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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 29th of July 1996 was the date for many of the gymnastics finals at the Atlanta Olympics.
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.
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.
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.
The British women’s gymnastics team at the 1948 London Olympics. This is a few decades before the Soviet and Romanian gymnasts popularised young girls competing at Olympic level (a change that is being reversed again now, helped along by raised age requirements).
The Danish gymnastics team at the London Olympics in 1908.
There’s not much information about what actually happened in the gymnastics competition at the 1908 Olympics, but one thing is for certain: the women were not actually competing. This was a demonstration piece, which I suppose for the times was quite a big step for women in sport.
Despite the way it is commonly reported, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci was not the first gymnast to earn a perfect score of ten. She was, however, the first to do so at the Olympic Games, and there’s no denying her incredible influence on gymnastics.
On the 18th of July, 1976, Comăneci was yet to have her fifteenth birthday when she earned that perfect score on the uneven bars. She’d go on to finish her first Olympics with three gold and one silver medal. Some of the skills she was famous for are still performed.
Here is that historic performance. It is the compulsory routine, so not the routine with all her big skills, but you can see her clean technique.