Natalia Ilienko

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Olomouc:
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In her debut at the 1981 World Championships, Natalia Ilienko got off to a strong start. She was leading the AA standings after Day #1 of competition. But on Day #2 Natalia had a disastrous performance on both bars and beam. She fell to 6th place and was eliminated from the AA finals on country limits. Not only did this cost her a potential AA medal, but as the reigning European silver medalist on beam, she had legitimate prospects for a beam medal and lost that opportunity as well.

But Ilienko didn’t let that deter her from the one finals she did qualify for, floor exercise. She won the gold medal. Ilienko returned for the 1983 World Championships and also made the 1984 Soviet Olympic team. However she was denied the opportunity to be an Olympian due to the Soviet boycott of Los Angeles. Natalia retired from the sport shortly afterwards and is now a prominent coach in Great Britain.

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