Thursday, January 14, 2010


Maria Filatova, one of the most brilliant baby gymnasts to ever come out of the U.S.S.R. ripened into one of their greatest, attending two Olympic Games in her time.  Apparently, when she trained as a reserve during podium training in Montreal, she caused such a stir with fans she ended up being placed in the line-up.

  I turns out she wasn't the easiest child to coach, but her talent made it worth it.  Her coach once told the Moscow News:

"I like Maria's character. She's brave and a gambler. She loves games and rivalry gets her going. I remember when she used to bring dolls to coaching sessions and played with them in the breaks. When she is training she always tries to find someone to compete with her in doing an exercise, 'betting' who'll do it better. But she's a tough kid to work with because she enjoys an argument.

At school she's a good student -- things come easily. In gymnastics she also can do just about everything. She trained harder than anyone else and it was tough to get her out of the gym. I had to hurry her because I knew there were other promising up-and-comers in other cities, and I really wanted Maria to make the Olympic squad. Her tournament performances were somewhat unstable because nerves often got the better of her. But in the Olympic season she managed to find a place among the leaders."

Filatova, who won two Olympic team golds and a bronze (on bars) as well as the second-highest amount of World Cup medals won by any gymnasts (after Shannon Miller) in her career.  She, in 1975, was one of the first gymnasts to compete a double back on floor.After leaving the sport, she coached in Belarus, Ireland and finally in the U.S.A  She opened her own gymnastics club, Zenith gymnastics in Rochester, NY.


  1. One of my all-time favorites. So under rated. Lost in the shadow of the Olga v. Nadia thing in '76 and the boycott thing in '80. Her Compulsories were perfection. That whole era of Soviet girls were such "all-arounders"; not a weak event for any of them.

  2. I love Filatova - top three of all time easily. Did you know she competed a full-in before Mukhina?