Born in Ukraine to a Jewish family, Faina Melnik took up athletics in 1969, when she was nearly 25-years-old, but coached by Kim Bukhantsov, she quickly rose to be one of the world’s top female discus throwers in the early 1970s. The apex of Melnik’s career was winning gold at the 1972 Olympics. Dominating the women’s discus throwing scene for the next four years, Melnik also competed at the 1976 Olympics but finished a disappointing fourth. She was the 1971 and 1974 European Champion, and won gold at the 1973 Universiade, 1977 World Cup, and 1973, 1975, and 1977 European Cup. Between 1971-76, Melnik set 11 discus world records. She won 10 Soviet discus titles – in 1970, 1972-77, and 1980-81. Melnik graduated from the Moskva Medical Stomatological Institute (now Moskva State University of Medicine and Dentistry), later worked as a dentist in Moskva, and also worked as an athletics coach. Her most famous pupils were the 1988 shot put Olympic champion Nataliya Lisovskaya and the 1992 shot put Olympic champion Svetlana Krivelyova.
Personal Bests: SP – 20.03 (1976); DT – 70.50 (1976).