Ever wondered what the world’s most famous female gymnasts look like today? Gymnastics is by far one of the most demanding sports in the world. Take a look at these “then and now” photos of some of the most important women in the history of gymnastics.
Mary Lou Retton
Representing the United States, Mary Lou Retton became the first female gymnast outside of Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around gold medal. This took place in 1984, which was also the most important year of her entire career.
During this time, Retton also won five medals and became a nationally popular sports figure. Thanks to her great success, Retton remained a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Alicia Sacramone is a U.S. gymnast who earned quite a controversial reputation after the 2008 Olympic Games. Sacramone was one of the favorites going into the competition but things didn’t really go her way.
During the team competition in 2008, Sacramone fell in two events and stopped the team from winning the gold medal. She carried the blame for these failings for quite a long time. Today, she’s married to the NFL quarterback Brady Quinn.
Lavinia Milosovici lived her five minutes of fame during the 1992 individual event finals when she got a perfect 10 score, which doesn’t happen very often during the Olympic games.
This Romanian gymnast won medals in every World Championship between 1991 and 1996 and thus became the third female gymnast to win one World Championship title in all four competition events.
Shawn Johnson was one of the best US gymnasts and the face of Team USA in 2008, right next to Nastia Liukin. She led the team to a silver medal in the all-around and on the floor as well.
Not only was Johnson an important part of the US Olympics team but she also served as an inspiration to many young athletes and women across the United States and the entire world.
Aliya Mustafina is one of the most popular Russian gymnasts who made a spectacular comeback in the 2012 Olympics. She scored a total of four medals this year, which ranked her as one of the best female gymnasts in the world.
Besides one silver medal she secured for the Russian team, Mustafina tied with a US representative Aly Raisman. She ended up winning the bronze medal because of a tie-break rule. She was also the winner of the 2010 World Championship and, unfortunately, she suffered a tough injury during the 2011 European Championship.
Mo Huilan was one of the most successful female gymnasts during the 1990s. She represented China in the 1996 Olympics where she finished in fifth place. Although she didn’t score a medal, her performance was quite impressive.
This Chinese gymnast was known for her challenging routines. She went out of her way to combine difficult moves and this often led to falls that stopped her from winning medals and titles.
Nastia Liukin is a member of the American gymnastics team who won a total of five medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Her medals included gold in all-around, three silvers, and a bronze for the floor.
Nastia still remains known for her unique balletic style and the amazing performances on bars. After a couple of tragic falls during the U.S. Olympic Trials, Nastia had to bring her gymnastics career to an end.
It’s safe to say that Shannon Miller became one of the best gymnasts in U.S. history after her early ‘90s performances. During this time, Miller won seven Olympic medals and nine World Championship ones.
The 1992 Olympic Games event featured some of her best performances where she won the most medals of all American athletes at the time. Unfortunately, she lost the all-around gold to Tatiana Gutsu by only 0.012, which remains a very controversial result even until this day.
Lilia Podkopayeva is a Ukrainian gymnast known for being one of the only performers who had no major weaknesses at any event or category. This level of skillfulness and preparedness scored her multiple all-around titles throughout her career.
Interestingly, Lilia became the first female gymnast to take over Ludmila Tourischeva’s record by winning European, World, and Olympic all-around titles at the same time. She achieved all of this between 1995 and 1996, which ranked her at the top of the list as one of the best gymnasts of all time.
The Romanian gymnast Daniela Silivas was one of the best athletes who participated in the 1988 Olympic Games. Daniela surprised the world with incredible performances and she ended up winning medals in every single event.
She won a bronze on vault and gold on bars, beam, and floor. However, she lost the all-around gold to Yelena Shushunova by only 0.025 points. Still, Silivas remains one of the most successful Romanian gymnasts of all time!
Yelena Shushunova is another successful female gymnast from the Soviet Union. She is the winner of four Olympic medals, including the all-around gold she won during the 1988 Olympics.
Many sources still praise Yelena Shushunova for her amazing technique and powerful vaulting, as well as her persistency at choosing very difficult and challenging moves. After all, she has won medals in every category in major competitions.
Gabby Douglas is another American gymnast who made history after winning both the individual and the team all-around gold medal at the same event. This took place at the 2012 Olympics in London. At the same time, she became the first African-American athlete to win the all-around category.
