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Gymnasts From The Same Era Who Don’t Try To Stop Bills That Protect Gymnasts From Sexual Abuse And Have Medals From Competitions That Weren’t Boycotted

US Mary Lou Retton sparked huge controversy when it was revealed that she had attempted to stop a sex abuse bill approved by the country...

US Mary Lou Retton sparked huge controversy when it was revealed that she had attempted to stop a sex abuse bill approved by the country's senate. The bill is aimed at protecting young athletes from getting sexually assaulted, .  

Retton received heavy backlash and was scolded on Twitter and she had to make her account private. On Wikipedia, gymnastics fans edited her page mentioning that her Olympic all around gold medal win was at a boycotted Olympics (1984) and that she tried to stop the bill. They were then blocked from editing her page.

Tumblr blogger illyria-and-her-pet wrote a post about gymnasts who could have won gold at the 1984 Olympics, had it not been boycotted by their countries (except Yanhong).

Olga Mostepanova performing one of the best beam routines of all time at the 1984 Alternate Games where she became the only gymnast to ever have a perfect 40 all around competition. At the Alternate Games, she won team, all around, vault, beam, and floor gold. She would have made that other gymnast irrelevant if the boycott didn’t happen. She has 5 world medals (3 gold, 2 silver).


While most gym fans acknowledge that Mostepanova and the Soviets would have swept the floor with that other gymnast, Hana Ricna gets very little recognition. She came in 2nd to Mostepanova at the 1984 Alternate Games and was the first to do the stalder tkatchev on uneven bars, which is still a very popular skill today. She had one of the most difficult uneven bars sets at the time because she did 3 major releases: her eponymous skill, “the Ricna” (E), the Deltchev (D), and the Comaneci (E). She has 2 world medals (1 silver, 1 bronze).

Ma Yanhong’s 1984 uneven bars gold is the only title from 1984 that I‘m 100% sure would have still happened even if there was no boycott. My favorite routine from her is that one she did at 1981 Worlds. She did a jump full turn to the low bar mount, clear hip 1/1, hecht ½, and her famous F rated dismount. Sadly, she was robbed here and only given a 9.9, so she came in 2nd to Maxi Gnauck who was given a perfect 10 despite having a less difficult routine and a hop on the dismount. She has 3 world medals (1 gold, 2 silver).

Maxi Gnauck is known for her uneven bar work, but she was also a great all arounder and floor worker. In 1979 and 1980, she was able to do a tucked full in and triple twist on the floor with no springs. At the 1984 Alternate Games, she came third in the all around and won bars and floor. Springs were added to the floor by then and she did the best piked full in and triple twist in that era. She has 9 world medals (5 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze). She also has 4 medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) from the 1980 Olympics, which were also boycotted, but the countries that boycotted wouldn’t have really made a difference in any of the results in that games except for maybe on uneven bars. 

Natalia Yurchenko’s vault entry is probably the most innovative skill to ever happen in gymnastics. For decades now, almost every top gymnast has done a yurchenko style vault. She won the team and all around gold at the 1983 World Championships, but suffered an injury in vault finals that took her out of the rest of the championships. She came back from the injury to win the team and vault gold, as well as the uneven bars silver at the 1984 Alternate Games. She also made the 1985 Soviet team that won gold at Worlds. Other notable skills she did were her tkatchev + deltchev combination on uneven bars and loso mount and yurchenko loop on beam. 

Tumblr only allows you to embed 5 videos, but special shout outs to baby Elena Shushunova who won the all around bronze at the 1984 Alternate Games and then went on to have one of the greatest careers ever in 1985-1988 and Julianne Mcnamara, the American gymnast that actually has a medal from a non boycotted competition with her 1981 uneven bars bronze. 

And of course shout out to Ecaterina Szabo who won 4 gold medals and actually beat that other gymnast in the all around final in 1984. Sadly, there was no new life and she fell on uneven bars in the team optionals, so the score carried over and she lost by 0.05. She has 10 world medals (2 gold, 6 silver, 2 bronze). 

By Gigi Farid

1 comment

  1. I have thought this since it happened in 1984. Suddenly MLR was EVERYWHERE and I really felt she would never have won anything if the Russians had been present. They were the ones to beat, they were the BEST. If you're not competing against the best, you can't claim to be the best. That's just how it is. It's not her fault they boycotted, but still the win was a strange one because there's just no way she would have bested the Russians. Elena Shushunova was a beast and she would have whipped the US team to shreds. So many amazing gymnasts at that time they they just weren't Americans. We got better in later years but in 1984 and 1988 we still weren't there yet.