Svetlana Boginskaya

Svetlana Leonidovna Boginskaya (Belarusian: Святлана Леанідаўна Багінская, romanizedSviatlana Lieanidauna Bahinskaya; born February 9, 1973) is a former artistic gymnast for the Soviet Union and Belarus of Belarusian origin. She is a three-time Olympic champion, with an individual gold medal on vault from the 1988 Summer Olympics and team gold medals from the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics.

Svetlana Boginskaya
Svetlana Boginskaya.jpg
Personal information
Full nameSvetlana Leonidovna Boginskaya
Alternative name(s)Svyatlana Leanidaŭna Bahinskaya (Святлана Леанідаўна Багінская)
Nickname(s)Belarusian Swan, Goddess of Gymnastics
Country represented Belarus
Former countries represented CIS (Olympic flag.svg Unified Team),  Soviet Union
Born (1973-02-09) February 9, 1973 (age 50)
Minsk, Soviet Union
Height158.5 cm (5 ft 2 in)
DisciplineWomen's artistic gymnastics
LevelSenior International Elite
Head coach(es)Tatiana Grosovivich
Former coach(es)Lyubov Miromanova
Medal record

Early life and careerEdit

Boginskaya was born in Minsk, Belarus. She was a figure skater for several years, but began gymnastics at age six. Two years later, she moved to Moscow to train full-time at the Round Lake Gymnastics Center. By age fourteen, she was a member of the Soviet national team.

She won her first world medal, a bronze on balance beam, at the 1987 World Championships. She went on to compete in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, where she won four medals: gold in the team competition, gold on vault, silver on floor, and bronze in the individual all-around.

Just three days after the Olympics, Boginskaya's longtime coach, Lyubov Miromanova, committed suicide. Miromanova had been a surrogate mother to Boginskaya, coaching and caring for her after she moved from Minsk to train full-time in Moscow. After her death, Boginskaya began training with Tatiana Grosovivich. Under Grosovivich's tutelage, Boginskaya became world champion in 1989 and later dedicated her performance to her late mentor.

In 1990, Boginskaya became the fourth woman to sweep the European Championships, winning the gold medal in every individual event. The only other gymnasts to do so were Věra Čáslavská, Ludmilla Tourischeva, and Larisa Latynina. In doing so, she defended her titles in the all-around, vault, and floor exercise, and added titles in the uneven bars and balance beam. In 1991, in a controversial finish, Boginskaya lost the gold medal in the all-around to Kim Zmeskal of the United States. However, she earned gold medals in the team and balance beam competitions.

In 1992, Boginskaya, then 19 years old, had a disappointing performance at the 1992 European Championships, falling on her final event, the floor exercise. She finished in fifth place, while her young teammate Tatiana Gutsu won the all-around title. Boginskaya won the balance beam title with a score of 9.95 and remained a favorite to win the all-around title at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Many in the gymnastics world expected a duel between Boginskaya and Zmeskal at the Olympics, and the media promoted this story. However, while Boginskaya won her third Olympic gold medal in the team competition, she faltered on the uneven bars in the individual all-around and finished fifth; Zmeskal finished tenth. Meanwhile, their younger teammates Tatiana Gutsu and Shannon Miller won the gold and silver medals.

Boginskaya retired after the 1992 Olympics but decided to make a comeback in 1995. She said that she was inspired by Katarina Witt who had made a memorable comeback of her own at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Boginskaya moved to Houston, Texas, to train with Bela Karolyi and upgraded the difficulty of her routines. In 1996, at age 23, she placed second in the all-around at the American Cup to one of Karolyi's pupils, Kerri Strug, as well as at the European Championships in Birmingham, behind the defending world all-around champion (and future Olympic all-around champion), Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine. She then progressed to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was one of a number of older gymnasts competing. She led the Belarus team to sixth place and competed in the all-around and vault finals, but won no individual medals, placing 15th in the all-around and fifth on vault.

Boginskaya is among a small group of women to have competed in three Olympic Games; and due to the break-up of the Soviet Union, she competed at each Games under a different flag: USSR, the Unified Team, and Belarus. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2005.[1]

Boginskaya has remained active in both the American and international gymnastics communities, and works as a consulting guest coach. In the early 2010s, she frequently supported former teammate Oksana Chusovitina, who competed well into her 40s and appeared on the competition floor as her coach. Living in Houston with her husband and two children, she runs several businesses, including an online gymnastics apparel retailer, a summer camp for gymnasts, and a pizzeria.[2]

In popular cultureEdit

After the 1992 Olympics, Boginskaya appeared alongside her compatriot Vitaly Scherbo in the music video for the song "Revolution Earth," by The B-52's.


