Seven-time Gold Medal Olympic Star, Vera Caslavska, Dies At 74

Vera Caslavska, one of the most decorated gymnasts and an anti-Soviet icon, has "died in her sleep" on Wednesday at the age of 74 after over a year-long fight with pancreatic cancer.

Věra Čáslavská at the European Championships | Courtesy of Kroon, Ron / Anefo

Věra Čáslavská at the European Championships in 1967 | Courtesy of Kroon, Ron / Anefo

Caslavska was hospitalized Monday at Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague after a regular checkup.

Besides the fact, that she was one of just a few women to win four golds in one Olympic Games, Caslavska was also known for her vocal criticism of the Soviet Union and her opposition to the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.

At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, she expressed her political stand by quietly looking down and away while the Soviet national anthem was playing during the medal ceremony. She was later forced into hiding by the regime after signing a document calling for political reforms in 1968.

Jiri Kejval, president of the Czech Olympic Committee, said that Caslavska was “a fighter” and “a woman of solid opinions.” She is survived by her two children – son, and daughter.