Famous Siblings in Sport

Irina and Tamara Press

Tamara Press and her younger sister Irina Press are both retired Soviet athletes. Born to Jewish parents in Ukraine, the siblings studied at the University of Leningrad were they began displaying their athletic prowess. Tamara was excellent at shot put and discus throw, while Irina dominated sprint events. Irina Press participated mostly in hurdle and pentathlon events. Between 1959 and 1966, the sisters dominated the track world by setting 26 world records and won several medals for the Soviet Union.


Athletic sisters who are queens of the track world, Irina, (left), and Tamara Press, congratulate each other after both scored world record triumphs in the pre-Olympic tryouts at Moscow’s Lenin Central Stadium. Both Leningrad girls proved why they are Russia’s best hopes for Olympic Gold Medals, with Irina equaling the world mark for the 80-meter hurdles, and Tamara setting a shotput record of 17 meters, 42 centimeters, (57 feet, 1 1/4 inches, approximately).

At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, they became the first siblings to win gold medals in the same Olympiad. Irina won a gold medal in the 80 m hurdle final while Tamara won a silver medal in the discus and the gold in the shot. During their career as athletes, it was highly speculated that they were men playing as women because of their masculine physiques. Journalists often referred to the Press sisters as the “Press Brothers.” In 1966, the Press sisters retired from athletics shortly after gender verification was introduced.

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