Born in Leningrad in 1938, Lyudmila Buldakova was a force to contend with during her time on the Soviet Women’s National Team and as an Olympian. During a career that spanned two decades, Buldakova made a name for herself as both a spiker and a setter.
Buldakova was listed as one of the strongest Soviet players from 1959 to 1962 and again from 1964 to 1972. She was honored with the prestigious USSR Honorable Master of Sport in 1960.
During Buldakova’s reign as a women’s volleyball powerhouse, Japan held the title of world’s best volleyball team. At the sport’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, the Soviet Union placed second behind Japan, but then, with Buldakova as team captain, went on to win consecutive Olympic Games gold in 1968 at Mexico City and 1972 at Munich.
Buldakova led her team to gold at the FIVB Volleyball World Championships in 1956, 1960 and 1970, and the silver medal in 1962. The team also earned gold at the European Championships in 1958, 1967 and 1971. In addition Buldakova’s teams won seven USSR Championships (1960, 1962, 1967, and 1970-1973) and eight European Champions Cups (1961, 1965, 1968-1972, and 1974).
After her retirement in 1975, Buldakova was involved in volleyball as a youth volleyball coach and made contributions in the publishing world in 1979 by writing the book “Six in Defense –Six in Attack.”
For her influence on the sport, Buldakova was awarded with two of the prestigious Orders of the Red Banner of Labor awards, The Order “Sign of Honor” and the Medal “For Labor Merit.”
Although she passed away in 2006, Lyudmila Buldakova remains an icon of Russian volleyball. In 2007, the Volleyball Federation of Russia established an award in Buldakova’s name for the Best Female Volleyball Player of the Russian Championship.
And so, we welcome Lyudmila Buldakova as a 2012 Inductee to the Volleyball Hall of Fame.