Nadia Comaneci, 1976 American Cup
This was the young Romanian's international debut. She captivated the commentators and audience alike with her stunning opening pass (a double back was a big thing at the time!). The slightly childish and cheeky choreography suits the 14 year old perfectly. The routine is made memorable by her trade mark 'straddled' back layout and the flick of the hand at the end of the routine. She scored a perfect 10, and went on to make history as the first gymnast to ever score perfect score at the Olympic Games
Nadia performs her floor exercise at the American Cup in 1976
Irina Baraksanova, 1985 World Championships, Optionals
One of the lesser known Soviet gymnasts of her time, Baraksanova performs to a beautiful piece of music used many years later by American gymnast Ivanna Hong. She uses her flexibility in her back and shoulders to create beautiful positions throughout the routine. Graceful and intricate hand movements add to the artistic flair of this routine.
Irina Baraksanova of the Soviet Union competes her floor exercise at the 1985 World Championships
Olessia Dudnik, 1989 World Championships
Olessia uses the music to accentuate her tumbling, which keeps to routine upbeat and exciting. Performed in a theatrical style, it is easy to believe that she is portraying a story with her movements. The central section is so expressive and lovely to watch. Due to composition requirements, gymnasts these days rarely take time out in their routines to focus on artistic segments. The stuck landing on the final pass doesn't hurt either!
Olessia's floor exercise, performed at the 1989 World Championships
Svetlana Boginskaya, 1996 Olympics
Demonstrating the typical 'diva' style of the Russians, Boginskaya takes it a step above the rest of her competitors by channeling her inner tigress. Although the choreography is somewhat bizzare, it suits her well. She has mastered the head flick, but the routine contains a bit to much hip-waggling for my liking! Nethertheless, she is entertaining, dramatic, powerful and graceful- exactly the qualities a champion should have.
The Russian Svetlana Boginskaya competes in the 1996 Olympic Games of Atlanta
Dominique Moceanu, 1996 Olympic Games
Moceanu, the 'darling' of the gold medal winning USA team brings the house down with her rendition of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia'. She displays her incredible athleticism, poise and beautiful extension on her tumble runs. Most importantly, she looks as though she is enjoying the whole performance. And the crowd absolutely loves her- listen to the cheers at the end.
Dominique Moceanu, the youngest member of the winning USA team competes during team finals at the 1996 Olympics in front of a home crowd
Stay tuned for Part Two!
Article by Imogen Browne (@ImogenMireille)