Leonid Arkayev - Russia
Leonid Arkayev cannot say exactly how many medals were won by the Soviet Union and Russia during his lengthy tenure, but he estimates over 400 were claimed in Olympic, World and European championships.
He also believes that approximately 150 of these medals were Gold.
Few gymnastics fans would question those numbers when one considers the respect and reverence cultivated by the Soviet Union dynasty.
Born June 3, 1940, in Moscow, Arkayev was primarily the men's coach for the Soviet team from 1972 until its dissolution in the early 1990s. He then assumed leadership of the entire Russian gymnastics program, which peaked in 1996 with the men's Olympic team title over China, the winner of the 1994 and 1995 World Championships.
Arkayev was a gymnast himself, but had never competed in a European, World or Olympic competition. Once during an interview, he was asked if he thought such a void helped him as a coach. "I think so," he said. "This circumstance motivated me to achieve with my gymnasts what was denied me as an athlete."
Arkayev was an imposing figure and had the ability to get the most out of athletes. In his book, "Gymnastics, How to Create Champions," Archayev described his coaching philosophy: "The coach must set a positive example to the gymnast, regarding the general attitude and devotion toward the training process and gymnastics. Such aspects as discipline, persistence, hard work and human values need to be constantly emphasized. The coach also needs to act as a mentor, explaining the value of doing gymnastics, the role of leading sportsmen in society, and the importance of success to the club, the region and the country..."
He also stated that the team victories were always his priorities, although good team results meant good chances for individual results as well.
Archayev could always be seen pacing the sidelines of major international gymnastics competitions with the demeanor and serious focus of a true competitor. He has commented: "If you don't love gymnastics, it's very hard to have success in the sport."
The Soviet Union, later Russia, and the gymnastics world as a whole have benefited from Leonid Arkayev's dedication to the training process. His results are evidence of that passion and commitment, and make his legendary career worthy of recognition by the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
1972-2004 – National Coach, Soviet Union/Russia
1993-2004 – President, Russian Gymnastics Federation
2012 – Induction into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame