25. December 2006  
Moscow / Russia  
Artistic Gymnastics

Elena MUKHINA died in Moscow...!

Sadness at Christmas Times....!
Two days before Christmas Eve the former Russian (Soviet) gymnastic star Elena MUKHINA died last Friday evening in her hometown Moscow at the age of 46.
The 1978 world all-around champion, winnng also four European titles at the continental championships 1977 (Prague) and 1979 (Copenhagen), who had been paralyzed by a pre-Olympic training accident in 1980, was just like the Romanian Nadia COMANECI one of the world superstars of the second half of the Seventieth of the last century ....

The worldwide gymnastics family will keep her in remembrance as a sadly sample desirous of national success in times of competing and fighting political systems...
Up until 1975, Elena Mukhina was an unremarkable gymnast, but after then, she teamed up with men's coach Mikhail KLIMENKO and she transformed into one of the most show stopping gymnasts of her time: In 1976 she won the title of a Soviet junior all-around champion, but she did not qualify for the Olympic team (Montreal).
After winning three European titles at the continental championships in Prague (1977), she burst onto the scene at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France.
In one of the most stunning all-around performances in history, she won the gold medal, beating out Olympic Champions Nadia COMANECI and Nellie KIM among others. She also tied for the gold medal in the floor exercise event final, as well as winning the silver in balance beam and uneven bars.
She made history in this competition by unveiling her signature moves: a full-twisting layout Korbut salto on bars; a tucked double back salto dismount on beam (a move that is still being used more than 25 years later); and a full-twisting double back somersault on floor (still an E-rated move in the Code of Points). She quickly established herself as an athlete to watch for at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

The Soviet Union awarded her "Order of Lenin" in response to her injury and in 1983, Juan Antonio SAMARANCH, the IOC President, awarded her the Silver Medal of the Olympic Order. ....

Following the injury, the Soviet Gymnastics Federation remained secretive about the events surrounding Mukhina's cataclysmic injury.
Elena herself was reclusive following the incident, seldom publicly discussing the accident.

In a rare interview with "Ogonyok MAGAZINE", Elena spoke about the Soviet gymnastics program, criticizing it for deceiving the public about her injury, and for the system's insatiable desire for gold medals and championships:
"...for our country, athletic successes and victories have always meant somewhat more than even simply the prestige of the nation. They embodied (and embody) the correctness of the political path we have chosen, the advantages of the system, and they are becoming a symbol of superiority. Hence the demand for victory - at any price. As for risk, well... We've always placed a high value on risk, and a human life was worth little in comparison with the prestige of the nation..."