The best gymnasts ever in the history of the sport hone talents that very few people can master. Even mainstream athletes would struggle to master the basic moves a world class gymnast can pull off. One of the staples of the summer Olympic games, a gymnastics competition thrills audiences as competitors pull off one breathtaking move after the next.
- Nadia Comaneci In 1976, Nadia Comaneci was the first Olympian gymnast to score a perfect score of 10.0. She was only fourteen years old at the time, becoming the youngest gold medalist ever. By the time she retired in 1981, she won five gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal.
- Olga Korbut Olga Korbut is the first individual on the uneven bars to perform a back flip to catch. The move is now named after her, known as the Korbut Flip. She won four gold medals and two silver medals throughout her career.
- Sawao Kato Gymnast Sawao Kato participated in three different Olympics games. In 1968, he helped Japan win half the gold medals awarded in individual competition, taking three for himself. He added five more gold medals in the next two games to bring his total to twelve medals, eight of them gold.
- Larissa Latynina From 1956 to 1964, gymnast Larissa Latynina won a record eighteen Olympic medals, dominating the sport. The Soviet gymnast won the gold in the all-around event in 1956. She followed this in 1960, winning six more medals. She is the only athlete in any sport to hold eighteen Olympic medals.
- Bart Conner Bart Conner was part of the men’s gymnastics team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics games. He also added an individual gold on the parallel bars, where he scored a perfect ten. Conner is also famous for marrying another gymnast on this list, Nadia Comaneci.
- Mary Lou Retton Gymnast Mary Lou Retton captured the attention of the nation when she won the gold medal in the individual all-round in the 1984 Olympics. In one of the most exciting Olympics stories, Retton battled Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo in the 1984 games and scored a perfect ten in the vault to take the gold.
- Shannon Miller Shannon Miller won more medals than any other American gymnast in history. She holds seven Olympic medals, two of them gold. In 1996, she became the first American gymnast to win a gold medal on the balance beam. Miller also holds nine world championship medals, 59 international medals and 49 national medals.
- Dominique Dawes In the 1996 Olympics, Dominique Dawes became the first African-American gymnast to win an individual event medal. She also won the gold in team gynastics in 1996. She won a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympic trials and has won more national championships than any other athlete since 1963 with fifteen championships.
- Vera Caslavska Czechoslovakian gymnast Vera Caslavska was fighting for her country’s pride in 1964. Two months before she competed in the games, Russian tanks rolled into her homeland. Caslavska responded by winning three gold medals, defeating Soviet gymnasts to do so. She had to go into hiding and fought for the right to represent her country in the 1968 games, where she won four more gold medals.
- Kurt Thomas Two gymnastic moves bear the name of American gymnast Kurt Thomas. The Thomas Flair, a pommel horse move, and the Tomas salto, his signature skill on the floor exercise, honor his accomplishments as a gymnast. Thomas won three gold medals in World Championships but was unable to capture any Olympic medals while at the height of his career because of the United States boycott of the 1980 summer Olympics.
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