From Atlanta To Rio: 20 Things a 20 Year Fan Has Seen

1. The End of Compulsories. For a fan that became engaged as a true fan during Atlanta, “Compulsories” are only a feeble memory, as the 1996 Olympics were the last competition where they were contested.

2. Romania’s Best Days. After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1992 Romania began an era of dominance, they won every single World Team title between 1994 and 2001. And for a fan that emerged in 1996, Romania was the number one powerhouse to watch at the time. Watch a montage that remembers Romania’s last Word Team Title (2001).

3. Khorkina’s reign. In Atlanta 17-year-old Khorkina was a young promise that after a fall from the bars in the all-around went on to claim the Olympic Bars Title. After Altanta Khorkina became the Queen of Gymnastics winning three World All Around Titles (1997, 2001 & 2003) a feat that remained unequaled until Simone Biles won her third World All-Around Title in 2015.

4. Ukraine at its prime. A gymnastics fan that emerged in 1996 will happily remember Lilia Podkopayeva at the top of the all-around podium in Atlanta and also the great talent Viktoria Karpenko was. A fan of 20 years can validate, that once upon a time, Ukraine was one to watch for.

5. The Originators. At Rio many gymnasts will compete the Amanar and the Produnova vaults however a 20 year fan can remember when Yelena Produnova and Simona Amânar actually debuted the skills.

6. The Sydney Drama.

A happy team victory for Romania became shock when Andreea Răducan was stripped from her all-around gold medal after a cold medicine she had taken made her test positive for pseudoephedrine. Even though the substance is no longer banned and that it has been proven that she did not take it purposely all her attempts to get her gold medal back have failed.

Russia that was always chasing the team gold medal had four shocking falls and had to settle for team silver. But that was nothing compared to the fact that Svetlana Khorkina fell during the vault rotation in the all-around final and in the next rotation while she was getting ready to mount the bars it was discovered that the vault had been settled at the wrong height. Khorkina did not learn this until after her dismount from bars, gymnasts would be given a second chance at the vault, but it was too late for Svetlana as she had fallen from the bars.

And to end the shocking streak Viktoria Karpenko, who was leading the field going into her last event, and was ready to make history for Ukraine as the second consecutive all-around Olympic Champion, tripped, yes tripped, after her first tumbling pass ending all her chances of glory.

7. Two vaults for the all-around. Up until 2001 gymnasts had to do two vaults in the all-around final.

8. The end of the three-per-country rule. The last time it was allowed at a major competition was at the 2001 Worlds. Romania had three contestants in the all-around final (Andreea Răducan, Sabina Cojocar and Silvia Stroescu). The last podium sweep, thanks to the three-per-country rule happened in Sydney 2000 during the all-around final and it was also achieved by the Romanians when Andreea Raducan won followed by Simona Amanar and Maria Olaru.

9. The beginning of the three-up three-count. Fans that have been around less than ten years cannot remember the time when teams had the opportunity to drop the lowest score on each apparatus during World and Olympic Team Finals.

10. Oksana Chusovitina and Daniele Hypólito. A 20 year fan will remember Oksana Chusovitina as a returning Olympian in Atlanta from the 1992 Unified Team, therefore witnessing 6 of the 7 Olympics she’s been at. As for Daniele Hypolito she was the young Brazilian promise debuting at her first Olympics in Sydney, 5 Olympics later she is the leader of her team.

11. The new vaulting table. While for today’s new seniors the vaulting table is a natural piece of equipment a two decade fan will remember the pleasant surprise that came from seeing the gymnasts vaulting from a bigger and safer table. In fact Simone Biles has said the former vault table is a big no for her. 

12. The disappearance of the perfect 10. After 10 years of being a fan, the 10 perfect was gone. This was a history marking event because if you were not a hard-core fan understanding the sport was a lot more difficult, as a result gymnastics may have lost some fans here and there. For hard-core fans it was a change of era in gymnastics as now difficulty has a lot more value than execution, the complete opposite of what it was before.

13. The rise of the falling deductions. The deductions for a fall have risen from 0.5 during the Perfect-10 era, to 0.8 during the 2006-2008 period, to a full point since 2009.

14. 14-year-olds competing elite. A 20 year fan can remember the last gymnast to legally compete at the Olympics while aged 14, Dominique Moceanu, and the last 14-year-old to legally become a World Champion, Ksenia Semenova (Uneven Bars, 2007).

