, David (2012). The Book of Olympic Lists. p. 20. ISBN 978-1845137731.
  7. ^ "Switch hitter: If a man has a sex change can he compete in the Olympics as a woman?"; 22 August 2008
  8. ^ "Irina Press Bio, Stats, and Results | Olympics at". 17 April 2020. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  9. ^ Ira Press in evacuation lists (1942).
  10. ^ "Irina Press | Soviet athlete | Britannica".