Stella Zakharova

Stella Zakharova (born 12 July 1963 in Odessa, Ukraine) is a retired gymnast who competed internationally for the former Soviet Union between 1977 and 1982. She was an Olympic and World Championship gold medalist in team competitions, and won individual all-around titles at other events.

Stella Zakharova
Country represented Soviet Union
Born (1963-07-12) 12 July 1963 (age 59)
Odessa, Ukraine
DisciplineWomen's artistic gymnastics
Medal record
Representing  Soviet Union
Olympic Games
Olympic rings.svg
Gold medal – first place 1980 Moscow Team
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1981 Moscow Team
Silver medal – second place 1979 Fort Worth Team
Silver medal – second place 1979 Fort Worth Vault
Silver medal – second place 1981 Moscow Vault
World Cup Final
Gold medal – first place 1979 Tokyo All-Around
Gold medal – first place 1980 Toronto All-Around
Gold medal – first place 1980 Toronto Vault
Silver medal – second place 1979 Tokyo Vault
Silver medal – second place 1979 Tokyo Floor Exercise
Silver medal – second place 1980 Toronto Floor Exercise
Bronze medal – third place 1979 Tokyo Uneven Bars

Zakharova won her first all-around championship at the 1976 All-Union School Spartakiade. That same year she placed second overall in the Junior USSR Championships. She was a consistently strong competitor through 1977-78, winning several vaulting and floor exercise event titles. A powerful tumbler, Zakharova was the first woman to incorporate three double-back somersaults into her floor routine.

Zakhrova's most successful year was 1979, during which she won individual all-around championships at the American Cup, Moscow News, and World Cup events. At the World Championships held in Fort Worth, Texas she was a member of the Soviet women's team which finished second to the Romanian squad led by an injured Nadia Comăneci. It was the first time the Soviets had failed to beat their Romanian rivals in a major team competition.

In 1980 Zakharova continued to enjoy success, winning the gold medal with her Soviet teammates at the Olympic games and capturing a second all-around title at the World Cup. That proved to be her high-water mark, as her performances began to decline from 1981 onward.

After retirement, Stella Zakharova married Dynamo Kiev football player Viktor Khlus. The couple have a son and a daughter. Zakharova's home country Ukraine hosts an annual Stella Zakharova Cup competition in artistic gymnastics, named in her honor.

Footage of Stella Zakharova training with the Soviet national team was captured in a 1978 Soviet Gymnastics training documentary; Zakharova appears about one minute into the clip [1]. Included in the film are teammates Elena Mukhina, Natalia Shaposhnikova and Maria Filatova.

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