Svetlana Boginskaya
Boginskaya at the 1988 Olympic Games

Full name

Svetlana Leonidovna Boginskaya


Bogi, Belarusian Swan, Goddess of Gymnastics

Country represented

Flag of Belarus Belarus

Former countr(ies) represented

Flag of the Soviet Union USSR
Flag of the CIS Commonwealth of Independent States
Olympic flag Unified Team


February 9 1973 (1973-02-09) (age 44)
Minsk, Belarusian SSR, USSR

Years on National Team

1981-1992, 1995-1996

Current status


Svetlana Leonidovna Boginskaya (Belarusian: Святлана Леанідаўна Багінская; born February 9, 1973), is a Soviet/Belarusian gymnast. She was called the "Belarusian Swan" and the "Goddess of Gymnastics" because of her height, balletic grace, and long lines. She is especially renowned for the drama and artistry she displayed on floor exercise. Boginskaya is a three-time Olympic Champion, winning an individual gold medal in Vault at the 1988, and team golds in 1988 and 1992.


Boginskaya was born in Minsk. She was a figure skater for several years, but began gymnastics at age six. Two years later, she moved from Minsk to train full-time at the Moscow Round Lake Gymnastics Center. By age fourteen she was a member of the Soviet national team. She won her first medal, a bronze for balance beam, during the 1987 World Championships. She became one of the best gymnasts on the Soviet team and was expected to place very well at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. She finished the games with 4 medals - team gold, gold on Vault, silver on the Floor and the All-Around bronze. It was a huge accomplishment for the young athlete in an Olympic Games that revolved around the duel between her teammate Elena Shushunova and Romania's star Daniela Silivaş.

However, the joy from her success would be short-lived. Boginskaya's long-time coach Lyubov Miromanova committed suicide just three days after the Olympics. Miromanova had been a surrogate mother to her, as she coached and cared for Boginskaya since she moved from Minsk to train full-time in Moscow. Boginskaya has always been reluctant to discuss this devastating time in her life. To this day, the reason for Miromanova's suicide remains a mystery. A heartbroken Boginskaya pressed on, and began training with a new coach, Ludmilla Popkovich. Under her tutelage, Boginskaya became World Champion in 1989 and later dedicated her performance to her late mentor. In 1990, Boginskaya became only the fourth woman to sweep the European Championships (after Larisa Latynina of the USSR in 1957, Věra Čáslavská of Czechoslovakia in 1965 and 1967, and Ludmilla Tourischeva of the USSR in 1973), winning the gold medal in every individual event. In doing so, she defended her titles in the All-Around, Vault, and Floor Exercise, and added titles in the Uneven Bars and Balance Beam. In 1991, in a controversial finish, Boginskaya fell short of defending her world title, losing the gold medal to Kim Zmeskal of the United States. However, she earned gold medals in the Team and Balance Beam competitions.

In 1992, Boginskaya, then 19 years old, had a disappointing performance at the 1992 European Championships, falling on her final event, the floor exercise. She finished in fifth place, while her young teammate Tatiana Gutsu won the all-around title. Nevertheless, she was still a favorite to win the all-around title at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Gymnastics fans anticipated a duel between Boginskaya and her nemesis, American Kim Zmeskal. However, while Boginskaya won her third Olympic gold medal in the team competition, she finished fifth in the Individual All-Around. Zmeskal finished twelfth. Instead of the anticipated showdown between Boginskaya (who was awarded a controversially low score on the uneven bars) and Zmeskal (who faltered on floor and beam in the all-around), Tatiana Gutsu and Shannon Miller provided one of the most dramatic competitions in Olympic history.

