Elena Mikhailovna Zamolodchikova (Russian: Елена Михайловна Замолодчикова; born on September 19, 1982 in Moscow, Russia), nicknamed "Zamo", was a two-time Olympic gymnast. She began gymnastics at the age of six. She was well known for her risky double-twisting double-backflip (also known as a Silivas) on floor and was one of a handful of women to have successfully competed one.
In 1999 she participated in her first major senior competition, the World Gymnastics Championships, where she won the gold in vault, the bronze in the all-around.
At the 2000 European Championships in Paris, Zamolodchikova produced a stunning performance, inspiring viewers both with her physical ability and her psychological strength. Just days before the competition, her father died as a result of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl accident. In the midst of her shock and grief, she led her team to the gold medal and earned individual silvers in the all-around and vault finals and a bronze on the beam.
Zamolodchikova was selected as a member of the Russian gymnastics team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She initially did not score into the all-around or vault finals; however, she earned spots in both when Elena Produnova withdrew from the all-around and Svetlana Khorkina decided to give up her spot to Zamolodchikova. In the team competition, the Russians were leading after the preliminary rounds, and had a good chance of repeating this feat in finals. However, the four 'star' gymnasts on the team all made mistakes. Elena's was perhaps the most dramatic, slipping off the beam as she took off for a Rulfova and narrowly missing her head. These mistakes cost the Russians the gold.
After two apparatus in the all-around, Elena was in first place with her stronger exercises still to go. However, she lost her chances of an all-around medal with a fall on the floor exercise, ironically on her simplest tumble. On a night where many gymnasts made uncharacteristic errors, she eventually finished 6th. Had she scored the same in the all-around as she did for her team finals performance, her total would have been enough to win her the gold.
However, she came back to win gold on both the vault and floor, thus becoming a two-time Olympic champion. During vault finals, Khorkina sat in the stands, cheering loudly for her teammate for whom she gave up her spot. Ironically, Khorkina was leading in the floor finals until Zamolodchikova performed: both were vying for a second gold. Elena's superior tumbling won the day over Khorkina's artistry.
After becoming a double Olympic Champion, Zamolodchikova won the World vault title in 2002 and a European all-around bronze medal in 2004, in addition to numerous other awards.
Zamolodchikova, incidentally a lieutenant in the Russian Army, competed in her second Olympic games in 2004. The Russian team won a bronze medal, and Zamolodchikova just missed out on an individual vault medal, placing fourth behind Monica Roşu of Romania, Annia Hatch of the United States, and a fellow Russian, Anna Pavlova.
She competed most recently at the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne, where she was again unlucky, placing fourth in both vault and floor finals. Floor finals were particularly disappointing: she performed four extremely difficult tumbling passes, landing each one cleanly, but did not successfully compete all of her dance combinations. Her start value was lowered as a result from 10.0 to 9.7, and she scored a 9.162, placing her behind Americans Alicia Sacramone and Nastia Liukin, and Dutch gymnast Suzanne Harmes. Zamolodchikova's low score was unpopular with the crowd, who appeared to think she should have won bronze. She scored an average of 9.318 on her two vaults, finishing behind Cheng Fei of China, Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, and Alicia Sacramone of the U.S.
Many gymnasts retired as the new code was introduced, but not Elena. Despite speculation amongst fans, she has just kept on going, and improved vastly throughout 2006. At her first competition of the year, the American Cup, she had a disappointing competition, especially on bars, where she fell. Zamolodchikova was highly emotional after her routine and was seen crying. Problems were compounded when an injury prevented selection for the 2006 European Championships in Volos, Greece.
However, despite both this and her advanced age for a gymnast. Elena bounced back. She helped the Russian team to a bronze medal in the team event, their first at world level since 2001, and qualified to vault finals where she was fourth. In 2006, she also competed her new vault skill, a Yurchenko laid out half-on, half-off which has an A-score of 5.6P in the new code.
After the World Championships, she competed in a few World Cup competitions winning a bronze medal on vault in the DTB-Cup in Stuttgart and two silver medals on vault and on floor in the Glasgow Grand Prix. She crowned her year with a bronze on vault at the World Cup Finals in São Paulo, Brazil.
In 2007, she returned to the international scene in better shape. At the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, she was again met by disappointment. Her teammate Ekaterina Kramarenko ran up and touched the vaulting table but stopped and received a 0. Through tears, Zamo performed a solid vault, but the Russian team had already ended up eighth, and last. In the event finals, Zamo struggled as she fell on her second vault, and finished again in eighth.
Zamolodchikova continued training in 2008 in hopes of making the Russian Olympic team for the third time, but a back injury prevented her from a better showing and she failed to do so. Instead, she competed in various Word Cup events, narrowly missing a medal on floor at the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid, where she finished fourth.
Struggling with injury, her last competition were the 2009 University Games in Belgrade. Shortly after, she announced her retirement. She has also devoted her career to technical gymnastics as a judge, the 2009 DTB Cup in Germany being the first competition in her new role.
|1999||Cottbus World Cup||1st||5|
|Tianjin World Championships||2nd||3rd||1st|
|Arthur Gander Memorial||1st|
|Paris European Championships||1st||2nd||2nd||3rd|
|Sydney Olympic Games||2nd||7||1st||1st|
|2001||Visa American Cup||1st||1st||2nd||2nd||2nd|
|Ghent World Championships||2nd|
|Cottbus World Cup||1st||2nd|
|DTB World Cup||1st||5|
|Arthur Gander Memorial||6|
|2002||Debrecen World Championships||1st|
|2003||Visa American Cup||8|
|Anaheim World Championships||6||2nd|
|2004||Amsterdam European Championships||3rd||3rd||3rd|
|Athens Olympic Games||3rd||4|
|2005||Melbourne World Championships||16||4||4|
|2006||Aarhus World Championships||3rd||24||6|
|Stuttgart World Cup||3rd||5|
|2007||Stuttgart World Championships||8||8|
|Glasgow World Cup||2nd||7||2nd|
|2008||Madrid World Cup Final||4|
|2009||Belgrade Summer Universiade||3rd|
1999 - "Baby Elephant Walk" by Henry Mancini
2002 & 2005 - "Crazy Benny" by Safari Duo/"Breathe" by Prodigy
2003 & 2007 - "Ivresse Mecanique" by Saint-Preux
2004 - "Warda" by Asena/ "Symphonie Egyptienne"
2004 Olympics - "Vana Bit" by G-Night