Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sister Acts

Sporting activities are usually a family thing. My family were all swimmers or runners. My next door neighbors as kids were all playing netball or basketball. Then there are the gymnastics families, the Liukin's being the perfect example. But how rare is it for two people from the same family to really excel at a sport? Not that rare it seems! Here are just some of the siblings who have both had successful gymnastics careers.

The Khorkinas

Yulia Khorkina is of course the little sister of none other than the Queen Khorky- which must be a hard shadow to live in! She is three years younger than Sveta and possesses the same long lines and slender build as her sister. This may be why her coaches gave her very similar moves and routines as Sveta's. It is, however, quite disturbing to watch this similar-but-not gymnasts compete the same moves, but without the precision or presence of her older sister.
Yulia was supportive of her sister's career, even turning up to surprise Svetlana at the Sydney Olympic games, cheering her up after the disastrous all-around finals. They-in true Sveta style-went out and got haircuts and manicures as well as visiting Sydney aquarium with friends, helping Sveta shake off the horrors of day before and mentally prepare for the apparatus finals.
Yulia wasn't a bad gymnast herself, competing in Russian nationals and some international meets. At the 2004 WOGA classic, she competed against the likes of Monette Russo and Holly Vise and came eighth in the all-around. In fact, she performed her sister's floor routine of three years earlier. She told the press, "It's like everything when you have younger and older kids in the family. It's a hand-me-down." Well, I guess its better than getting your sister's ripped, out-of date jeans or her torn and wrinkled text books!
In 2005, when it was announced that Sveta was pregnant, she and Julia were in the U.S.A together, teaching young kids gymnastics pointers at various gymnastics schools.

The Hindermanns

Marie-Sophie Hindermann is one of Germany's most successful gymnasts of recent years. She is unusually tall for a gymnasts, taller even than Khorkina at 5'7. She had her first big success at the Junior European Championships in 2006 in Volos when she took silver in the vault and bronze in bars. Her little sister Giulia was placed on the German junior Euyropean training squad this year. Like her sister, she has very long legs and does great bar work, including stalder moves.

The Jouras

The talent doesn't end with Daria. Her little sister, Natalia is also beginning to be quite a successful gymnast, proving that growing up in a gym bodes really well for your career. While Dasha was winning the senior all-around in the 2008 National Championships in Melbourne, Natalia was busily winning the Level Ten International all-around as well as first on bars, second on floor and third on vault in event finals. With a bit of luck, we might see both the Jouras competing on the same team in the next few years

The Yurkinas.

Olga and Yulia Yurkina were the ultimate sister act, being identical twins. Born in 1979 on September 20th, they competed for Belarus in those first years when the independent states were formed and started going out on their own, giving more ex-Soviet gymnasts opportunities to make international teams. They began competing for Belarus in 1992 where they debuted at the European Championships, and both competed on a world team, before retiring in 1997. Olga had the more successful career, making it onto the 1996 Olympic team where Belarus placed 6th.

Over the years following their retirement, the girls began performing in shows in the United States together, including one at Sea World with Svetlana Baitova, before moving onto coaching careers. In true twin form, they wound up coaching at the same gym schools and both married Belorussian men (Olga was rumored to have dated Ivan Ivankov too!)

The Huci's

One of the saddest sister stories to come out of Romania is of course, the Huci story.
Ana Maria was already quite a successful young gymnast, when her sister Alexandra grew old enough to become obsessed with the idea of following in her footsteps. Their mother claimed she had to remove everything breakable from the family living room to keep it safe from the twisting and tumbling of the siblings.
When the older Ana Maria began training at Deva, Alexandra had to be physically removed from the training centre, so intent was she on being there herself. Her first coach, Lucia Musstat claimed that she saw the incredible talent and fierce determination in Alexandra from the outset. Alexandra eventually went to Deva where she began to compete more and more successfully until she became National Champion in her age group at age 11.
Sadly, Alexandra collapsed in training due to a congenital problem, lapsed into a coma and died days later in a Timisoara hospital. At this time, Ana Maria had already retired a year earlier, due to a back injury, but stayed on at Deva for her education. Because she was undertaking her exams, her parents did not tell her of Alexandra's condition until two days after she fell into the coma. Alexandra's funeral was left until the Saturday of the week she died, so poor Ana Maria could complete her exams and then attend her little sisters funeral.

The Mackies.

The Mackies are a truly gymnastic family. Both the parents were gymnasts. Older brother Owen competed at the Canadian Nationals twice. Then came Gael and Charlotte. Gael Mackie is one of Canada's most successful gymnasts, consistently competing well for Canada at a number of international and World Cup competitions. Gael then competed at the Athens Olympics and went on to a a collegiate career at the University of Utah. Her sister, Charlotte is following firmly in her footsteps, placing 1st all-around in a National novice competition just like her sister did. Charlotte then came 4th in the Canadian Junior Nationals and is looking to be in serious contention for 2012. Fingers crossed, with all the junior talent coming up in Canada, they will qualify a complete team too. Charlotte names Gael as one of her gymnastics idols.

Collegiate Siblings

Who knows? Maybe Charlotte will go on to a collegiate career too, continuing another gymnastics tradition maintained by the Schwikerts, Tasha and Jordan, and the Kupets, Ashley and Courtney. Courtney, the Olympian claims she only started doing gymnastics because she wanted to be just like her older sister, Ashley. The Schwikert sisters apparently began gymnastics when they collectively mutinied against their mother's attempts at teaching them tennis, running away from her to turn cartwheels. They claim never to have felt competitive with each other because of having often been in different age groups or levels in the sport.
Or perhaps they will be like the Russell sisters, where the younger, independent Miranda actually chose to attend a different college to Rehana, meaning they would be competing against each other at times. They grew up competing against each other, Rehana claims, saying that there family hobbies nearly always involved handstand competitions in the kitchen or dressing up in their leotards and making up routines in the backyard!!


  1. Thanks!

    A couple of others:

    Anna-Maria Tamarjan has a sister who trained with her until very recently, when she left the team.

    Two of the up-and-coming Russian juniors: Aliya and Nailya Mustafina.

  2. You forgot the Hamms! :D

  3. How about the Hong sisters from North Korea?

    They both specialize in the vault and both have been successful, winning Olympic gold and a World silver medal.

  4. Guys. Be cool! Thank you but I said some- not all of the siblings-at the start of this entry!

  5. I'm most looking forward to the Memmel legacy!
    Chellsie's sister Skyler is 10 or 11 I think. I read somewhere that she passed into elite :-)