Boginskaya retired after the 1992 Olympics, but decided to make a comeback in 1995. She said that she was inspired by Katarina Witt who had made a memorable comeback of her own at the 1994 Winter Olympics. She stunned audiences worldwide by competing with more difficult routines than ever before, and with an endlessly positive attitude. In 1996 the 23-year-old Boginskaya nearly won the European All-Around Title, placing second behind then defending World All-Around Champion (and future Olympic All-Around Champion) Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine. She then progressed to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where she delighted the crowds and was one of a number of 'older' gymnasts competing. Boginskaya led her Belarus team to sixth place and competed in the all-around and vault finals, though medals were not forthcoming. Svetlana Boginskaya is one of very few women in gymnastics history to have competed in three Olympic games. Others include Larisa Latynina, Věra Čáslavská, Ludmilla Tourischeva, Svetlana Khorkina, Dominique Dawes, Lisa Skinner and Oksana Chusovitina. (It should be noted, however, that Svetlana Boginskaya is the only one of the three-time Olympic participants in recent history to have competed when Compulsories were a requirement at each Olympic Game she participated in). She is one of only two gymnasts (the other being Oksana Chusovitina) to compete on three different Olympic teams: Soviet Union, Unified Team, and Belarus. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2005.

After the 1992 Olympics, Boginskaya appeared alongside compatriot Vitaly Scherbo in the music video, "Revolution Earth," by The B-52's.

Today Boginskaya lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and two children. She runs two businesses, an online gymnastics apparel retailer and a summer camp for gymnastics students, but she also considers herself a stay-at-home mother.

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Featured Gymnast for January 2017

Medal Count

Year Event TF AA VT UB BB FX
1985Hungarian International1st
1986Riga International3rd1st1st
1987Rotterdam World Championships3rd
USSR Cup63rd
Riga International1st
1988Seoul Olympic Games1st3rd1st2nd
Chunichi Cup2nd
USSR Cup2nd3rd2nd4
Moscow News2nd2nd2nd
DTB Cup2nd
1989Brussels European Championships1st1st1st
Stuttgart World Championships1st1st1st
USSR Championships9
Moscow News1st3rd2nd1st1st
1990Athens European Championships1st1st1st1st1st
Seattle Goodwill Games1st2nd1st
Chunichi Cup1st
Blume Memorial1st
USSR Cup1st
DTB Cup8
1991Indianapolis World Championships1st2nd1st
Chunichi Cup2nd
Blume Memorial1st
1992DTB Cup1st
Arthur Gander Memorial1st
Nantes European Championships1st5
Paris World Championships2nd
Barcelona Olympic Games1st545
1996International Mixed Pairs1st
Birmingham European Championships2nd
Atlanta Olympic Games6145

Floor Music

1996 - "Mélodie D'amour" by Kaoma

Olympic Vault Champions
Ekaterina KalinchukLarisa LatyninaMargarita NikolaevaVěra ČáslavskáKarin JanzNellie KimNatalia ShaposhnikovaEcaterina SzaboSvetlana BoginskayaLavinia Miloşovici | Henrietta ÓnodiSimona AmânarElena ZamolodchikovaMonica RoşuHong Un-JongSandra IzbaşaSimone Biles

World All-Around Champions
Vlasta DěkanováHelena RakoczyGalina RudkoLarisa LatyninaVěra ČáslavskáLudmilla TourischevaElena MukhinaNellie KimOlga BicherovaNatalia YurchenkoElena Shushunova | Oksana OmelianchikAurelia DobreSvetlana BoginskayaKim ZmeskalShannon MillerLilia PodkopayevaSvetlana KhorkinaMaria OlaruSvetlana KhorkinaChellsie MemmelVanessa FerrariShawn JohnsonBridget SloanAliya MustafinaJordyn WieberSimone Biles

World Balance Beam Champions
Vlasta DěkanováHelena RakoczyKeiko TanakaLarisa LatyninaEva BosákováNatalia KuchinskayaErika ZucholdNellie KimLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciVera CernaMaxi GnauckOlga MostepanovaDaniela SilivaşAurelia DobreDaniela SilivaşSvetlana BoginskayaKim ZmeskalLavinia MiloşoviciShannon MillerMo HuilanDina KochetkovaGina GogeanLing JieAndreea RăducanAshley PostellFan YeNastia LiukinIryna KrasnianskaNastia LiukinDeng LinlinAna PorgrasSui LuAliya MustafinaSimone Biles

