Sport: Gymnastics Inducted: 2005 Country: USSR Born: May 23, 1969 in Leningrad, Russia Died: August 16, 2018
Yelena Shushunova needed a perfect 10 to win the All-Around
gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games. And, she nailed it!
The 19-year old Russian medaled four times at the Seoul Olympics––gold
in the All-Around and Team events, a silver medal in Balance
Beam, and a bronze on the Uneven Bars. She also placed seventh
in Floor Exercises and eighth on Vault.
Her Olympic victory was something of a comeback for Shushunova. A year earlier,
at the 1987 World Championships in Rotterdam, Shushunova won the Vault and Floor
Exercises (tie with Daniela Silivas), but could only muster a silver medal in
the All-Around. She also took the silver on the Balance Beam, and bronze on the
Uneven Bars. At the 1987 European Championships in Moscow, she again finished
second in the All-Around and won the Vault, but did not medal in other events.
The 1985 European Championships in Helsinki served as Shushunova’s ‘breakthrough’.
She captured the All-Around gold medal over East Germany’s Maxi Gnauck,
and won the Vault, Floor Exercises and Uneven Bars (tie with Gnauck), and added
a bronze on the Balance Beam. Later that year at the World Championships in Montreal,
she was gold in the All-Around (tie with Soviet teammate Oksana Omelianchik),
took a silver in Floor Exercises, a bronze medal on the Balance Beam, and shared
a Team gold medal with her champion Soviet teammates.
The Russian gymnast would likely have enjoyed success at the 1984 Olympics, but
her Soviet team boycotted the Los Angeles Games. In 1986, would-be ’84
Soviet Olympians competed in the inaugural Goodwill Games, and Shushunova captured
four gold and two silver medals.
Competing in the Junior Europeans in 1982, Shushunova finished in a three-way
tie for the gold medal in Floor Exercises, and finished 15th in the All-Around.
Shushunova retired from competition following the ’88 Olympics. She was
inducted into the International Gymnasts Hall of Fame in 2004,