Gymnastics History: Olympic Champions – WAG Vault

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This is the first post in our new series “Gymnastics History: Olympic Champions”. Over the coming months we will be looking back at former Olympic Champions and also a chance to see how our sport has developed over the years. Every Friday in the lead up to the Olympics in July, Full Twist will post a new article in this series. We will begin this series with the Women’s Vault Champions of Olympics past. Where possible we have included results,scores and videos where available.

Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games

  1. Ekaterina Kalintshuk (URS)
  2. Maria Gorokhovskaya (URS)
  3. Galina Minaitsheva (URS)

Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games

  1. Larissa Laytnina (URS) 18.838
  2. Tamara Manina (URS) 18.799
  3. Ann – Sofi Colling (SWE) 18.733

Rome 1960 Olympic Games

  1. Margarita Nicolaeva (URS)
  2. Sofia Mouratova (URS)
  3. Larissa Latynina (URS)
Mexico 1968 Olympic Games

  1. Vera Caslavska (TCH)
  2. Erika Zuchold (GDR)
  3. Zinaida Voronina (URS)

Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games

1. Vera Caslavska (TCH) 19.483

2. Birgit Radochla (GDR) 19.283

2. Larissa Latynina (URS) 19.283

Munich 1972 Olympic Games 

  1. Karin Janz (GDR) 19.525
  2. Erika Zuchold (GDR) 19.275
  3. Ludmilla Tursicheva  (UKR) 19.250

Montreal 1976 Olympic Games

1. Nellie Kim (URS) 19.800

2. Carola Dombeck (GDR) 19.650

2. Ludmila Turischeva (URS) 19.650

Moscow 1980 Olympic Games

  1. Natalia Shaposhnikova (URS) 19.725
  2. Steffi Kraker (GDR) 19.675
  3. Melita Ruhn (ROM) 19.650
Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games

  1. Ecaterina Szabo (ROM) 19.875
  2. Mary Lou Retton (USA) 19.850
  3. Lavinia Agache (ROM) 19.750
Seoul 1988 Olympic Games

  1. Svetlana Boginskaya (URS) 19.905
  2. Gabriela Potorac (ROM) 19.830
  3. Daniela Silivas (ROM) 19.818
Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games

1. Henrietta Onodi (HUN) 9.925
1. Lavinia Milosvici (ROM) 9.925
3. Tatiana Lisenko (EUN) 9.912
Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games

  1. Simona Amanar (ROM) 9.825
  2. Mo Huilan (CHN) 9.768
  3. Gina Gogean (ROM) 9.750
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

  1. Elena Zamolodchikova (RUS) 9.731
  2. Andreea Raducan (ROM) 9.693
  3. Ekaterina Lobazniouk (RUS) 9.674
Problems at the Sydney 2000 Olympics called for a look into the mechanics of the Vaulting Horse.  A number of crashes occurred when the height of the Horse was not correctly set.  Elise Ray missed her hands in warm-ups and Svetlana Khorkina’s timing was completely off.  The error was then discovered and the vault height reset. Alanna Slater of Australia who first noticed the incorrect vault setting, showed very poor technique and form. Liu Xuan of China performed an under rotated Yurchenko 1.5 and was lucky not to have caused herself a knee injury. Brooke Walker of Australia did the opposite and over rotated her vault. Overall it appeared to be a huge problem with hand placements.


Following the 2000 problems, the FIG re-evaluated and changed the apparatus, citing both safety reasons and the desire to facilitate more impressive vaults.The 2001 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships were the first international competition to make use of the “vaulting table”.  It now features a flat, larger, and more cushioned surface almost parallel to the floor, which slopes downward at the end closest to the springboard.

Athens 2004 Olympic Games

  1. Monica Rosu (ROM) 9.656
  2. Annia Hatch (USA) 9.481
  3. Anna Pavlova (RUS) 9.475
In 2006, the Code of Point (CoP) and the entire gymnastics scoring system were completely overhauled. The change stemmed from the judging controversy at 2004 Olympics in Athens, which brought the reliability and objectivity of the scoring system into question, and arguments that execution had been sacrificed for difficulty in artistic gymnastics. The well known “Perfect 10″ was abolished, leaving many coaches and gymnasts furious. With the new CoP, it is often  thought that the Code chooses the winners before they even perform.
Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

  1. Jong Un Hong (PRK) 15.650
  2. Oksana Chusovitina (GER) 15.575
  3. Cheng Fei (CHN) 15.562
Interesting, post Beijing 2008 the Romanians had been quite successful on Vault, earning 10 Olympic medals between 1980 and 2000. How times have changed.
With the 2012 Summer Olympics rapidly who approaching, who do you think will be our 2012 Olympic Champion?  McKayla Maroney? Alicia Sacramone? Oksana Chusovitina?  Anyone else? Leave a comment below.

