After retiring from elite gymnastics athletes can try other sports out of curiosity, desire to stay in shape or the chance to represent their country at the Olympics because they missed their opportunity as a gymnast or they simply want to repeat the experience.
Gymnasts can go from Artistic to other forms of gymnastics like Aerobic or Trampoline since they share similar traits to what gymnasts have trained all their lives, however, there are a few examples that show gymnasts can truly excel at completely different sports.
Estela de la Torre is Mexico’s only gymnast ever to advance to an all-around Olympic Final. She competed as a 15-year-old in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and finished 29th (back then the all-around had 36 competitors). After retiring she took on diving achieving her best result at the 1982 World Diving Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador with an 8th place finish. In present-day Estela remains heavily involved in gymnastics as a commentator and she was also the organizer of the Mexican Open from 2011 till 2014.
Natalia Ilienko, the 1981 World Champion on Floor, was one of the gymnasts that was denied the Olympic experience when the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympic Games. Natalia, who accepted a position as a coach in Great Britain, took Aerobic Gymnastics as her second sport and represented Great Britain in the late 90s, the very early days of Aerobic Gymnastics. The FIG recognized Aerobics as one of its own barely in 1995, two decades later Aerobic Gymnastics is still not recognized as an Olympic Sport.
Another famed artistic gymnast to take Aerobic was Izabela Lacatus. A talented junior she was an alternate to the 1992 Romanian Olympic Team. Like Ilienko, she was part of the early days of Aerobic Gymnastics, winning several European and World Medals, particularly outstanding was her gold at the 2000 World Aerobic Championships. Watch her individual performance here
Izabela competed in the Mixed Pair Event alongside Remus Nicolai, Daniela Maranduca’s husband. Daniela struggled through injuries to have her star moment at the 1994 World Team Championships where she shared team gold, she retired afterwards. Later she got involved in Aerobic gymnastics (where she met Nicolai) and enjoyed much success at the World and European Level at the very beginning of the millennium.
Czech gymnast, Daniela Bartova, placed 33rd at the 1991 World Championships, let’s remember that back then the all-around final was constituted by 36 gymnasts. She represented her country at the 1992 Olympics where she finished 64th in the all-around qualification round with her best event being vault. Daniela would go on to vault even higher when she switched to Pole Vaulting. She won a silver medal at the 1998 European Indoor Championships and represented her country at the 2000 Olympics.
Svetlana Feofanova competed well at the national level for Russia. You can watch her 1997 Russian Cup uneven bars routine where she had a high level of difficulty. However her success in international competition came thanks to pole vaulting where she owns two Olympics medals: Silver (Athens, 2004) and Bronze (Beijing 2008)
Marine Debauve made history for France by becoming their first and to date their only European All-Around Champion back in 2005. Marine, who had beam as her best event, represented France at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. After retiring she took Trampoline Gymnastics in the category of Tumbling. She represented her country at home at the 2010 World Championships in Metz, France where she won a bronze medal. She retired afterwards.
Before Marine Debauve, Karine Boucher a French Olympian in 1988 & 1992 took tumbling as well, representing her country at the World Championships in 1996 & 1998. Boucher was a tumbling judge at the 2010 World Championships where Marine won her bronze medal.
Sydney-born Alexandra Croak represented the Australian Team at the 2000 Olympics hosted at home in the very city where she was born. The team finished 7th in the qualification round, barely missing a spot in the team final, at the time only the top 6 teams entered the Olympic Final.
Two years later she won team gold and a silver on vault at the 2002 CommonWealth Games. At the next CommonWealth Games in 2006 she was present again but in a different sport: diving. She won a silver medal in synchronized diving with teammate Melissa Wu and four years later the pair improved by winning gold. At the 2010 CommonWealth Games Alexandra also won a bronze on the 10m Platform. She attended her second Olympics in Beijing in 2008.
Daniela Druncea was a member of the 2006 & 2007 World Team and an alternate for the 2008 Olympic Games. She retired in 2009 and later took on Rowing (coxed 8). So far Daniela and her team have earned 2 European medals and 1 World Medal. In Rio 2016 she won an Olympic Bronze Medal. Get to know more about her story here.
Daniela Druncea was not the first Romanian gymnast to tumble into Rowing back in 2001 Claudia Presecan was reportedly training to become a cox