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Olga Mostepanova first captured the attention of fans everywhere with her appearance at a pair of competitions held on British soil in 1980. The young Mostepanova did not win, but had kept pace with gymnasts who were part of the Moscow Olympics. The world was staggered that a gymnast as young as 12 years old could perform so well alongside established veterans.
While gymnastics fans everywhere were losing their minds over the next Soviet whiz-kid, the Soviets themselves were privately snickering at the reaction. It would later be revealed that Mostepanova’s age had been falsified and she was actually a ten year old! By 1983 Mostepanova was showing promise with a silver medal in the AA at the World Championships that year. After the gymnast who finished ahead of her that year was injured in competition, Olga Mostepanova was effectively the top ranked gymnast heading into the 1984 Olympics.
But Mostepanova would not get the chance to compete in Los Angeles due to the 1984 boycott. Instead Mostepanova would have to settle for the alternate Olympics where she scored 12 Perfect-10s and achieved the highly coveted “Perfect-40,” a Perfect-10 on every event. It is widely considered one of the greatest performances in gymnastics history.
To add insult to injury, Mostepanova’s trademark move was not entered into the Code of Points under her name. It was instead credited to Henrietta Onodi. Mostepanova’s career ended unceremoniously when she was pulled from the 1985 World Championships to be replaced by a younger gymnast. Despite being robbed at every turn and denied the opportunity to have an official legacy, gymnastics fans have seemed fit to make sure she has one by continuing to hold her in high regard. Remembering the story of the best that never was.
World Championships & Olympic Competition:
Junior Friendship Tournament: 1st Team, 5th AA
Jr. USSR-ITA Dual Meet: 1st Team, 4th AA
Champions All: 3rd AA
Coca Cola International: 1st FX, 3rd B, 4th AA
Jr. USSR Championships: 4th AA, 3rd B
Jr. USSR Cup: 2nd AA, 1st B
All-Union Championships of Specialized Sports Schools: 1st AA
Jr. Friendship Tournament (Druzhba): 1st Team, 3rd AA, 1st V, 1st UB, 4th FX
Jr. GDR-USSR Dual Meet: 2nd AA
Schoolchildren’s Spartakiade: 1st Team, 5th AA, 5th UB, 5th FX
Jr. European Championships: 1st B, 2nd V, 3rd AA, 7th UB
Riga International: 1st AA
USA-USSR Dual Meet: 1st Team, 4th AA
USSR Championships: 3rd AA, 2nd UB, 2nd FX, 3rd V, 3rd B
USSR Cup: 3rd AA, 2nd B, 3rd UB, 5th V
Moscow News: 3rd AA, 3rd B
Moscow Spartakiade: 1st AA, 1st V, 1st B
USA-USSR Dual Meet: 1st Team, 2nd AA
USSR Championships: 8th AA, 2nd UB
USSR Cup: 2nd AA, 1st UB, 1st B, 7th V
World Championships: 1st Team, 1st B, 2nd AA, 2nd FX
CSSR Spartakiade (Olomouc): 1st Team, 1st AA, 1st V, 1st B, 1st FX
USSR Championships: 2nd AA, 1st V, 1st B, 3rd UB, 4th FX
USSR Cup: 1st AA
USSR Championships: 6th UB, 7th FX
USSR Cup: 8th AA
World Championships: 1st Team