Toomas Tõniste is a retired sailor and a politician from Estonia. Born in Tallin in 1967, he competed in four consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1988. He won a silver and a bronze medal in the men's 470 class: silver for the Soviet Union, in 1988, and bronze for Estonia, in 1992. He did so in tandem with his twin brother Tõnu Tõniste. Today he is a member of the Estonian Parliament.
- The 1980 Olympics in Moscow
- The Olympics of 1980 were the first to be organized in the USSR, but to protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, many western countries boycotted the competition.
- Envelope commemorating the Toniste brothers’ silver medal at the 1988 Olympics
- This envelope was issued for the Olympics in Barcelona, in 1992, the first Olympics in which Estonian athletes competed under their national flag, after the collapse of the USSR. The image commemorates Estonia’s victory in 1988, when the Toniste brothers won a silver medal as part of the Soviet team.
The Tooniste brothers in front of the car they got as a gift for their victories. Athletes on the national team had special status in the USSR. In addition to getting a daily stipend, they would receive food coupons and free passes to national buildings. When Toomas and his brother came back from Seoul after winning their silver medal they were feted as national 'heroes' and received special gifts like this brand new red Zhiguli.
Toomas and Tõnu Tõniste at the beginning of their sailing career. Toomas and his brother started sailing when they were 9 years old. According to Toomas, in the Soviet era, "When you thought about your future, it had to be sports. Since sports in general was a very honest field, the state would direct huge sums of money there."
Toomas Toniste during his military service. At the time, military service was mandatory, and Toomas spent two years in the Soviet Army’s special company for athletes, in Moscow (CSK) and in Tallin.
Toomas and Tõnu Tõniste on the cover of a popular youth magazine. Toomas and Tõnu Tõniste became quite famous at a very young age. In 1983, they first became Soviet junior champions, and they went on to win the title three times in a row. With the Olympics Games of 1988 approaching, their pictures started to appear on the covers of Estonian and Russian popular newspapers.
Toomas's Master of Sport certificate. Master of Sport was a criterion in the Soviet Time. The highest honour for a soviet athlete was to receive the International Master of Sports certificate, awarded to athlets showing very good results in the international arena.
Welcoming ceremony at the Taillin airport in Estonia. When Toomas and his brother arrived at the airport after winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games, they found a huge crowd waiting for them. Several Russian civil servants attended the ceremony because “we had saved the honour of the Soviet sailing crew." There were also many Estonians holding banners saying: “To Barcelona under the Estonian national flag!“