1992: Ukrainian Champions in Barcelona

The 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona were held from late July to early August. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the year before, athletes from the former USSR competed under their own flags and national anthems in individual events, and for the Unified Team in group events.

Ukrainian rhythmic gymnasts Alexandra Timochenko and Oksana Skaldina came home with the gold and bronze medals. They are the two fair-haired first place-getters pictured below at the 1991 World Championships.

Alexandra Timochenko (Ukraine), Oksana Kostina and Oksana Oxana Skaldina (Ukraine) (URSS) 1991 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Champions

Under their own flag for the first time, Ukraine’s 1992 female artistic gymnasts also outshone their teammates, with the women winning a further two gold, a silver, and two bronze medals individually, as well as a share in the team gold with their Belarusian, Uzbek and Russian teammates.

Stamp_of_Ukraine_s23 Rhythmic Gymnastics Stamp of Ukraine 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

Ukrainian stamp from 1992, featuring Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics. X

Despite almost no funding and an ongoing war with Russia, Ukrainian gymnasts continue to win Olympic medals, most recently gold and silver in the men’s competition in 2016. Many gymnasts from the country have moved to compete for other nations in order to access proper training facilities. Following the 2016 Rio Games, the equipment used in the competition was donated to Ukraine’s gymnastics federation.

On this day: the birth of a British Olympian

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Walter Tysall X

British Olympic gymnast Walter Tysall was born in Birmingham on the 3rd of April, 1880.

At the age of twenty-eight Tysall competed in the individual all around competition at the 1908 London Olympic Games. He won the silver medal, with Italian Alberto Braglia winning gold and French gymnast Louis Ségura taking bronze.

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Italian gold medallist Alberto Braglia

Though the British women’s gymnasts would go on to reach the Olympic podium a few years later, Tysall’s silver was the only medal won by a British male gymnast until 2008.

Tysall died in Ashton-on-Ribble in 1955.

R.I.P. to Věra Čáslavská

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R.I.P. to Věra Čáslavská. Not just a legend in gymnastics, but also a national hero for publicly protesting against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. 3rd May 1942 – 30th August 2016. Seven-time Olympic Champion.

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The most successful woman in Olympic history.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. The most successful woman in Olympic history. Eighteen medals Eighteen events.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. After her father was killed in the Battle of Stalingrad she was raised by her illiterate mother.

Originally a ballet dancer, after switching to gymnastics she went on to compete at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.

Larisa_Latynina-croppedUkrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. The most successful woman in Olympic history. Eighteen medals Eighteen events.

Winning a medal in every event available to female gymnasts at all three Games, she became the most successful woman in Olympic history with eighteen medals, including nine gold.

She is one of only a handful of gymnasts who returned to the sport after having a child. At the time she kept her pregnancy a secret from coaches and Soviet officials.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. black and white

Until US swimmer Michael Phelps recently overtook her, she was also the most successful Olympic athlete of any gender.

On this day: Ukrainian and American Olympic Champions

The 29th of July 1996 was the date for many of the gymnastics finals at the Atlanta Olympics.

Lilia Podkopayeva floor exercise 1996 Atlanta Olympics Ukraine Ukrainian

Despite her country struggling to find funds in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian gymnast Lilia Podkopayeva qualified for both the balance beam and floor exercise finals.

Lilia Podkopayeva balance beam 1996 Atlanta Olympics Ukraine Ukrainian

Podkopayeva, aged seventeen, had won the prestigious individual all around gold four days earlier, won the silver medal on beam, and then finished her Olympics with a gold medal for her floor exercise.

millerpod Lilia Podkoayeva Ukraine Shannon Miller USA 1996 balance beam olympic games

Podkopayeva and Miller receive their beam medals.

Podkopayeva would win gold a few hours later.

US gymnast Shannon Miller, a nineteen-year-old national star who came home from the 1992 Olympics with five medals but no gold, won her first individual title on the balance beam.

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On this day: women’s Olympic gymnastics

The gold medal in the 1992 women’s Olympic gymnastics team competition was decided on the 28th of July in Barcelona. The event was won by the Unified Team, made up of countries of the former USSR.

Despite the common misconception all gymnasts on this team were from Russia, only one of the six competitors was.

From left to right are: Rozalia Galiyeva (Uzbekistan), Tatiana Gutsu (Ukraine), Tatiana Lysenko (Ukraine), Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan), Elena Grudneva (Russia), and Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus).

Rozalia Galiyeva (Uzbekistan) Tatiana Gutsu (Ukraine) Tatiana Lysenko (Ukraine) Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan) Elena Grudneva (Russia) Svetlana Boginskaya (Belarus) Unified Team Women's Gymnastics 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

Tatiana Gutsu would go on to win individual gold, silver and bronze.

Tatiana Gutsu Ukraine 1992 Olmypic gymnastics champion

 Tatiana Lysenko would win an individual gold and bronze.

Tatiana Lysenko Ukraine 1992 Olympic gymnastics champion

Oksana Chusovitina would go on to have a record-breaking career, competing all the way through to the London 2012 Olympics, and winning a silver medal in Beijing in 2008.

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