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In an era defined by Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci, Annelore Zinke seemed to combine the best traits of both gymnasts. Zinke crashed onto the gymnastics scene at the 1974 World Championships where she won the gold medal on uneven bars. At 15 years of age, Zinke became the youngest gold medalist in women’s gymnastics up until that point in time. Zinke was also the first gymnast from outside the Soviet Union to perform a Korbut Flip.
Several months later Zinke finished third in the All-Around at the 1975 European Championships finishing behind only Nadia and Nellie Kim. After that performance Zinke seemed poised to be a star at the upcoming 1976 Olympics, but a training accident one month later which she dislocated both of her elbows would effectively end her career. Zinke continued to train, but could not longer compete at an elite level. Not wanting to acknowledge that they had lost their top gymnast to a catastrophic injury, the East German press was barred from talking about Zinke.
With limited success in domestic competition, Zinke’s entire career comes down to just two competitions held only six months apart. Zinke’s time as a first rate gymnast was the shortest of any athlete gymnastics history. Yet in those two competitions she was brilliant. It begs the question of what else Zinke could have accomplished had she been given more time?
World Championships & Olympic Competition:
Schwerin International: 2nd-AA
GDR Championships: 4th-AA
European Championships: 3rd-AA, 5th-VT (T), 2nd-UB, 5th-BB, 6th-FX
GDR Cup: 4th-AA
Leipzig International: 1st-UB
GDR-HUN Dual Meet: 2nd-AA
GDR-FRG Dual Meet: 2nd-AA
GDR Championships: 6th-FX
Results are taken from Score for Score, The Gymternet, GymnasticGreats, My Meet Scores, Gymn-Forum, the official websites of various national gymnastics federations, newspaper clippings, classic gymnastics magazines, and in some cases, were provided by the gymnasts themselves. An explanation for the meaning of these symbols can be found here.