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Gymnastics Olympic Champions From 1988-2004

Here are the men's and women's all-around champions from the last five Olympic Games -- these are just brief biographies, but they surely give you an idea of your gymnast's potential.

2004 Paul Hamm, Carly Patterson

Paul Hamm, the 2004 men's all-around champion in gymnastics, was born on September 24, 1982, and has a twin brother by the name of Morgan. Paul was the first American man to take the gold for the all-around competition in a fully attended Olympic Game. He is noteworthy for some controversy surrounding his title.

Carly Patterson was born on February the fourth, 1988, in Baton Rouge,Louisiana, to a pair of loving parents - her mother, Natalie, and her father, Ricky. She is the first of a pair of girls (her younger sister is Jordan). In 2004, she became the first all-around Olympic champion for the United States in more than two decades, and was also the first to win for the US in the past two games. The last female all-around gymnastics champion for the United States won in 1984, when the Soviet Union had boycotted the Olympics entirely.

2000 Andreea Raducan, Alexei Nemov

Andreea Madalina Raducan was born on the thirtieth of September, 1983, in Birlad, Romania. She was trained under Octavien Belu and Mariana Bitang of the Cetate Deva Club in Romania and began gymnastics at the age of five. She has several gold and silver medals under her belt from national and international competitions. Though she is listed as the official Olympic all-around female champion, the IOC stripped her of her medal when she tested positive for pseudophedrine (the active ingredient in many decongestants) after having taken a cold pill given to her by the Romanian Olympic Team doctor. Regardless of whether or not she has the medal, she is a champion - and an incredible one at that.

Alexei Nemov is considered to be one of the best male gymnasts in the world, as well as being a pin-up for the girls. He was born on May 28th, 1976, in Barashevo, Russia. His start on gymnastics started early. At the age of five, his mother took him to the local gym, thinking that gymnastics would be an acceptable alternative to a more violent sport. He has had his ups and downs in gymnastics -- namely, with many injuries to his arms and shoulders -- but left the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics with six medals each. In 2000, he was crowned the men's all-around gymnastics champion and bore his gold medal proudly.

1996 Li Xiaoshuang, Lilia Podkopayeva

Li Xiaoshuang, men's all-around gymnastics champion in the 1996 Olympics, was born on November 1, 1973, in Xintao, Hubei Province, China. His career has been marked with many successes. At the age of seven, he took up gymnastics; two years later, he was part of his provincial team, and at twelve years of age, he was part of the Chinese national gymnastics team. He has won many gold medals in his time, including two from separate Olympic games - 1992 and 1996 - and three from the World Gymnastics Championships. In 1995, he was awarded the well-deserved title of International Master of Sports and continues, to this date, to impress.

Lilia Podkopayeva was born on August 15, 1978 in Donestk, Ukraine. Her coach, Galina Lossinskaya, brought her through more than ten competitions all together, in which she fared well. In the 1996 Atlanta Georgia Olympic Games, she placed first in the all-around women's competition and since then has toured the United States in the John Hancock Tour of World Gymnastics Champions.

1992 Tatiana Gutsu, Vitaly Scherbo

Tatiana Gutsu, women's all-around champion in the 1992 Olympics, has an excellent record of performance. She was born on the fifty of September, 1976 in the Soviet Union, and was selected at a very young age by her coach and trainer, Victor Dikii. In the 1992 Olympics, her career became tarnished by conspiracy when she took the place of Roza Galieva in the all-around competition, one for which she did not qualify. It later became known that Galieva was not really injured, and though it was apparently not Gutsu's idea to take over that part of the competition, the two of them split the prize earnings and became bitter acquaintances. Today, Tatiana lives in the United States.

Vitaly Scherbo, men's all-around champion in 1992, has a very impressive record. He won an unprecedented six individual gold medals at the '92 Olympics and, all told, he holds more than fifty medals in total from championships around the world. Coached by two of the best in the world -- Leonid Filipenok and Sergei Shinkar, he is truly an impressive gymnast. Now, with his wife and daughter, Irina and Kristina respectively, he runs the Vitaly Scherbo School of Gymnastics in Las Vegas. The website for the school of gymnastics can be found at

1988 Elena Shoushounova, Vladimir Artemov

Elena Shushonova, women's all-around Olympic champion of 1988, was born in May of 1969 in Saint Petersburg, which was, at the time, Leningrad. She trained under Viktor Gavrichenkov at the Central Army Club in the then Soviet Union. With two Olympic gold medals, a bronze medal and a silver medal, and more than twenty other medals from championships around the world, Elena Shushonova has an illustrious history of gymnastic prowess, and in 2004, she was added to the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Born in the town for which he was named in December of 1964, Vladimir Artemov came away with the all around gold medal in the 1988 Olympics. In fact, he came away a champion several times over, with gold or silver in all of his events, a truly impressive finish. Trained under Viktor Firsov at Burevestnik, at that time a part of the Soviet Union, he also received thirteen other medals in all of his other endeavors. Now, he lives in the United States with his wife and children, and is a part of the National Coaching Staff.

By Murray Hughes
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