Yelena Shushunova

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Yelena Shushunova
Yelena Shushunova 1987.jpg
Shushunova in 1987
Personal information
Full nameYelena Lvovna Shushunova
Alternative name(s)Elena Shushunova
Country represented Soviet Union
Born(1969-04-23)23 April 1969
Leningrad, Russian SSR, Soviet Union
Died16 August 2018(2018-08-16) (aged 49)
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Height1.47 m (4 ft 10 in)
Weight41 kg (90 lb)
DisciplineWomen's artistic gymnastics
ClubSKA St. Petersburg
Music"Dark Eyes"
Retired25 September 1988

Yelena Lvovna Shushunova (Russian: Елена Львовна Шушунова; sometimes spelled Elena Shushunova; 23 April 1969 – 16 August 2018) was a Soviet Russian gymnast.[1][2][3] Shushunova was one of five women (alongside Larisa Latynina, Věra Čáslavská, Ludmilla Tourischeva and Lilia Podkopayeva) who have won all-around titles at all major competitions: Olympics, World Championships and European/Continental Championships[4] and one of ten women who medaled on every event at World Championships. Shushunova was renowned for pioneering complex skills as well as for her explosive and dynamic tumbling and high consistency.[5]

Junior career[edit]

Shushunova was born and grew up in Leningrad and began gymnastics when she was approximately six or seven years old,[4][6] she began competing as a junior gymnast in 1981.[3] In 1982, she won gold medals at the 1982 Moscow News (now known as Moscow Stars of the World) and the Junior European Championships. In 1983, she won the USSR Cup, which she won every year until 1988 with the exception of 1984.[3]

Senior career[edit]

Shushunova was named as a member of the Soviet national gymnastics team in 1984, but was unable to compete at the 1984 Summer Olympics as the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympics.[7] Instead, she competed at the 1984 Friendship Games in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia, where she finished third all around and helped the USSR to a gold in the team event.[4]

The following year Shushunova made her breakthrough by winning the all-around title at the European Championships,[7] she also won three gold medals in the event finals on vault, floor exercise, and uneven bars (which she shared with East German Olympian Maxi Gnauck). At the World Championships she won five medals including the all-around title, which she shared with compatriot Oksana Omelianchik, she took first on vault, third on beam, and second on floor. In her floor exercise she tumbled a double layout, and side Arabian 1 and 3/4 salto, both rare skills for women at that time; in fact, women are no longer allowed to compete saltos which end in a roll. Here she displayed her signature skill, a straddle jump to prone support, a rare and innovative move for the 1980s.[7]

Shushunova's dominance in women's gymnastics continued at the 1986 World Cup in Beijing. There she won the all-around, vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise titles. In this competition she displayed an increased level of difficulty on two apparatus, showing a Rulfova flic (full twisting Korbut flic) on balance beam and a tucked full in double salto dismount on the uneven bars.[4] At the 1986 Goodwill Games she led the Soviet team to a gold medal, but then fell twice in the all-around finals to finish second to teammate Vera Kolesnikova, she rallied in the event finals to take, once again, the vault, bars, and floor golds and the beam silver.[8]

In 1987, Shushunova lost the European title to Romanian Daniela Silivaș due to a fall on a double layout dismount from the uneven bars.[9] At the European Championships she earned a bronze in the all-around and a gold on vault,[4] she continued to show increased difficulty on all apparatus by competing a double layout dismount on the uneven bars, a layout Thomas salto on floor, and a full in dismount on beam. Later that year her team lost the World Championships team title, placing second to the Romanian team. Shushunova also lost the world title to Romanian Aurelia Dobre, finishing in second place.[7] In the event finals she retained her vault title with her textbook Yurchenko full and Yurchenko 1.5, beating Romanian Eugenia Golea. She also earned a bronze medal on the uneven bars.[7]

1988 Olympics[edit]

In 1988, Shushunova competed at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, she scored three perfect scores of 10 in optional events and won the individual all-around and team event titles. She also won silver on balance beam and bronze on uneven bars.[5][7]

Later life[edit]

Shushunova retired from competition two months after the 1988 Olympics and later returned to her home city of Saint Petersburg, where she worked for the city's sports committee,[6] she helped to organise the gymnastics events of the 1994 Goodwill Games and 1998 European Championships, both of which were held in Saint Petersburg.[4]

In 2004, she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.[10] In the following year, she was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[7]

Eponymous skills[edit]

Apparatus Name Description Difficulty Notes
Uneven bars Shushunova Swing forward with half turn – further half turn to counter straddle in flight over high bar E [11][12]
Balance beam Shushunova Jump with stretched hips to planche (minimum 40 degree angle) C [11]


Shushunova died from complications of pneumonia on 16 August 2018, she was 49.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Умерла двукратная олимпийская чемпионка по спортивной гимнастике Елена Шушунова. ТАСС (in Russian). Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  2. ^ Rédaction. "L'ancienne gymnaste russe Elena Chouchounova est morte". L'ÉQUIPE (in French). Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Schenker, Béla. "Elena Shushunova". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Yelena Shushunova". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC.
  5. ^ a b "Yelena Shushunova | The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b " Whatever happened to Elena Shushunova?". 11 November 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Yelena Shushunova.
  8. ^ "International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Olympic champion Yelena Shushunova passes away at 49". Olympic Channel | Articles. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  10. ^ "YELENA SHUSHUNOVA". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, on August 16, 2018, Shushunova died from complications of pneumonia at age 49. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  11. ^ a b xxxxx. "1988 Olympic All Around Champion Elena Shushunova Dead, Aged 49". WOGymnastika. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  12. ^ "A Guide To Named Release Moves On Bars – Part 1". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  13. ^ Zaccardi, Nick (16 August 2018). "Yelena Shushunova, 1988 Olympic all-around champion, dies at 49". NBC Sports. Retrieved 17 August 2018.

External links[edit]