Sunday, March 14, 2010


Instead of their usual scrabbling around for bits of gymnastics news, Romanian sport magazine, Prosport magazine has allowed someone to pen a bit of a feature/opinion piece that, surprisingly, is about Elena Mukhina.

The latest article is a lengthy piece of work comparing the Soviet and Romanian schools of gymnastics.  It begins locating itself historically, telling readers how Romania came under Soviet Rule and along with Hungary and Czechoslovakia was "only good for milking" and how eventually, beating the Soviet gymnastics team (as well as any other sporting team, was the sole aim and ambition, more than beating any other team. It seemed, from what I can understand of the translation, that for a while there, the Russians would take the athletes of these nations as their own.  This stopped after a period, however.

When these nations competed against the Soviet Union, it was a way of 'avenging' their occupation.  The development of Nadia Comaneci, according to this paper, began "a terrible confrontation" between the two nations.

The paper then describes Elena Mukhina as being engineered to beat Nadia, to be a new Nadia, a Soviet Nadia.  She was  told, "You will be a heroine if you beat Nadia." She was called "Princess" in Moscow and this article focusses on the cruelty in which Mukhina was treated with in order to beat Nadia. She was pressured by trainers and government alike, who wanted her to restore honour upon the USSR.

 She was surrendered to a "Draconian" training regime, working on a fracture, taking ballet lessons with Plissetskaya ( I am pretty sure she is the one who lost the plot, thought she was Giselle or something and wound up in the loony bin) and repetitive training.  It then tells of her devastating injury.

It goes on to talk of her sad life, of her parents who wanted justice for her death, and of Maya Plissetskaya, her dance teacher.  The writer, instead of leaving readers with a video of Elena, chose one of Maya Plissetskaya dancing the 'Dying Swan' in Swan Lake, telling us that "Those who understand human ballet will understand the message contained in this peerless dance of death."

A fascinating change of direction for Prosport and really, a lovely tribute to Mukhina.



  1. I thought Mukhina lost both her parents when she was a child and was raised by her grandmother? How can they still be waiting for justice?

  2. Poor Mokhina. She was always one of my favorites. She looked so sad and lost most of the time. It did seem, even before the insights of ProSport, that she was in some way "sacrificed" in the revenge against the Romanian system. To pull a girl of 12 up into the Elite ranks so quickly I thought very odd, to say the least.

  3. Anon 1- it prob was someone else in her family- it is difficult to understand these translations.

  4. there a neat french documentary on the rus vs rom gymnastics on you tube.

  5. Thanks for posting this! Mukhina is one of my all time favorites. Such a shame more people don't know about her. Was this print or online? I'd love to read it for myself. :)

    Jennifer- Perhaps it was her grandmother? She's the only relative I ever recall reading/hearing about. Maybe it was a cousin?

  6. Oops, please delete my previous post if you don't mind. I'm having an editing fail day. :P