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Tatjana Barbakoff

Tatjana Barbakoff, a renowned ballet and Chinese style dancer, captivated audiences worldwide with her flamboyance, legendary beauty, and sharp sense of humor. Born in 1899 in Hasenpoth, Courland Governorate (now Latvia), she gained recognition for her solo performances and toured internationally. Despite facing tragedy and internment during World War II, Barbakoff’s remarkable career as a dancer continues to inspire young dancers today.

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Maria Skobtsova

Maria Skobtsova, also known as Mother Maria of Paris, was a Russian noblewoman, poet, nun, and member of the French Resistance during World War II. Her life was marked by spirituality, social activism, and a relentless pursuit of justice. Maria’s commitment to social justice led her to found a house of hospitality in Paris, which became a refuge for many during the challenging years leading up to World War II. She actively resisted the Nazi occupation, saving countless lives. Sadly, she was arrested and executed in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, but her life remains an example of love, compassion, and resistance against injustice.

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Uljana Semjonova

Uljana Larionovna Semjonova, born in 1952 in Daugavpils, Latvian SSR, Soviet Union, was a towering figure in women’s basketball. With an impressive height of at least 2.13 meters (7 feet 0 inches), she dominated the sport throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Semjonova’s exceptional skill and strength made her an intimidating force on the court, leading her team to numerous championships and securing two Olympic Gold medals for the USSR. Her outstanding contributions to the sport earned her prestigious honors, including induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame. Uljana Semjonova’s impact on women’s basketball is immeasurable, inspiring athletes around the world.

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Ludmilla Chiriaeff

Ludmilla Chiriaeff was a Latvian-Canadian ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher, and company director. She overcame the challenges of World War II and refugee status to become a prominent figure in the world of ballet. Her innovative choreographies and dedication to nurturing young talent have left a lasting impact on the development of ballet in Canada. Ludmilla’s contributions to women’s history in the arts are undeniable.

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Inese Jaunzeme

Inese Jaunzeme, born in 1932 in Latvia, was a prominent Latvian javelin thrower who made a significant impact on the sport. She rose through the ranks with dedication and hard work, becoming the Latvian champion in 1952. Her breakthrough came in 1956 when she set a new Olympic record and became the first Latvian Olympic champion. Beyond her athletic success, Jaunzeme pursued a career in medicine and continued to contribute to the Olympic community until her passing in 2011. Her legacy as a barrier-breaking athlete and inspiration to aspiring athletes, especially women, lives on.

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