Yelena Zamolodchikova gymnastics postscript

Nine years after her double gold success at the 2000 Olympic Games, Russian Yelena Zamolodchikova officially retired following the World University Games earlier this month, a Russian gymnastics site reports. The paragraph pays homage to Zamo, using words like “fighter” to describe her, and notes that she plans to become a trainer and judge.

Despite her incredible athletic ability, I always felt Zamo looked a bit fragile in competitions, but perhaps that’s because of her personal history: at 26 years old, she has lost both of her parents. Her father, a soldier, helped clean up the mess at Chernobyl in 1986 after the nuclear reactor exploded, and died of cancer likely caused by radiation exposure right before Yelena competed at the 2000 European Championships, where she won gold with the team, two silvers and a bronze.

Her mother, who lived to see Zamo earn her Olympic medals, has also passed away. At the 2006 American Cup, when Zamo struggled, the commentators rather dramatically made it sound as though her options in Russia were to keep training or live on the street.

But among the gymnastics community in Russia, Zamo continues to be valued. “We cannot leave such experts in our kind of sports [behind], as Lena,” Valentine Rodionenko is quoted as saying in the news story.

Unlike Oksana Chusovitina, the energizer bunny of the sport, Zamolodchikova was no longer competitive at the end of her career, even on her best events. At her last competition, she recorded a 13.4 on vault and a 12.65 on floor.

She had some great moments though — including being the only person other than Simona Amanar to stand up a 2.5-twisting Yurchenko done off the old vaulting horse.

Yelena Zamolodchkova, 2001 French Telecom, Vault:

She was also a very cute kid. Here she is at 13 in the mid-90s at the Capetown Cup (love the leotard), on Vault:

Bars:

Beam:

Floor:

3 Responses to “Yelena Zamolodchikova gymnastics postscript”

  1. Kayla Says:

    I love Elena.

    I didn’t know she lost her mother too, though. Poor thing… what happened?! 😦

  2. Kennedy Says:

    This was totally expected (actually thought she retired already), but sad nonetheless. Zamo was my favorite of the 2000 Olympics.

  3. bill weymouth Says:

    I admire Zamo for many reasons. I can’t recall a better looking gymnast. I was lucky enough to see her at 2003 Worlds in California. I’m sure she must have had opportunities in the USA, but she remained loyal to Russia. I’m sorry to hear about her parents. I hope the Russians are appropriately rewarding her hard work and success.

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