The Soviet Union and Russia have a history of gymnastics greatness, but it’s clear that history began with Viktor Chukarin. As the first of the Soviet gymnastics greats, he won a total of eleven medals including seven golds. These include four gold medals and two silver medals in the 1952 Olympics. In 1956 he added three more gold medals, as well as silver and bronze.
He was also the all-around Soviet champion for five of the seven years between 1949 and 1955. He, along with Larisa Latynina, was the first athlete to receive the Order of Lenin, coming in 1957. Many other gymnasts learned from him, and he even has a street named after him in Lviv.
With a total of eleven medals between 1960 and 1968, Čáslavská is one of the most celebrated gymnasts in both Czechoslovakian history and in the Olympics. Her big break was in 1964, when she won the gold in the individual all-around competition, vault, and balance beam, and helped win silver for her overall team event. Her time on the floor is mired in controversy, however.
She was outspoken against Soviet-style communism during the 1968 Olympics, and it almost certainly cost her points from the Russian judges. It's very possible that she could have won both an additional gold medal, and not tied with the Soviet Larisa Petrk during the 1968 Olympics.
As a gymnast for the Soviet Republic, Boris Shakhlin was one of the best. He won gold in the team competition and individual pommel horse in 1956, and in the 1960 Olympics, he won a total of seven gold medals, including the all-around, pommel horse, vault, and parallel bars.
He picked up a silver for the team competition and a bronze medal for the horizontal bar. 1964 saw additional success, with Shakhlin winning gold in the horizontal bar, silver in the team competition and the all-around, and bronze in the rings. Until 1980, he held the record for the most Olympic medals won by a single athlete.
He might have only been in two Olympics, but those two still netted Alexei Nemov, a gymnast for Russia, a total of twelve medals. He racked up an impressive four golds, two each year, as well as two silvers and six bronze medals. He's one of the most celebrated gymnasts of all time, and if you were watching the games during those years, you undoubtedly heard his name.
He retired in 2004 after serving as an anchor for the Russian team. His score in the high bar competition resulted in controversy, eventually forcing the reconstruction of the gymnastics scoring system, which encourages higher difficulty.
Kristin Otto competed as a swimmer for East Germany in only one Olympics – 1988, in Seoul. Yet during that time, she won a total of six gold medals and was the dominant force on her team. She put up big numbers (or small, technically, since it's based on time) in the fifty-meter and 100-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly, 100-meter backstroke, and both the 400-meter freestyle and the 400-meter medley relay competitions.
She's the first woman to win six gold medals in a single Olympic game. She might have gone on to do more, but she retired from competing in 1989. Instead, she works as a sports reporter for German television.