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Updated: 2006-08-25 16:29

At the 1952 Summer Games in Helsinki, Finland, the Soviet Union fielded its first Olympic team, earning medals in nine different sports. Of all the disciplines in which U.S.S.R. athletes competed, however, the one they dominated most completely was gymnastics.

The Soviet Union won both the men's and women's team competitions, in addition to seven individual events. The women's team would go on to win every Olympics in which it competed for the next forty years.

In long distance running, Czechoslovakian runner Emil Zatopek won a historic hat trick of gold medals in the 5,000m, 10,000m, and the marathon. He remains the only runner in the history of the Games to win all three events at one Olympics. Fueled by its success in gymnastics, the Soviet Union gave the Americans a run for their money in the medal count barely losing 71-76.