The original queen of the bars, Maxi Gnauck is the literal gold standard for dominance on the uneven bars. In her senior level debut at the 1979 World Championships she finished in third place. That was the only time she lost a bars final in her career. From the 1979 World Championships to the 1985 European Championships she was undefeated on the apparatus failing to medal only on occasions where she was unable to compete.
Maxi was also an efficient All-Arounder having finished 2nd in the AA on four different occasions, each time to a different Soviet gymnast. Every time Maxi looked poised to beat a Soviet gymnast in the AA something always seemed to go wrong. Most notably at the 1981 World Championships where she was the heavy favorite for a gold medal but scratched on floor exercise in qualifying. This knocked her out of floor finals and the AA, but Maxi proceeded to come back and win gold on the three remaining events.
Gnauck spent 1982 and 1983 attempting to overcome injury. In 1982 she had ankle surgery which left her out of top shape. She appeared to be fully recovered by 1983 only to dislocate her elbow and suffer a bone chip in a training session at the 1983 European Championships. Maxi won 27 medals in her career at the four major competitions. For comparison Nadia Comaneci has 28 medals and Nellie Kim has 29. But the “27 medals” figure doesn’t demonstrate the medals Maxi almost won. Maxi missed the 1984 Olympics due to a boycott and won five additional medals at the 1984 Alternate Olympics. She also finished in 4th place on seven different occasions, four of which came in top level competition (World Championships/Olympics).
Maxi gave the sport everything she had and didn’t quit until she was unable to overcome further injuries. Her longevity was impressive for an era where the average age of a high level gymnast was at its lowest point in WAG history. Her first and last gold medal at the European Championships came seven years apart, a staggering feat for the era. Maxi’s final competition occurred in signature Maxi fashion. She once again finished second in the AA to a Soviet, won a gold medal on the uneven bars, and finished in 4th place on all remaining events.
This bio page is still a work in progress. A list of her full results will eventually be added here.