Friday, 10 April 2009

Winner of the Poll for Best All Around European Gymnast is: Lilia Podkopayeva

Lilia Podkopayeva was born on August 15, 1978 in Donetsk, Ukraine. who became the 1996 Olympic all-around champion. In early 1996, Podkopayeva was seriously injured when she fell from the beam in practice, breaking one rib and fracturing another. She recovered sufficiently to win three gold medals at the 1996 European Championships in the all-around, bars and floor finals. In the all-around, Lilia pushed her childhood idol Svetlana Boginskaya into second place. She also won a bronze on the vault. At the 1996 OLympics in Atlanta she won the gold medal in the all-around final. In doing this Podkopayeva also became the first female gymnast since Tourischeva to hold the European, World, and Olympic all-around titles at the same time. She also became the first, and to date, only, Olympic all-around champion to come from a team that finished outside the medals.
Below are here Vault (the Podkopayeva) and Floor routines from the All Around at the 1996 European Championships:

Podkoypayeva was often referred to as the "complete package" gymnast, possessing equal qualities of technical skill and artistic expression. Her routines were known for their combination of balletic, expressive choreography, clean execution, impeccable form and extremely difficult skills. She was the originator of two skills: the Podkopayeva vault and a double front half-out salto on the floor exercise. The montage below by AshleyakaFlicker highlights her best qualities:

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