Although Douglas ended her career quite recently, it’s always great to look back on the achievements of such successful American athletes. She also became the face of Kellogg’s cereal and an inspiration for millions of female athletes around the world.
Ludmilla Tourischeva is a gymnast from the Soviet Union who won the all-around gold at the 1972 Olympics. She was one of the best female gymnasts from this region and a true example of a classy and elegant style.
Sadly, Tourischeva was overshadowed by Olga Korbut during the 1972 Olympics but her achievements still didn’t go unnoticed. She ended up winning the all-around bronze in 1976 after displaying great style and technique.
Nellie Kim represented the Soviet Union in many gymnastics competitions between the 1970s and the 1990s. Her most memorable performances were in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, where she won three gold medals and one silver.
She also won two gold medals in the next 1980 Olympics event. What makes her stand out is the fact that Nellie became the first woman in Olympic history to earn a perfect 10 score on the vault!
Svetlana Boginskaya’s career went through its highest peak during the late 1980s. She became a world all-around champion during 1989 after winning four Olympic medals in 1988.
These included an all-around bronze, a vault gold, as well as a silver for the team and floor. After her stunning performances, Svetlana was named the Goddess of Gymnastics and thus became a popular name among athletes around the world.
When you think of popular female gymnasts who competed throughout history, Svetlana Khorkina should be at the very top of the list. Even though she never won an all-around gold, Svetlana remained one of the most successful gymnasts of all time.
She won seven Olympic medals and an impressive number of World Championship medals (a total of 20)! There was a reason why they named her the Queen of the Bars. Svetlana was the only female gymnast to win consecutive gold medals in this category in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2001.
As a member of the Soviet gymnastics team, Larissa Laynina became a two-time Olympic all-around champion in 1956 and 1960. With a total of 18 medals won throughout her career, Latynina earned the second-ranking among Olympians of all sports.
She is still remembered for her classic style and the way she makes difficult techniques look easy. Her routines were consistent and often very demanding. Altogether, Latynina remains an important part of the history of Russian gymnastics.
Ecaterina Szabo hit the spotlight during the 1984 Olympics when she was expected to win the all-around gold. However, her loss to Mary Lou Retton by only .05 quickly became the most controversial event at the competition.
However, she did manage to secure gold in the individual event finals for not one but three events – vault, beam, and floor. Szabo became the most successful athlete at the 1984 Olympics.
Representing the United States, Dominique Dawes got an opportunity of a lifetime when her teammate Kerri Strug got injured in the 1996 Olympics. After this injury, Dawes got an opportunity to compete in the finals and she managed to take a bronze medal for her team.
Dominique Dawes also wrote history by becoming the first female African-American gymnast to win a medal in an individual event. She was also the first black person to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics!
During her career, McKayla Maroney was a member of the American women’s gymnastics team also known as the “Fierce Five.” Along with her teammates, Maroney won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, as well as a silver in the individual vault event.
A year earlier, she won a gold medal with the same team at the World Championship and, in 2013, she claimed first place on vault. Thus, she became the first female gymnast from the United States to defend a World Championship title.
Jamie Annette Dantzscher is an American former artistic gymnast who took the US Women’s Gymnastics team to new heights after helping them win bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. At that time, her name was everywhere in the Gymnast world.
Dantzscher fell on the floor exercise during the team preliminaries in Sydney but still managed to complete well in the team finals. Dantzscher continued her passion for gymnastics while she got her degree at UCLA. Today, she coaches the sport professionally.
Simona Peycheva is described as one of the best female gymnasts to ever come out of Bulgaria. She began her victorious career at age six, focusing on rhythmic gymnastics.
Her specialties consist of the ball, the hoop, and the club. Today, she is still involved with the sport and is a well-known judge who scores competitions worldwide. She is also married and has a son named Aleksey.
Aly Raisman started gymnastics at just two years old. She became so devoted to the sport that she left high school to pursue her dream of going to the Olympics. The risk paid off because she went on to win three golds, two silvers, and a bronze for the US.
Raisman has an important side-job as an ambassador for UNICEF Kid Power. Aly’s name has also made headlines for her bravery in speaking out against abuse she faced at the hands of gymnastic team doctors.