World Floor Exercise Champions
Matylda Pálfyová • Helena RakoczyTamara ManinaEva BosákováLarisa LatyninaNatalia KuchinskayaLudmilla TourischevaNellie Kim | Elena MukhinaEmilia EberleNatalia IlienkoEcaterina SzaboOksana OmelianchikDaniela Silivaş | Elena ShushunovaDaniela Silivaş | Svetlana BoginskayaCristina BontaşKim ZmeskalShannon MillerDina KochetkovaGina GogeanGina Gogean | Kui YuanyuanGina GogeanAndreea RăducanElena GómezDaiane Dos SantosAlicia SacramoneCheng FeiShawn JohnsonBeth TweddleLauren MitchellKsenia AfanasyevaSimone Biles

European All-Around Champions
Larisa Latynina • Natalia Kot • Larisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara Lazakovich | Ludmilla TourischevaLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckOlga BicherovaElena ShushunovaDaniela SilivaşSvetlana BoginskayaTatiana GutsuGina GogeanLilia PodkopayevaSvetlana KhorkinaAlina KozichMarine DebauveVanessa FerrariKsenia SemenovaAnna DementyevaAliya MustafinaGiulia SteingruberEllie Downie

European Vault Champions
Larisa Latynina • Natalia Kot • Ute Starke • Solveig Egman • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzLudmilla TourischevaLudmilla Tourischeva | Angelika Hellmann • Nellie KimNadia ComăneciCristina GrigoraşOlga BicherovaElena ShushunovaSvetlana BoginskayaTatiana GutsuLavinia MiloşoviciSimona Amânar • Adrienn Varga • Simona AmânarNatalia ZiganshinaMonica RoşuFrancesca Benolli • Anna Grudko • Carlotta Giovannini • Oksana ChusovitinaAriella KaeslinEkaterina KurbatovaSandra IzbaşaGiulia SteingruberMaria PasekaGiulia SteingruberColine Devillard

European Uneven Bars Champions
Larisa LatyninaPolina Astakhova • Thea Belmer • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara LazakovichLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciNadia Comăneci | Elena MukhinaElena MukhinaMaxi GnauckEcaterina SzaboElena Shushunova | Oksana OmelianchikDaniela SilivaşHenrietta ÓnodiSvetlana Boginskaya | Natalia Kalinina | Mirela PaşcaTatiana GutsuSvetlana KhorkinaSvetlana Khorkina | Simona Amânar | Lilia PodkopayevaSvetlana KhorkinaÉmilie Le PennecBeth TweddleDariya ZgobaKsenia SemenovaBeth TweddleViktoria KomovaAliya MustafinaBecky DownieDaria SpiridonovaBecky DownieNina Derwael

European Balance Beam Champions
Larisa LatyninaVěra ČáslavskáPolina Astakhova • Eva Rydell • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara LazakovichLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciElena MukhinaNatalia ShaposhnikovaMaxi GnauckLavinia AgacheOksana OmelianchikDaniela SilivaşGabriela Potorac | Olesya DudnikSvetlana BoginskayaGina GogeanRoza GaliyevaYevgeniya KuznetsovaSvetlana KhorkinaLudmila EzhovaCătălina PonorYulia LozhechkoKsenia SemenovaYana DemyanchukAmelia RaceaAnna DementyevaCătălina PonorLarisa IordacheMaria KharenkovaAndreea MunteanuAliya MustafinaCătălina Ponor

European Floor Exercise Champions
Larisa LatyninaPolina AstakhovaLarisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra ČáslavskáOlga KarasyovaLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciMaria Filatova | Elena MukhinaNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckLavinia AgacheElena ShushunovaDaniela SilivaşDaniela Silivaş | Svetlana BoginskayaLilia PodkopayevaLilia Podkopayeva | Lavinia MiloşoviciCorina UngureanuLudivine Furnon • Alona Kvasha • Cătălina PonorIsabelle SeverinoSandra IzbaşaVanessa FerrariSandra IzbaşaBeth TweddleSandra IzbaşaLarisa IordacheKsenia AfanasyevaLarisa Iordache | Vanessa FerrariKsenia AfanasyevaGiulia SteingruberAngelina Melnikova

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