For every Boginskaya and Shushunova out there winning World and Olympic medals, there was another talented gymnast toiling away the Soviet Union. With only 6 spots up for grabs each year, many excellent gymnasts never had a chance to display their skills on the world stage as a result of the extreme depth on the Soviet team in the 1980s. If given half a chance they, too, could have earned accolades and changed the history of the sport.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, many gymnasts who would have formerly been on the bubble were able to compete for their respective republics at the World Championships the following year. Interesting gymnasts such as Lyudmila Stovbchataya (UKR), the Yulia Yurkina (BLR) and Irina Yevdokimova (KAZ) were some of the 18 ex-Soviet female gymnasts competing in Birmingham.
Here are some of the top-notch performers who sadly never wore the Soviet flag at a World Championships or an Olympic Games:
1990 USA vs USSR, Balance Beam
The press handstand mount, the full-twisting back, the sideways backhandspring to Yurchenko loop, a full-in dismount, the flower leo and yarn…what more can a gym fan ask for?!
1989 Chunichi Cup, Floor Exercise
Don’t miss the double full-in first pass! She and Alexis Brion remain the only ladies to ever compete this skill.
1986 Chunichi Cup, Floor Exercise
Although the skill bears the name of Daniela Silivas (ROM) in the Code of Points, Priakhina was in fact the first gymnast to perform the double-double on floor.
1987 USSR Display, Uneven Bars
Check out how close together the bars are set!
1988 Chunichi Cup
1988 USSR vs CHN, UNeven Bars
1986 Kraft Invitational, Floor Exercise
My favourite floor routine of all time!
1990 Dutch Open, Floor Exercise
1990 Dutch Open, Uneven Bars
1985 Medico Cup, Floor Exercise
Barutyan, owner of a fantastic planche on beam, was rumoured to be training a double layout dismount of that apparatus!
Which other amazing gymnasts do you think could have won titles and been stars if given a chance to compete at a Worlds or Olympics?