Born in 1938 in the Ukraine, Valentin Mankin raced full-time for the Soviet Union from 1955 until 1988. During that time, Mankin came as close as anyone ever has to equaling Paul Elvstrom's record of four sailing gold medals. Mankin won a gold medal in the Finn class in 1968 and a gold in the Tempest in 1972; he also won a silver in 1976, despite losing his regular crew to injury shortly before the regatta.In that event, he topped bronze medalist Dennis Conner. Mankin came back to Olympic competition in the Star class and won his third gold medal in 1980. His record could've been even finer; he qualified for the Olympics in the Finn class in 1960 and 1964, but under the Soviet system he was passed over for sailors with more seniority. Mankin emigrated to Italy in 1988, where he remains active in the sport as an Olympic-class coach.