Almudena Cid Tostado
Almudena Cid Tostado is a Spanish-born gymnast who began her career at age seven. Her main routine was in rhythmic gymnastics and she specializes in the ball. She went on to represent Spain in four different Olympics, including Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, and Beijing.
She retired in 2008, after 21 years of dedication to the sport. Today she is a Nike model and recently got married to Christian Galvez.
Giulia Steingruber is a Swiss-born artistic gymnast who began competitively training at an early age. She went on to compete in the London Olympics as the only gymnast representing Switzerland that year.
In 2015, she took home four medals at the European Games which was held in Baku. It is said that her success in Baku helped propel her professional career. She recently finished third on the vault at the World Gymnastics Championships in Montreal.
Vasiliki Millousi is a Greek athlete whose primary apparatus is the balance beam. She competed on the Greek squad in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2012 London Olympics, and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. However, she has yet to take home an Olympic medal.
With that being said, she has won four at the European Games and 10 medals at the world cup series. Despite being in her mid-30s, Millousi still competitively competes across the world.
Laurie Hernandez is an American gymnast who successfully participated in the Summer Olympics in 2016, being a member of the team coined, the Final Five. She has amassed a total of 11 medals from her gymnastics career, including 4 gold medals.
After her rise to fame from the Olympics, Hernandez competed in and won season 23 of Dancing with the Stars and wrote a New York Times bestselling autobiography.
Madison Kocian is an American gymnast and a Final Five Olympic team competitor with 10 medals for the uneven bars under her belt. She took the silver medal home during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
She started studying at the University of California in 2016 and joined the NCAA gymnastics. It is unclear whether Madison will compete in the next Olympics in Tokyo.
Carly Patterson is a legend in the Gymnastic world after becoming a member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of fame. She received this achievement for being the first American to ever win the Olympic gold medal for the all-around when she competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
After her very successful gymnastics career, she retired in 2006 due to severe back issues. In 2008, her singing career boomed after she signed a contract with MusicMind Reports. She even competed on the TV show Celebrity Duets with Jesse McCartney as her partner.
Kristina Baskett was late to enter the world of gymnastics and only really discovered her talent while studying at the University of Utah. While on the Utah Red Rocks Gymnastics Team, Baskett won the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American award, and the Dahl Award.
Her professional career today is fascinating as she typically works as a stunt double for actress Megan Fox. She has also done stunt performances in episodes on NCIS: Los Angeles, Agents of S.H.I.EL.D, and Game of Thrones.
Agnes Keleti is the greatest Hungarian gymnast of all time. Sadly, she went through a rough time during the Second World War when her family had to hide in a “Swedish House.”
After these tragic events, Keleti returned to her career with a spectacular comeback in 1948. She won 10 medals including 5 golden ones at the 1952 and the 1956 Olympics. The latter was definitely the most successful competition in her entire career.
Tatiana Gutsu is one of the most popular gold-medal gymnasts from the Soviet Union. She represented the Soviet Union when she secured an all-around gold for the team after beating Shannon Miller by .012.
Throughout her career, Gutsu won a long list of awards, including gold and silver on uneven bars in Barcelona. Her performances were exceptionally unique and interesting to watch, you might even want to look them up to witness her talent.
As one of the most successful gymnasts in Romania, Simona Amanar won seven Olympic medals throughout her career. With three Olympic golds, one silver, and three bronze medals, Simona secured her place in the history of Romanian sport.
Besides her individual achievements, Simona won four gold medals with the Romanian gymnastics team. There is even a vault named after her – The Amanar vault – the move that secured her the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
Polina Astakhova was a representative of the Soviet Union gymnastics team who competed for the USSR between 1956 and 1964. During this time, she took part in three Olympic events and won an impressive total of 10 medals.
Her Olympic awards included five gold medals, two silvers, and three bronze ones. Some of Polina’s best performances were on uneven bars, although she was skilled at every single category.
Nadia Comaneci is a big part of the history of this sport because of her outstanding achievements. She scored the first-ever perfect 10 in an Olympic event and she was only 17 years old at the time.
At this age, she won the 1976 all-around gold, as well as gold for uneven bars and balance beam, silver for the team competition, and a bronze for the floor exercise. This was only the beginning of her outstanding career that earned her a forever spot in the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. She also received the Olympic Order, which is the highest award given by the International Olympic Committee.