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Eva Bosakova is my personal selection for the most underrated gymnast in all of WAG history. She ranks as the 7th most decorated gymnast at the World Championships, which is a notable accomplishment in itself. Except that Bosakova did it while competing in an era where the World Championships were held just once every four years, as opposed to the modern scheduling format where they are held 3x every four years.
Of the six gymnasts who have more medals at the World Championships than Bosakova, all except for Larissa Latynina competed in the 1990s or later. Eva Bosakova won eight individual medals at the World Championships during her career. For comparison Larissa Latynina won ten. But that doesn’t include the medals Bosakova almost won. She finished in 4th place on six different occasions at the World Championships. Nearly 60 years after her retirement, Bosakova remains the record holder for the most 4th place finishes in all of WAG history.
But Bosakova’s true legacy goes beyond the medals she won. Bosakova introduced the cartwheel on beam. At the time the skill was revolutionary and a groundbreaking moment for the sport. Before Bosakova, eponymous skills weren’t a core component of WAG and gymnasts were rarely championed for their acrobatic innovations. Bosakova made that the norm and laid the very first path in the road that would eventually lead to innovations such as the Korbut Flip and Yurchenko-style vaults.
Despite all her accomplishment, the institutions that are tasked with remembering legends of the past haven’t done much to promote the legacy of Eva Bosakova. She is not a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Her FIG profile page is almost completely empty listing only her nationality, name, and birth year. But Bosakova’s listed birth year is incorrect, by 19 years! With these details in mind, it is not surprising that so many gymnastics fans have never heard of Eva Bosakova.
World Championships & Olympic Competition:
Olympic Games: 3rd Team, 14th AA
World Youth Festival: 3rd Team, 13th AA
World Championships: 3rd Team, 2nd AA, 4th UB, 2nd BB, 2nd FX
TCH-HUN Dual Meet: 1st-AA
Leningrad International: 5th-AA
Czechoslovakia Spartakiade: 2nd AA
Warsaw Festival: 2nd Team, 10th AA
Kiev International: 4th AA, 4th-VT, 4th-UB, 1st-FX
Olympic Games: 5th Team, 4th UB, 2nd BB, 5th FX
European Championships: 7th AA, 3rd UB, 3rd FX
Moscow Summer Sports Games: 6th Team, 6th AA
Warsaw International: 1st AA
Czechoslovakian Championships: 1st AA
World Championships: 2nd Team, 2nd AA, 2nd UB, 4th BB, 1st FX
Bucharest International: 3rd AA
European Championships: 5th AA, 4th BB, 3rd FX
Moscow Friendly: 3rd-AA
Czechoslovakia Spartakiade: 2nd BB, 3rd UB
Olympic Games: 2nd Team, 10th AA, 1st BB, 4th FX
European Championships: 10th AA, 5th BB
Czechoslovakian Championships: 4th AA
World Championships: 2nd Team, 4th AA, 2nd UB, 1st BB, 4th 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.