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Maria Filatova was part of a famed class of Soviet juniors alongside Olga Koval, Natalia Shaposhnikova, and Elena Davydova that were dubbed the “New Wave.” Filatova was the first member of the quartet to achieve breakout success and the one most likely to make the 1976 Olympic team.
In a controversial decision, all four members of the New Wave were left off the Olympic team with Maria Filatova being named as the alternate. However, on the same day Maria Filatova celebrated her 15th birthday, she was elevated to the starting lineup and won a gold medal over the course of a 2-day team event. She is officially listed in the Olympic database as having won her medal at the age of 14 years and 365 days.
Maria Filatova was widely known for her small physical appearance and was said to be the smallest athlete at the 1976 Olympics. She was known to incorporate childhood themes into her choreography on floor and pioneered “tantrum choreography,” which would be used frequently by gymnasts in the 1980s and early 1990s. Filatova was also known for her kindness having once given a leotard to a foreign gymnast whose luggage had been lost by the airline. She famously embraced Olga Bicherova after losing a close AA battle in the final competition of her career.
Filatova is a 2x Olympian, was named to five different Soviet teams, and won back-to-back AA titles at the World Cup. She has an AA medal at the University Games, World Championships, World Cup, and European Championships. Maria Filatova was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2019.
Olympics & World Championships:
Chunichi Cup: 5th-AA
USSR Championships: 3rd-BB
World Cup 1st-AA, 2nd-VT, 2nd-UB, 1st-FX
European Championships: 3rd-BB, 1st-FX
USSR Championships: 1st-AA, 1st-BB 2nd-FX
World Cup: 1st-AA, 1st-FX
World Championships: 1st-Team
USSR Championships: 1st-BB, 1st-FX
USSR Cup: 1st-AA
World Championships: 2nd-Team
University Games: 1st-Team, 2nd-AA, 1st-VT, 1st-UB, 1st-FX
USSR Championships: 2nd-AA, 2nd-BB
Olympics: 1st-Team, 3rd-UB
World Cup: 2nd-BB
University Games: 2nd-Team
World Championships: 1st-Team, 2nd-AA
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.