15. The rise in the age of the competing gymnasts. Just to name a few of the gymnasts that will be present in Rio and that are well into their 20s or older include: Oksana Chusovitina (41), Daniele Hypólito (31), Catalina Ponor (28), Vanessa Ferrari (25) and Rebecca Downie (24)

16. Countries that were first time World Gold Medalists or Team Medalists. In two decades several teams that were not considered World contenders now have a world champion or a team medal.

  • 2002: Elena Gómez (Spain, Floor)
  • 2003: Daiane Dos Santos (Brazil, Floor)
  • 2003: Australia (Bronze in the team competition)
  • 2006: Vanessa Ferrari (Italy, All-around)
  • 2006: Elizabeth Tweddle (Great Britain, Uneven Bars)
  • 2010: Lauren Mitchell (Australia, Floor)
  • 2015: Great Britain (Bronze in the team competition)

 17.Saddest and shocking events at Worlds/Olympics.

 2003 Worlds: Alexandra Chevtchenkova scored a 7.575 on Floor during the first rotation of the Team Final dropping Russia out of contention for a medal.

 2007 Worlds: Ekaterina Kramarenko, in the last rotation and when Russia almost had a secured team medal, bailed on her vault but placed her hands on the vault earning an automatic zero and dropping Russia from third to last.

2008 Olympics: During the vault event finals, Anna Pavlova started her second vault before the green light flashed, the error cost her dearly as she was given an automatic zero.

2010: The age falsifying scandals.

China was stripped from their Sydney Team bronze medal after it was discovered Dong Fangxiao had been underage at the Olympics. Their bronze medal was awarded to the U.S. team that had originally finished fourth. 

North Korea got banned for two years after it was discovered that their 2004 Olympian Hong Su Jong birth date had been falsified and that she had been underage while competing in Athens. Automatically North Korea lost its chance to compete at the 2012 Olympics.

18.Olympic heart breaking moments LIVE.

Two decades fan have seen this list of history making moments just as they happened:

  • In Atlanta, Dominique Dawes and Svetlana Khorkina fall during floor and bars, respectively, while being top favourites for the all-around podium.
  • In Sydney, Khorkinva falls on vault at the all-around final because the height was wrongly adjusted; Viktoria Karpeko trips after a tumbling pass when she was one routine away of Olympic glory and to make matters worse Andreea Răducan gets stripped from her all-around medal.
  • In Athens, Svetlana Khorkina says good-bye to her 10-year-long career falling off the bars during the event finals as for Anna Pavlova her tears are heart breaking as she finishes 4th in the all-around final. She would also finish 4th during the beam final at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
  • In Beijjng, three team captains fall off the beam during the team final: Anna Pavlova, Cheng Fei and Alicia Sacramone.
  • In London, Vanessa Ferrari and Catalina Ponor loose Olympic bronze medals due to tie-breaking rule

19.Olympic History making moments LIVE.

  • Two decades fan have seen this list of history making moments just as they happened:
  • In Atlanta, Kerri Strug injures her foot during her first vault but needs to do a second one to secure her team’s medal, she does and is carried off as a hero as the United States wins team gold at home.
  • In Sydney, Andreea Răducan stands in the shoulders of her coach saluting the crowd as she is the new Olympic all-around champion, sadly her joy would be short-lived.
  • In Athens, Emilie Le Pennec wins France’s only Olympic Gold medal in gymnastics during the uneven bars final while Carly Patterson becomes the first American all-around champion at a fully attended Olympics.
  • In Beijjng, Anastasia Liukin, the daughter of two Soviet legends, Valeri Liukin and Anna Kotchneva, is crowned Olympic All-around Champion while Hong Un Jong gives North Korea its first Olympic gold medal in gymnastics
  • In London, Gabrielle Douglas becomes the first gymnast since 1992 to earn gold on both the team and the all-around final while Elizabeth Tweddle gives her home-crowd a bronze medal on the uneven bars.

20. Truly artistic gymnasts. In two decades, from Lilia Podkopayeva in Atlanta 1996 to Aliya Mustafina in Rio 2016, fans have witnessed genuine artistic gymnasts that have made this sport even more beautiful and magnificent.


Rio de Janeiro, A History

10 Cool Facts from the 1996 Olympic Games

Remembering Sydney 2000 in 20 Cool Facts


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