Boginskaya's floor routine at the 1988 Olympics was done to the music of Georges Bizet's Carmen, and another routine she performed in parts of 1990 and 1991 was choreographed by the Bolshoi Ballet. Her uneven bars exercise included a signature giant to handstand with 180° split into a toe-on element. Commentators and reporters cited her height and slim stature as elements she used to her advantage through attention to posture and body alignment; meanwhile they also suggested that she relied more on execution and presentation than difficulty, though she did usually fulfill requirements and earn 10.0 start values. She frequently landed dismounts and vaults with her right foot placed slightly in front of her left, an intentional touch of artistry that also helped her stick landings.

Competitive historyEdit

Overview of competitive history
Year Event Team AA VT UB BB FX
1987 World Championships 2nd 3rd
1988 Olympic Games 1st 3rd 1st 2nd
1989 European Championships 1st 1st 4th 4th 1st
World Championships 1st 1st 8th 1st
1990 European Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Goodwill Games 1st 2nd 3rd 1st
World Cup Final 2nd 3rd 4th 4th 1st
1991 World Championships 1st 2nd 5th 1st 7th
1992 European Championships 5th 8th 4th 1st
World Championships 2nd 6th
Olympic Games 1st 5th 4th 5th
1995 World Championships 8th 16th
1996 American Cup 2nd 1st 1st 1st
European Championships 4th 2nd 6th 6th 4th 6th
Olympic Games 6th 15th 5th
Detailed competitive history
Year Competition Description Location Competed For Apparatus Final Qualifying
Rank Score Rank Score
1991 World Championships Indianapolis Soviet Union Team 1st 396.055
All-Around 2nd 39.736 1st 79.548
Vault 5th 9.850 1st 19.837
Uneven Bars WD 1st 19.912
Balance Beam 1st 9.962 2nd 19.887
Floor Exercise 7th 9.862 1st 19.912
1990 World Cup Final Brussels All-Around 2nd 39.586
Vault 3rd 9.912 1st 9.937
Uneven Bars 4th 9.887 6th 9.825
Balance Beam 4th 9.887 2nd 9.887
Floor Exercise 1st 9.962 1st 9.937
European Championships Athens All-Around 1st 39.874
Vault 1st 9.943 1st 10.000
Uneven Bars 1st 9.950 1st 9.975
Balance Beam 1st 10.000 2nd 9.962
Floor Exercise 1st 10.000 1st 9.937
1989 World Championships Stuttgart Team 1st 396.793
All-Around 1st 39.900 79.262
Vault 19.925
Uneven Bars 8th 9.450 19.925
Balance Beam 19.425
Floor Exercise 1st 10.000 1st 19.987
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona CIS Team 1st 395.666
All-Around 5th 39.673 2nd 79.287
Vault 4th 9.899 8th 19.800
Uneven Bars 10th 19.787
Balance Beam 5th 9.862 2nd 19.800
Floor Exercise WD 1st 19.900
World Championships Paris Vault 2nd 9.943
Vault (Semi−Final) 1st 9.912
Vault (Qualification) 1st 9.900
Balance Beam 6th 9.750
European Championships Nantes All-Around 5th 39.136
Vault 8th 9.675 2nd 9.937
Uneven Bars 4th 9.850 2nd 9.937
Balance Beam 1st 9.950 1st 9.937
Floor Exercise 44th 9.325
1995 World Championships Sabae Belarus Team 8th 375.512
All-Around 16th 38.261 14th 76.461
Vault 23rd 18.925
Uneven Bars 29th 19.124
Balance Beam 20th 18.975
Floor Exercise 15th 19.437
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta Team 6th 381.263
All-Around 13th 38.499 25th 76.223
Vault 5th 9.712 9th 19.474
Uneven Bars 64th 18.587
Balance Beam 27th 18.850
Floor Exercise 24th 19.312
European Championships Birmingham Team 4th 114.546
All-Around 2nd 39.106 4th 38.898
Vault 6th 9.662 5th 9.737
Uneven Bars 6th 9.725 7th 9.737
Balance Beam 4th 9.575 5th 9.662
Floor Exercise 6th 9.600 3rd 9.762

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "SVETLANA BOGINSKAYA". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
  2. ^ "Olympic Champion Svetlana Boginskaya". Russian American Business. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved October 14, 2008.

External linksEdit