Olga Mostepanova (USSR) – January 3rd, 1970.
Olga Mostepanova was one of the most successful gymnasts at the 1983 World Championships, placing second in the all-around behind teammate Natalia Yurchenko and claiming gold on beam and silver on floor. Expectations were high going into the 1984 Olympics, but due to the USSR 1984 Olympic boycott, Mostepanova was only able to perform at the Friendship Games (Alternate Olympics). She won the all-around, scoring 10s in all four apparatus: the only gymnast in history to achieve such a feat. She was at her peak in 1984; how many medals would she have taken had she been at the Olympics in Los Angeles?
In 1985 she was selected for the World Team and did well enough in qualifications to advance to the all-around final. However head USSR coach Andrei Rodionenko gave her spot to a young Yelena Shushunova who went on to win gold in the all-around final. Interviewed many years later Mostepanova stated she did not harbour hard-feelings for the replacement, as she was aware that favourable circumstances had led to her qualification and that Shushunova had a better shot at a medal because of better optional exercises.
Mostepanova retired after the 1985 World Championships due to back pain and other nagging injuries. She is now married and the mother of five children. Her birthdate was of some debate and she was listed as being born in both 1968 and 1969. In later years Mosetepanova herself stated she was born in 1970, making her below the required age for the 1983 World Championships.
Mostepanova introduced a new move on beam, a back handspring with a half turn. For reasons unknown it was not submitted by the Soviet coaches, and therefore was never named after her. A few years later Hungarian gymnast Henrietta Onodi submitted the move, and it has become one of the most popular moves on the beam today.
Olga Mostepanova – Beam – Alternate Olympics (1984). At 00:14 we see the Mostepanova/Onodi move.
Photo: By Tony Duffy for Getty Images.
Article: Isabel Zamora
Editor: Maree Jones
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