30 Comments

  1. Gloria Viseras says:

    I think the best vaulter at the moment is, without a question, McKayla Maroney … But the winner will be the one who hits!

  2. Gloria Viseras says:

    BTW
    I love these kinds of posts where you can see the evolution of the events through the years. Will you make similar ones for the other events?
    Thank you

  3. Admin says:

    Thank you for your comment Gloria! We plan to cover every apparatus for both MAG and WAG :)

  4. Joe says:

    I don’t think McKayla or Alicia will be on the Olympic team.

  5. Kath says:

    Interesting comment Joe. I think McKayla has a chance of being on the Olympic team because she consistently scores a few tenths higher than any other American. She could also be used on all events in qualifications, and possibly floor in finals. So, I vote for McKayla as vault champion :)

  6. Isadora Córdova says:

    I think that if Maroney would make the US Olympic Team, she would be the vault champion… But unfortunately I don’t think that she will be on the team…

  7. James says:

    how can they not use Maroney?

  8. Kristi says:

    Maroney has such gorgeous form and beautiful flight. She just looks artistic and great on all events. It helps that she has upgraded all her events, also, to eek out those extra tenths. I predict she will be on the Olympic team.

  9. Holly- LA says:

    Great post!! I agree with Gloria- really interesting to see the evolution of the sport regarding a specific event. Would love to see more posts like this. (Random thought- I wish we could see past Olympics in HD haha….wouldn’t that be nice.)

    I think Maroney probably deserves to be the winner, IF she is on the team. The new 5 member team format is brutal and favors more all around gymnasts vs. specialists. USA is strong on vault with several Amanars….but they need a bars specialist also. I’m really interested to see who actually makes this team. I’ll be at the trials in San Jose in June…..can’t wait!

  10. Ca says:

    This is really good piece! Looking forward to the remaining articles!

    Btw, on the last paragraph, do you mean to say “pre” Beijing?

  11. Powertumbler says:

    Excellent piece !

    But just to mention that at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the problem with horse height only occured in the AA. Brooke Walker and Alanna Slater had (really) disastrous vaults in the qualifying rounds where the height was right. So the conditions were correct during qualification and event final.

  12. Joe says:

    If Maroney and Sacramone make the US team, Maroney will be Vault champion. If only Sacramone makes the US team, she will be Vault champion. If neither make it, Sandra Izbasa or Chuso will be Vault champion. It really depends on who the US sends.

  13. Laura Anne says:

    Again, I think Vault could a number of people. Lots of them don’t show their strongest vaults until the Olympic finals. Sacramone missed out because the 3 gymnasts ahead of her on the day performed much more difficult vaults in final than on qualification.

    Maroney is looking good – she is from AOGC who produce gymnasts with excellent execution. She has worked on a lot of difficulty behind the scenes that we’ve not seen yet and if she can hit all her difficulty consistently at both visas and olympic trials, she will likely make the USA team. Plus don’t forget they took Annia Hatch in 2004 JUST for Vault. Maroney can give an excellent performance on floor as well as VT.

    Others – Sandra Izbasa, Chusovitina (I can’t see her winning unless she improves execution, but definite potential to medal), Phan (I’ve heard she has upped her difficulty since winning Bronze at Worlds), Sacramone (if she makes the team).

  14. Benjamin says:

    McKayla Maroneys good but Cheng Fei is trying to come back this year and rumor has it Hong Un Jong can do a Yurchenko tripple twist wow!

  15. Admin says:

    So no Cheng Fei in the vault final for sure! Or Jade barbosa

  16. Ion ion says:

    Sandra izbasa from romania is the winner

  17. samurai says:

    Was it just me, or were Sandra Izbasa’s vaults truly hideous? The form and the landings were terrible (I think I actually saw a tuck in one of her vaults to pull it around?!). When vaults of such low quality win because they had high start values, is this really a celebration of the best? That had to be the worst Olympic Vault finals ever.

  18. AA says:

    The 2008 Gold medallist is Un Jong Hong, not Jong Un Hong. Un Jong is her first name and Hong is her family name.

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