21 Legendary Gymnasts Who Ruled the Mat

Let’s celebrate 21 of the most talented and groundbreaking female gymnasts that have ever competed:

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1. Simone Biles

The GOAT, Simone Biles dominates with her unprecedented power, courage and skills, owning Olympic and World Championship golds.

2. Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Comaneci earned the first Olympic perfect 10 score in 1976 at just 14, ushering in a new era of technical brilliance.

3. Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller’s seven Olympic medals makes her the most decorated American gymnast with a long list of World and National titles.

4. Larisa Latynina

Soviet great Larisa Latynina held the most Olympic medals for 48 years until dethroned by Michael Phelps.

5. Svetlana Khorkina

Svetlana Khorkina reigned over the late 90s and early 2000s, earning seven Olympic medals and twenty World Championship medals.

6. Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton became America’s darling after her 1984 Olympic All-Around gold, popularizing women’s gymnastics on TV.

7. Vera Caslavska

Revolutionary Vera Caslavska brought ballet-like grace to her routines, earning seven combined Olympic golds for Czechoslovakia.

8. Oksana Chusovitina

Oksana Chusovitina holds the record for most Olympic appearances, an incredible eight between 1992 and 2021.

9. Agnes Keleti

Trailblazer Agnes Keleti remarkably won 10 Olympic medals in gymnastics representing Hungary in the 1950s.

10. Li Li

China’s Li Li overcame poverty to compete internationally, winning the World Champion All-Around title in ahistoric 1979 meet.

11. Larisa Petrik

Soviet champion Larisa Petrik’s two Olympic All-Around golds and 19 total World and Olympic medals make her a titan of the 1970s.

12. Polina Astakhova

Polina Astakhova was the USSR’s first great gymnast, earning 10 total Olympic and World Championship medals from 1956 to 1960.

13. Olga Korbut

Olga Korbut brought acrobatic innovation to the 1972 Olympics, earning four golds and single-handedly redefining the sport.

14. Daniela Silivas

Romania’s Daniela Silivas patented impossible skills in the 1980s like the triple-twist dismount that still bear her name.

15. Kim Zmeskal

Kim Zmeskal led America’s early 1990s gymnastics dominance, becoming World Champion in 1991.

16. Kyla Ross

Kyla Ross helped the US team win a gold in 2012 before becoming an NCAA standout for UCLA.

17. Shawn Johnson

The bubbly Shawn Johnson brought power and an approachable style capped by her 2008 Olympic All-Around silver.

18. Dominique Moceanu

Dominique Moceanu’s bold routines culminating in 1996 Olympic gold made her a fan favorite.

19. Lilia Podkopayeva

Ukraine’s Lilia Podkopayeva won the 1996 Olympic All-Around over American favorites, showcasing exquisite lines.

20. Vera Caslavska

Revolutionary Vera Caslavska brought ballet-like grace to her routines, earning seven combined Olympic golds for Czechoslovakia.

21. Aly Raisman

Leader Aly Raisman shone during the US’ back-to-back Olympic reigns in 2012 and 2016 with her confidence, polish and focus.

Pushing the Limits of the Possible

These gymnasts all show that with talent, determination and tremendous athleticism, women can achieve the impossible in sports. They’ve inspired generations to flip fearlessly.

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