Women in Sports: Gymnastics

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  • The first women's gymnastics instruction in the United States was given at Mount Holyoke College in 1862.
  • Olympic gymnastics competition for women was introduced at the 1928 games.
  • Larissa Latynina of Russia won 18 Olympic gymnastic medals, thus setting an Olympics record for women: nine gold medals, five silver, and four bronze between 1956 and 1964.
  • Marcia Frederick was the first American woman to win the World Gymnastics Championship. She won in 1978 on the uneven bars.
  • Olga Korbut of the Soviet Union inspired thousands of girls to take up gymnastics after she won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 1972 Olympics. She was later named Female Athlete of the Year.
  • In the 1976 Olympics, Nadia Comaneci of Romania became the first gymnast in Olympic history to score a perfect 10.0. She did this on the uneven bars. She went on to record six more perfect scores during those Olympics.
  • In 1984, 16-year-old Mary Lou Retton of West Virginia won the Olympic gold medal in the Women's All-Around event, thanks to her perfect performance on the vault. She was the first American to win that event.
  • Shannon Miller is now the most decorated female American gymnast of all time. She has seven Olympic medals altogether, two gold, two silver, and three bronze. Only three American women, swimmers Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres, and Shirley Babashoff, have more Olympic medals.
  • Kerri Strug provided us with one of the most exciting events of the 1996 Olympics and gymnastics history when she nailed her vault on an injured foot to insure the gold medal for the United States team. Strug was just one member of the gold medal winning team that is known as the “Magnificent Seven.” The others are Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, and Jaycee Phelps.
  • In the 2004 Olympics, 16-year-old Carly Patterson of Texas became the second American ever to win the Women's All-Around event. She was the first to do so in a year when the Olympics weren't being boycotted by other countries. Patterson retired from gymnastics in 2006 due to lower back problems and a desire to become a recording artist. Her first single, "Temporary Live/Ordinary Girl," will be released March 25, 2008.
  • At the 2012 London Olympics, the American women's gymnastics team won its second gold medal ever, with Gabby Douglas leading the U.S. to a 183.596 score; Russia finishes second with 178.503 for the silver; Romania wins the bronze with 176.414.
Kerri Strug, after Olympic injury
Kerri Strug
AP Photos

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