Returning Olympians: Women’s


Here we take a look at those gymnasts for whom London 2012 is not their Olympic Games, for some this is their second Olympics, for others their sixth. There are over twenty gymnasts confirmed for London who will be competing in another Olympic Games. Let’s take a look at some of the Olympic “veterans”. Please note that not all gymnasts who have competed in more than one Olympic Games have been listed.

Germany – Oksana Chusovitina 

Oksana is a magnificent woman, at 36 she already has five Olympic Games to her name. The mother of two is also only one of two gymnasts to compete at the Olympics under three different national teams: the Unified Team in 1992; Uzbekistan in 1996, 2000 and 2004; and Germany in 2008. She will continue to compete for Germany at this year Olympic Games. Only nine months after giving birth to her first child, Chuso competed in the 2000 Sydney Games.  In terms of Olympic medals, she holds 2, a gold for the Team event with the Unified Team in Barcelona in 1992 and a silver medal on Vault for Germany in 2008.

Romania – Catalina Ponor & Sandra Izbasa

Both gymnasts will make their second Olympic outing in London this summer. Ponor first competed in Athens in 2004, winning gold on both  Beam and Floor. The Romanian team also took gold at the 2004 Olympics.  Four years later in Beijing, Izbasa won the floor title ahead of Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. In 2008 the Romanian team took bronze in the team final competition.

China – He Kexin & Deng Linlin

Both gymnasts will compete at their second Olympics in London. During and after the Beijing Games in 2008, He’s age was of concern to many who questioned if was she old enough and eligible to compete in the Games.  Her passport and the Chinese Olympic Committee listed her date of birth as January 1, 1992, which would have made her 16 years, 220 days old during the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies and therefore old enough to compete.  The FIG held an emergency meeting about the age situation on August 23rd 2008 and requested additional documentation for every gymnast on the Chinese team, with the sole exception of team captain Cheng Fei.  On October 1st, 2008, the FIG concluded their investigation, finding that He and the Olympic team were old enough to compete. He Kexin claimed gold on the Uneven Bars over Nastia Liukin who had tied with the same score, but as per tie breaking rules, He was awarded the gold.

Both He and Deng Linlin were part of the 2008 Women’s team who triumphed to the gold medal in their own country.  Deng Linlin ranked ninth in the AA qualification competition, not advancing to the finals due to the two per country rule.

Australia – Lauren Mitchell, Georgia Bonora & Ashleigh Brennan

These three Australian girls will compete in their second Olympic Games together, making up the majority of Australia’s 2012 Team. In 2008 Georgia Bonora ranked highest of these three girls in the All Around competition, placing 18th, with Ashleigh Brennan in  30th and Mitchell 69th . Bonora placed 13th in the All Around final out of 24 competitors.

Great Britain – Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan and Imogen Cairns

Tweddle, Whelan and Cairns all competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the first for the two latter and the second Games for Tweddle. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, Tweddle placed eleventh in the team event and nineteenth in the All Around competition. Placing 13th in the Uneven Bars qualification, she became a reserve for the Olympic finals.

At the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Tweddle no longer competed All Around. Hannah Whelan placed 78th in the AA qualification, with Cairns placing 33rd.  At these Games, it was Becky Downie who made it through to the AA final, placing 12th. Leaving many confused as to why she has been left off the 2012 team. Tweddle advanced to the Uneven Bars final, placing fourth behind Yang Yilin.

Japan – Koko Tsurumi, Yu Minobe & Yuko Shintake

Like the British and Australian’s listed above, these three girls make up the  majority of the Japanese London 2012 team. In Beijing, the Japanese team placed eight in the team qualification and fifth in the team final. Tsurumi ranked 13th in the AA final, the only gymnast of these three to make the final. Team mate Kyoko Oshima also competed in the AA final. Tsurumi was also the only Japanese female gymnast to make an event final, placing last on beam of eight competitors.

Brazil – Daiane Santos & Daniele Hypolito

Whilst Brazil have not yet confirmed their full team for London we so know that Hypolito and Santos are in the “training squad which is soon to be decided. Should Hypolito be selected to compete, London will be her fourth Olympic Games, having previously competed in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Wow, for a girl who is only 27 that is a lot. In 2000 she  qualified for the all-around final, finishing in 20th place. She improved again in 2004 helping the Brazlian team place ninth in the team qualification and placing 12th in the all-around. She did not compete AA in 2008 but helped Brazil to qualify to eighth place in the team finals. She did not make any event finals in 2008.

If  selected, she will be competing in her third Olympic Games. In Athens in 2004 she qualified for the floor final. During the routine, she debuted the Dos Santos II skill, a double Arabian in layout position. She overroated a tumbling pass and went out of bounds.  She placed fifth. Again in 2008 she made the floor final, with two out of bounds to her name, she placed 6th.

Belgium – Gaelle Mys

Gaelle Mys has been subbed in, pretty much last minute to replace Julie Crocket who tore her ACL last month. In 2008, qualified to the AA finals, placing last at 24th place. No event finals for Mys in 2008.

Czech Republic – Kristyna Palesova

Ccompeted at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where she qualified to the all-around finals and placed 21st. Palesova will be the only female gymnast from the Czech Republic to compete in London this year.

Croatia – Tina Erceg

Erceg is the first, and to date the only, female gymnast ever to represent independent Croatia at the Olympic Games. At the 2008 Olympics, she competed only in the team qualifying round, placing 13th on vault and 57th overall.

Russia – Ksenia Afanaseyva

Afanaseyva was part of the Beijing 2008 Russian team who placed fourth in the team final and will be the only Russian female gymnast going to London with Olympic experience. Despite placing sixth in the All Around qualification round, she did not compete in the AA final due to the two per country rule. She did however make the beam final, placing seventh.

Italy – Vanessa Ferrari

Whilst, like Brazil, Italy has not yet confirmed the exact names of the gymnasts who will compete in London, only a “training squad” or short list. Vanessa Ferrari is bound to make the team. She placed eleventh in the All Around final, the Italian team placed 10th in the Team qualification, not making the team final. There were not event final for Ferrari in Beijing.

Greece – Vasiliki Millousi

Made her Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics placing 55th in the AA qualification.

Make sure to check out our series which will be coming to a close this Friday:




  1. Igor Almeida says:

    I will point out two mistakes I found:

    1) On Chusovitina’s piece: she won gold with the unified team in 1992 and a silver on vault in 2008.
    2) On Afanasyeva’s piece: Russian team finished 4th in Beijing instead.

    Hope to have helped 😉

  2. Admin says:

    thank you – i entered the gold and silver in the wrong places for Chuso.

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