Unsung Heroes: Tatiana Groshkova & Aleftina Priakhina

March 1st, 2011 by Gymbit

For every Boginskaya and Shushunova out there winning World and Olympic medals, there was another talented gymnast toiling away the Soviet Union. With only 6 spots up for grabs each year, many excellent gymnasts never had a chance to display their skills on the world stage as a result of the extreme depth on the Soviet team in the 1980s. If given half a chance they, too, could have earned accolades and changed the history of the sport.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, many gymnasts who would have formerly been on the bubble were able to compete for their respective republics at the World Championships the following year. Interesting gymnasts such as Lyudmila Stovbchataya (UKR), the Yulia Yurkina (BLR) and Irina Yevdokimova (KAZ) were some of the 18 ex-Soviet female gymnasts competing in Birmingham.

Here are some of the top-notch performers who sadly never wore the Soviet flag at a World Championships or an Olympic Games:


1990 USA vs USSR, Balance Beam

The press handstand mount, the full-twisting back, the sideways backhandspring to Yurchenko loop, a full-in dismount, the flower leo and yarn…what more can a gym fan ask for?!

1989 Chunichi Cup, Floor Exercise

Don’t miss the double full-in first pass! She and Alexis Brion remain the only ladies to ever compete this skill.


1986 Chunichi Cup, Floor Exercise

Although the skill bears the name of Daniela Silivas (ROM) in the Code of Points, Priakhina was in fact the first gymnast to perform the double-double on floor.

1987 USSR Display, Uneven Bars

Check out how close together the bars are set!


1988 Chunichi Cup

1988 USSR vs CHN, UNeven Bars


1986 Kraft Invitational, Floor Exercise

My favourite floor routine of all time!


1990 Dutch Open, Floor Exercise

1990 Dutch Open, Uneven Bars


1985 Medico Cup, Floor Exercise

Barutyan, owner of a fantastic planche on beam, was rumoured to be training a double layout dismount of that apparatus!

Which other amazing gymnasts do you think could have won titles and been stars if given a chance to compete at a Worlds or Olympics?

7 Responses to “Unsung Heroes: Tatiana Groshkova & Aleftina Priakhina”

  1. Calítoe.:. (Cristina MJ) Says:

    You named some of my favourite soviets ever: Priakhina and Groshkova definitely deserved so much more…

    Great blog, by the way, I think I didn’t know it, can that be possible? Sorry about that. I’ve just put your feed in my gymnastics feed collector: http://www.netvibes.com/gimnastasnet#English I hope you don’t mind. Keep up the great job. 😀

  2. RJL Says:

    Wow, really hard to believe these were only Soviet B-team gymnasts. I wish today’s routines still had the artistry that these gymnasts showed.

  3. mxhxjmkfgk Says:

    Groshkova and Pryakhina are two of my favourites. Do you know what happened to them? When and why did Pryaknina retired?

  4. Anon Says:

    Regarding the double twisting double somersault on the floor, I had read rumours that Tatiana Kim may have done one in 1982 and Elena Gurova as well in 1985. Whether or not that’s true though, I couldn’t possibly say.

  5. jsmukg Says:

    Does anyone know where the brilliant Groshkova is now?
    By the way, nothing about Groshkova was ‘B-team.’ She was a similar talent to Vanessa Atler–overwhelmingly magnificent–and met a similar fate at the hands of the morons who prefer mediocre ‘consistency.’

  6. jsmukg Says:

    Priakhina–what a loss and what a waste. I know she had a growth spurt, but, for crissake, Bogey was 5’4”….

  7. Cindy Cioffi Says:

    Fabulously talented, “Olga Chudina,”super talent…I saw her perform, she took my breath away..I also had the good fortune to meet her..she is a wonderful person..i miss her very much…she is also blessed w/wisdom..if one ever sees Olga, please tell her to e-mail me. Would love to see her again..we loved the New England beaches and the warm sun..and would take long walk together..i enjoyed her stories of her accomplishments and her beautiful face (to match her heart)..sheeven tried teaching me Russian…one of the best friends I ever had..wherever you are Olga Chudina, I wish you God’s Blessings and happiness..
    Love, Cindy..muss Olga always

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