(Almost) Greatest Female Gymnasts in History
The most coveted title in artistic gymnastics is the World or Olympic all-around championship title. Though the following extraordinary athletes, as the term ‘almost’ suggests, failed to win such a title, they are still widely regarded to be some of the greatest female gymnasts in history. Hope you like the videos of some of their memorable routines.
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Olga Korbut (USSR/Belarus)
At the 1972 Olympics, Olga Korbut enthralled the international audiences through her innovative acrobatics and emotional openness, countering the world’s impression of eastern bloc athlete as stoic and unapproachable. She was considered to be one of the favorites to win the all-around due to her exceptional performance in the team competition, but missed her mount on bars three times, dropping her out of medal contention. Nevertheless, she went home with three golds (team, floor and beam) and a silver (bars), smiling and dancing her way into the hearts of the world. All the media frenzy that accompanied her Olympic debut brought about a tremendous increase of young girls joining the once unpopular sport of gymnastics.
Mo Huilan (China)
Mo Huilan (b. 1979) first gained public attention at the 1994 Worlds, where she finished seventh in the all-around final. Though her preliminary scores at the 1995 Worlds qualified her for the all-around in first place, a fall from beam dropped her to sixth place in the all around final. She would return to win the beam title with a flawless routine and a silver on bars tied with all around champion Lilia Podkopayeva. The 1996 Olympics also proved disappointing for Little Mo; she was ranked first going into the last rotation, the floor exercise, but stepped out of bounds and slipped to fifth place. She left the Games with only a silver medal on vault. Known for her exceptionally difficult routines but also for inconsistency, her bags of tricks include a double twisting Yurchenko on vault, Gaylord (Mo) salto and double layout dismount on bars, blind double stag leaps on beam, and double layout mount on floor.
Daniela Silivaş (Romania)
Known for her flawless execution and form, high difficulty and expressive dance, Daniela Silivaş (b. 1972) earned her very first major title (balance beam) at the 1985 World Championships at the tender age of 13. Her triumph at the 1987 European Championships (4 golds including the all-around and a silver) quickly established her as one of the favorites to win the World title. However, at the 1987 Worlds, she only managed a bronze in the all-around competition due to mistakes on bars and beam, but redeemed herself by winning golds on bars and floor event finals. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Silivaş missed the all-around title by only 0.025 points but came back in the event finals to win gold medals on bars, beam and floor, as well as a bronze on vault; she tied Nadia Comăneci’s record of seven perfect 10s received in a single Olympics. Despite being plagued by a serious knee injury and missing once more the all-around title at the 1989 Worlds after falling from the beam, she returned in event finals to capture gold medals on the bars, beam and floor.
Dominique Dawes (United States)
Dominique Dawes (b. 1976), a three-time Olympian who was a member of the Magnificent 7 that won the team gold at the 1996 Olympics, is the first African American female along with teammate Betty Okino to win an Olympic gymnastics medal at the 1992 Olympics (team bronze). Awesome Dawesome came close to winning at least a world or Olympic all-around title three times. At the 1993 Worlds, she was ranked first after the third rotation, however, in her last event, she made the first vault but fell on the second attempting to do the trickier 1-½ twisting layout Yurchenko instead of a full-twisting one; and dropped to fourth place overall. The same thing happened at the 1994 Worlds and she slipped to fifth. She lost another opportunity to win the all-around at the 1996 Olympics, where she was leading after two rotations but sat down on her middle tumbling pass and finished seventeenth. In spite of these disappointments, she earned a few World and Olympic individual medals: silvers on bars and beam (1993 Worlds), bronzes on beam (1996 Worlds) and floor exercise (1996 Olympics).
Lavinia Miloşovici (Romania)
The last gymnast to ever receive the perfect score of 10 in an Olympic competition, Lavinia Miloşovici (b. 1976), also known as “Milo”, was one of the most successful gymnasts Romania has ever produced. She earned a total of 14 individual World and Olympic Medals (including 2 Olympic bronzes and a World silver in the all-around), medalling in every single World Championships, Olympic Games and European Championships between 1991 and 1996. She captured at least one World or Olympic title on all four events, only the third female gymnast to achieve the feat after Larissa Latynina and Věra Čáslavská.
More articles on Greatest Athletes series:
- (Almost) Greatest Female Gymnasts in History
- 10 Greatest Male Gymnasts in History
- 10 Greatest Female Gymnasts in History
- Greatest American Female Gymnasts
- Greatest American Male Gymnasts
- 10 Greatest Female Figure Skaters of All Time
- 10 Greatest Male Figure Skaters of All Time
Articles on the Olympics:
- Unforgettable Summer Olympic Stories
- More Unforgettable Summer Olympic Stories
- Unforgettable Winter Olympic Stories
- More Unforgettable Winter Olympic Stories
- Unforgettable Moments of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
- Unforgettable Moments of The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics
- Michael Phelps: The Greatest Olympian of All Time
Golden Olympic Performances: