In recent years, Simone Biles has cemented herself as the greatest gymnast of all time. At only 22, Biles has become the most decorated female gymnast in World Championship History. With 25 total World Championship medals, an astounding 19 of them have been gold. In just a single Olympic Games, Biles won 5 total medals, 4 of them being gold. Biles is one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time. However, accolades are not the only thing that make her so special. Her unique mixture of power, precision, and creativity keep her on the podium and on billboards. She has become one of the world's most famous and recognizable athletes. Biles has had two tricks named after her the "Biles" and "Biles II." She is the only person to ever land these tricks in competition. Recently, the international gymnastics judging body has attempted to reduce Biles' possible success. As she proposed a new trick, never before landed in competition, the judges did not offer it the maximum score. It is believed they did this in order to persuade other gymnasts from attempting the trick. Simone Biles is in a league of her own. Gymnastics is as advanced as it has ever been and it is not safe for other gymnasts to attempt the same moves as Biles.
Svetlana Khorkina is one the most successful gymnasts ever, just based on medals. Combined, she has won 47 Olympic, World, and European Championship medals. She has 7 total olympic medals. In the World Championships, she has 5 gold medals in the uneven bars and is the first gymnast to win 3 all around-titles. Khorkina is also the second gymnast to ever win three European all-around titles. Khorkina's career was plagued by injuries at times, but she was able to continuously come back and succeed. Her tall stature and unique physique kept her from performing many common tricks. However, this also played to her advantage because she was able to do things that shorter competitors were unable to accomplish. Due to her success and dominance on the uneven bars she was nicknamed the "Queen of the Bars." Her height allowed her to move back and forth between the bars with ease. Further, in her floor and beam routines, she emphasized grace and beauty rather than the difficulty of tricks. She maintained her success for 10 years, which is rare for a gymnast. Khorkina is widely considered to be the best Russian gymnast of all time, this is impressive as Russia has always been a powerhouse in gymnastics.
Larisa Latynina has won the most Olympic medals of any gymnast. She has won 18 total Olympic medals and held the record for overall Olympic medals until Michael Phelps broke the record in 2012. Latynina is one of only five athletes to have won nine gold medals. She is one of 3 women to have won every single event at the Olympic or World Championship level. Latynina is also one of three women to have ever won the same event at the Summer Olympics three times. Latynina was one of the first real gymnastics stars, first becoming popularized in 1956. Latynina had a dancing background, so her performances clearly illustrated a dancer's erect posture and classic lines. A reason for her success can be credited to her consistency. Today, gymnasts have incredibly short professional careers only lasting 6 years on average . Opposingly, Latynina began her olympic career at age 21, and won her last medal while nearing age 30. This longevity and consistency allowed her to achieve the level of success she did.
One of the most famous and widely known gymnasts is Nadia Comneci. Her most notable feat is scoring the first perfect 10.0 in Olympic competition. This shocked the world, Comneci was only 14 years old when she achieved this. During the 1976 Olympics, Comneci earned a total of seven perfect scores. Throughout her career, she would go on to win a total of 5 Olympic gold medals, 9 total medals. Comneci at just age 13, won gold in all but one event at the European Championships. Overall, in Comneci's professional career, she won over 30 total medals. She officially retired from professional gymnastics in 1984 and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1996. Following her retirement, Comneci was awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee. The Olympic Order is an award given to people who have shown "remarkable merit in the sports world, or has rendered outstanding services to the Olympic cause, either through his own personal achievement or his contribution to the development of sport". Comneci improved the sport of gymnastics and took it to a new level. Her abilities inspired an entire generation and she will be a gymnastics legend forever.
Olga Korbut is a gymnast that changed the sport forever. In the 1972 Olympics, Korbu became the first gymnast to attempt a backflip when releasing from the uneven bars. She stuck the landing and made history. This was dubbed the "Korbut Flip." For this move she was awarded a 9.8. When the score was announced, the crowd was in an uprise and chanted for a 10.0 for minutes straight. The judges did not change their scores. Overall she won 4 Olympic gold medals and 6 total Olympic medals. Along with the famous Korbut Flip, Korbut also created the Korbut salto, a backwards aerial somersault on the balance beam. In total, Korbut won a total of 13 medals in the Olympics, World Championship, and European Championship. Korbut's respectable medal accumulation and overall cultural impact makes her unarguably one of the best gymnasts of all time.
Gina Goegan won an astounding 30 total medals in her professional career (Olympics, World Championships, and European Championships). In the World Championships, she won a total of 9 gold medals. The stretch from 1992 to 1997 brought Goegan 5 Olympic and 15 World Championship medals. Gogean was known for her impressive stability and consistent ability to continuously perform tricks over and over again. She was rewarded for this by judges. There was scrutiny for her "playing it safe" while new and younger gymnasts began attempting harder tricks and pushing the limits of gymnastics. However, although she was scrutinized by many, she continued doing it and continued winning medals. In 2013, Gogean was rewarded for her career when she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.