The List: The Contenders

4 min read

As we continue the arduous task of marching to Rio, let’s take a look back at the great gymnasts who impacted their quads. I want to highlight gymnasts who, perhaps surprisingly, did not become champions or medalists, but were still the movers and shakers in gym history.


The List: 7 Non-World Champions (Individually)

Here is a list of gymnasts who have achieved great success, but were never known as individual world champions.


Steffi Kraker GER

A two time World Cup champion on uneven bars, Steffi won six bronze medals throughout her world championship career, in addition to four Olympic medals. A consistent performer, she was most noted for her strong vaults. This montage from MostepanovaFan shows Steffi’s career and efficiency on all the events.



Maria Filatova USSR

Maria was a sparkplug for the Soviet Union in the late 70s and into the early 80s, culminating in a silver medal in the AA at the World Championships in 1981. Originally the team alternate, Maria was put in the lineup at the 1976 Olympics after the coaches saw how much the crowd responded to her routines. She won two world team titles, and she also regularly appeared in the event finals. Check out a young Maria at the 1976 Olympics, and you’ll see why her energy, charm and confidence made her a favorite of the following quad.



Lavinia Agache ROM

A member of the gold medal team at the 1984 Olympics, Lavinia was a crucial member for the Romanian team for that quad. The winner of four world medals and four European championship medals, Lavinia was a beautiful performer who helped maintain the tradition and legacy of Romanian gymnastics in the post-Nadia era. Here is a video of Lavinia’s power and agility, while on her way to winning silver on vault at the 1983 Worlds.



Diana Dudeva BUL

A standout of the Bulgarian program, Diana steadily established herself with steady performances at the World Championships, regularly qualifying for the AA and event finals.

Even though she was unable to break into the medals at worlds, her consistency and well- choreographed routines finally paid off at the 1988 Olympics, where she won a bronze on floor.

Here is her difficult routine from the 1987 Worlds, where she finished 9th for this routine.



Tatiana Lysenko USSR|UKR

A brilliant and daring performer, Tatiana is a favorite for many from the early 1990s. Winner of two golds (team and beam) and one bronze (vault) at the 1992 Olympics, Tatiana certainly had the goods. She won two individual bronze medals at the worlds, but was perhaps caught up in circumstances beyond her control—initially competing with a very talented team, then competing for a new gymnastics system after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Here is

AureliaDobreFan’s montage of this elegant and powerful gymnast, including my favorite—her ro-loso-loso-loso beam mount.



Dominique Dawes USA

One of the most successful and prolific gymnasts from the US, Dominique rose up from the baby of the 1992 Olympic team to the winner of fifteen US titles, as well as four Olympics medals over three Olympiads. A star at the World Championships, her performances were often remembered for the mistakes that cost her a chance for a world title. Eventually, she retired with four world medals (three silver, one bronze). With great power and risk, here is Dawes performing on beam at her second Olympics .



Yelena Produnova RUS

An exciting performer on floor and queen of forward tumbling skills, Yelena brought an exciting level of power and grit to Russian gymnastics in the late 90s. In spite of an injury, she won two medals at the 2000 Olympics. Her dazzling Produnova vault will always be remembered, as will her interesting front tumbling combinations and take-charge personality. She won a bronze medal in the AA at the 1997 World Championships and ultimately retired with four world medals. Just in case you haven’t seen the Produnova vault, here it is!



Article by: Kristen Ras

Photo Cover: source

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