When selecting the 10 best gymnastic gold medalists of all time, one thing becomes clear: Before the fall of communism, the former Soviet Union once dominated the sport. Eight of the ten on our list come from countries that formerly made up the superpower.
- Vitaly Scherbo. Representing Belarus, Vitaly Scherbo captured six gold medals at the ’92 Barcelona Games—the most ever won by a gymnast in one competition earning him top spot on the list of the best gymnastic gold medalists of all time.
- Larissa Latynina. Nine gold medals in three Olympics (’56, ’60, ’64) earns this Russian a high ranking on our list of the best gymnastic gold medalists. Throw in five silver medals and four bronze medals and Larissa Latynina is one of the most decorated Olympians of all time.
- Nikolai Andrianov. With fifteen total medals in three Olympic Games (’72, ’76, ’80), Nikolai Andrianov left his mark in the world of gymnastics. Seven of those fifteen medals were gold making the Soviet one of the ten best Olympic gymnasts of all time.
- Nadia Comaneci. With five Olympic gold medals won at ’76 Montreal (at just fourteen years of age) and ’80 Moscow, Nadia Comaneci earned status as perhaps the most famous female gymnast ever. The Romanian also earns a spot on our list of the best gymnastic gold medalists of all time.
- Sawao Kato. This man from Japan dominated gymnastics in three separate Olympics. At ’68 Mexico City, ’72 Munich, and ‘76 Montreal, Sawao Kato won eight gold medals making him one of the greatest Olympic gymnasts of all time.
- Alexei Nemov. This Russian grabbed two gold medals at the ’96 Atlanta Games and added two more at Sydney in 2000. Totaling a dozen Olympic medals overall, Alexei Nemov is clearly one of the greatest Olympic gymnasts of all time.
- Olga Korbut. She won three gold medals at the ’72 Munich Olympics, then a fourth at the ’76 Montreal Games. But it was the tiny Soviet’s standing reverse flip on the uneven parallel bars in ’72—never before executed in Olympic competition—that had everyone talking.
- Ludmilla Tourischeva. Overshadowed at the ’72 Olympics by teammate Olga Korbut, Ludmilla Tourischeva was the heart-and-soul of the gold medal winning Soviet team that year. Earning a total of four gold medals in three separate Games (’68, ’72, ’76), she ranks among the greatest Olympic gymnasts of all time.
- Nellie Kim. While Nadia Comaneci was getting all the attention at the ’76 Games, Nellie Kim was doing okay for herself. With three gold medals and a silver in Montreal and a career total of five Olympic gold, the Soviet ranks among the best gymnastic gold medalists of all time.
- Boris Shakhlin. This Soviet took home four gold medals from the 1960 Rome Games and finished his Olympic career with seven gold and thirteen total medals earning Boris Shakhlin a spot on our list of the ten best gymnastic gold medalists of all time.
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