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Rhythmic gymnastics in a history of the Olympic Games

The history of rhythmic gymnastics in the Olympic Games has started in 1984. Even though the decision on the addition of rhythmic gymnastics to the Olympic Games program has been made in 1980 right after Olympic Games in Moscow.


The first winner of the Olympic Games in rhythmic gymnastics was Canadian gymnast Lori Fung in Los Angeles in 1984. Lori has got a gold medal as her main competitors, Soviet and Bulgarian gymnasts, were not participating in the games due to a boycott. It was their answer to the boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 when over 60 countries' teams didn't come to the games. Lori has planned to participate in the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 but she had to finish her sports career due to illness before that. After that Lori has been a coach of national teams in the USA, Canada, and Mexico at different years. Nowadays she is working as a trainer in British Columbia.


Lori Fung, 1984


The winner of the Olympic Games in Seoul has been Marina Lobatch, the only Soviet Union gymnast that has won Olympic Games. Marina was born and has grown up in Belarus in a family of a locksmith and a confectioner. Her first clubs were made by her father at a mounting tool. One week before Olympic Games Marina has injured her leg but she managed to participate in the competitions. She got maximum points in all 4 programs and won a gold medal surpassing her teammate Alexandra Timoshenko. Currently, Marina lives and works as a coach in Minsk.


Marina Lobatch, 1988


Alexandra Timoshenko has already tried to win Olympics in 1988 but got only a bronze medal then. However, she managed to win Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona under the flag of the United Team of former Soviet Union athletes. Alexandra was born and grown up in Ukraine and she has been representing Deriugina's rhythmic gymnastics school where also the current national team of Ukraine is trained. Alexandra has been injured during Soviet Union Championship in 1989 while competing on the next carpet with another athlete, who by accident hurt Alexandra's eye with the ribbon stick. Alexandra's eyelid has been cut and doctors were sure that Alexandra will not be able to continue competing. However, already next day Alexandra competed and won the championship. Currently, Alexandra lives in Austria and works as a lawyer.


Alexandra Timoshenko, 1992


The next Olympic champion in 1996 in Atlanta was Ukrainian gymnast Kateryna Serebrianska. She was born in professional athletes family and her mother was her coach. Watching the Olympic Games of 1992 Kateryna told that she will also win the games someday. She managed to do this in 1996. Only Russian athletes were winning the Olympics in rhythmic gymnastics after her up to the moment. Nowadays Kateryna is living in Ukraine. She is developing her business related to healthy lifestyle and nutrition as well as working at television.


Kateryna Serebrianska, 1996


The series of Russian gymnasts victories has started from Yulia Barsukova in 2000 in Sydney. Yulia is originally from Moscow and she started her sports career in figure skating when she was 4. Later she fell in love with rhythmic gymnastics and completely switched there. Yulia was always notable for her plastics and choreographic skills but Irina Viner-Usmanova, however, believed that Alina Kabaeva would be the winner of Olympics 2000 in rhythmic gymnastics. Alina made a huge mistake and lost her hoop at the Olympics but Yulia managed to win the gold medal. Today Yulia is the head of the rhythmic gymnastics department at the State College of Olympic Reserve in Moscow. As she finished her sports career, she tried to continue ice dancing.


Yulia Barsukova, 2000


Alina Kabaeva has got the bronze medal in Sydney but in four years she got her gold in Athens. Alina was born in Uzbekistan in a family of professional athletes. When she was 11 she moved to Moscow to continue with rhythmic gymnastics at a top-level. Alina joined Irina Viner-Usmanova's team under the condition that she will lose weight. Alina is a two-times world champion and six-times European champion in rhythmic gymnastics. At the moment she is actively engaged in political and public life and supports children's sports in Russia.


Alina Kabaeva, 2004


Evgeniya Kanaeva is the only rhythmic gymnast that has won Olympic games twice in an individual all-round. Three different athletes won the Olympics twice in group competitions. Evgeniya was born in Omsk and moved to Moscow when she was 12. Despite the high competition level in the Russian team, young Evgeniya managed to get her place in the team when she was 17. Already in one year she was the leader of the national team and won the Olympics. At that time she was the youngest competitor in the final of all-around. She won again in 2012 in London. After that, she finished her sports career, and currently, she is working as a coach.


Evgeniya Kanaeva, 2008


Margarita Mamun won Olympic Games in Rio-de-Janeiro in 2016. Margarita's mother is an ex-gymnast and her father was an engineer from Bangladesh. Due to her origin Margarita has got the nickname "Bengal Tigress".

Margarita's first victories in an adults' competition were in 2011 when she was 16. The main Margarita's competitor for many years was her friend and teammate Yana Kudryavtseva. Yana was considered as a leader for Olympic Games win in 2016 but she was only second. Margarita finished her sports career in 2017 and got a son in 2019.


Margarita Mamun, 2016


Spanish national team has got the first Olympic medals in rhythmic gymnastics group competitions in Atlanta in 1996. They had routines with 5 hoops and 3 balls and 2 ribbons. The team has got the nickname "Golden girls" (Las Niñas de Oro) after the victory.


"Golden girls" (Las Niñas de Oro), 1996


Beginning from 2000 only the Russian team won all group competitions in rhythmic gymnastics at Olympics. The first athlete who won the gold medal twice in this discipline was Natalia Lavrova. She won Olympics with her teams in 2000 and 2004. Another athlete who repeated Natalia's success was Elena Posevina in 2004 and 2008. And the third one is Anastasia Bliznyuk in 2012 and 2016.


Russian rhythmic gymnastics national team

(Anastasia Bliznyuk is second from right), 2016


This year Anastasia is going to represent Russia at Olympic Games in Tokyo for the third time and possibly she will be in history as the first three-time winner of the Olympic Games in group rhythmic gymnastics competitions.

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