Monday, 10 November 2008

Remember The Name

The history books are full of names that we all remember; Nadia Comaneci, Olga Korbut, Svetlana Boginskaya. But what about the other amazing gymnasts that are less well remembered? Let's take a look at a few, see how many you remember..

Elivira Saadi completed for the Soviet Union between the years of 1967 and 1976, earning two Olympic and four world medals. In 1973, she was the top soviet, winning the balance beam, floor exercise and all around title at national championships. She was beautifully graceful, elegant and danced like a woman instead of a pixie. Her more old fashioned gymnastics and taller, less child-like looks, meant that she lacked the wow factor for the judges. Take a look at her floor routine, look for the turns in attitude that we were all so impressed by this Olympics:

Rodica Dunca was a Romanian gymnast. She was a member of the 1979 world team that lead Romania to their first victory over the soviets. In 1980 she earned the all around title at Champions All. She was also a member of the 1980 Olympic team and placed 7th all around. In 1981, she earned a bronze medal on balance beam at Europeans before retiring in 1982. Here's her balance beam, the apparatus she was best known for. She has a traditional Romanian style, with beautiful long legs. Look for the impressive back sumi to scale:

Simona Pauca placed third behind Mary Lou Retton and Ecaterina Szabo at the 1984 Olympic games. Another Romanian, she also earned a gold with the team and on balance beam. After the Olympics, she disappeared from the world stage. Supposedly a fight occurred between her parents and the coaches and she was forced to move back to her home club. She kept training until 1986 when she retired. Here's her beam:

Olga Mostepanova never made it to the Olympics, because of the 1984 Soviet Boycott. However, at the friendship games, she almost completed a clean sweep, winning the team, all around, floor, vault and balance beam. During the competition she was given twelve perfect tens. In her time she also won five world medals. Here's her floor exercise, for some reason she reminds me of Lili Pod:

It strikes me that East Germany created many amazing, yet little remembered gymnasts. One example is Dagmar Kersten, who won a gold on uneven bars at the 1985 world championships, as well as a bronze at the 1988 Olympic games. She added this to her haul of 2 Olympic and 5 world medals. Here's her bars. I love the dismount.

Silvia Mitova was a Bulgarian gymnast. She competed at the 1992 Olympics and probably would have been a bigger deal if she'd been a Soviet. Such a shame about the fall in event finals or i believe she could have medaled, she certainly deserved to. Here's her floor exercise, just look at the first pass!

So, who do you think from the current scene could fade into the background? I always seem to forget about Chellsie Memmel...


Anonymous said...

"Her more old fashioned gymnastics and taller, less child-like looks, meant that she lacked the wow factor for the judges. "
I disagree with your comment above regarding Saadi. The pixie phenomenon was just warming up while she was competing. I don't think the judges had developed a preference for pixies yet.

Also, it wasn't their looks that brought the scores as far as pixies were concerned. Gymnasts like Olga and Nadia had some space-age skills for their day. Nadia's Comaneci release move is still an E.

Emily said...

I agree that Olga and Nadia were superior gymnasts, but Saadi is also worth recognizing. Being the best gymnast in the Soviet Union is definitely worth something, we all rave on about how amazing the Soviets were.
I don't believe that she was disfavored so much by the judges, she just lacked the wow factor brought by Nadia and Olga with their new skills and more childish dancing. They were something new and different and that was more impressive. Her style was definitely more Caslavska’s (who is recognized as a great gymnast) style than Olga’s
This post isn't about discrediting those obviously amazing gymnasts, just remembering some that are definitely worth looking at.