In early April Russian gymnast Elena Eremina introduced her retirement from ladies’s creative gymnastics (WAG). It ends the athletic profession of a gymnast who was probably the most well-liked gymnasts of the final eight years and ranked eleventh on the record of most profitable WAGs of the 2017-2021 Tokyo Olympic quad.
However by saying her retirement, Eremina concluded a profession that was legendary for her success in 2017, and heartbreaking for the misfortune that plagued Elena for the remainder of her profession. Within the course of changing into a “one-hit surprise” or a gymnast who had a memorable run of success, however just for a brief time period that wasn’t replicated afterwards.
The idea of a “one-hit surprise” is uncommon in gymnastics. By retiring Elena Eremina turns into solely the seventh WAG ever to win an All-Round medal on the World Championships or Olympics (Group-1 Stage) whereas having solely a single profession look in such competitors.
With 104 WAGs in gymnastics historical past who’ve gained an All-Round medal, solely 6.7% of All-Round medalists fail to qualify to a second Group-1 competitors of their careers. However surprisingly, that small share truly overstates how widespread this development is.
The seven gymnasts who’ve achieved it:
1962: Irina Pervushina
1978: Elena Mukhina
1984: Mary Lou Retton
1984: Simona Pauca
2017: Elena Eremina
2021: Kayla DiCello
2021: Leanne Wong
Gymnastics followers en masse would object to the inclusion of Leanne Wong and Kayla DiCello as a result of they aren’t retired and will return to Group-1 competitors in the event that they so select. The presence of each Retton and Pauca additionally presents an asterisk due to the 1984 Olympic boycott. Would each gymnasts have retained their All-Round medals if Maxi Gnauck and the Soviets had been in attendance?
In Retton’s case it might be argued she by no means made a severe try and compete in a second Group-1 competitors as a result of she opted to pursue a celeb profession as a substitute on the heels of her Olympic fame. Pauca is the textbook instance of a one-hit surprise within the context of gymnastics historical past, however it will have been troublesome for her to duplicate her success in All-Round Finals if the 1984 All-Round hadn’t been boycotted.
After which there’s Elena Mukhina who’s concurrently each an ideal and a horrible instance of a “one hit surprise.” Mukhina produced one of many best performances in WAG historical past throughout her Group-1 debut on the 1978 World Championships, solely to by no means seem in such a contest once more. In that context her story “matches” into the theme of being a one hit surprise, however such a theme is a misrepresentation of Mukhina’s profession.
Elena Mukhina was a dominant gymnast for years being a robust candidate for the 1976 Soviet Olympic staff. She would have been a 1976 Olympian had Mukhina belonged to this system of just about every other nation. Mukhina additionally had success on the European Championships in each 1977 and 1979, making her a gymnast with sturdy ends in 4 consecutive years of senior-level competitors. Hardly becoming the theme of a “one-hit” gymnast.
The one cause Mukhina has only a lone look on the World Championships is as a result of she competed in an period the place they weren’t but held on a yearly foundation. Had that been the case Elena Mukhina nearly definitely would have made the Soviet staff in 1977 and secured a further All-Round medal had such a contest been held that yr.
This leaves Irina Pervushina as the one instance who really compares to Elena Eremina’s profession. Pervushina is just not a well-known determine, even amongst gymnastics historical past buffs. However her profession was legendary and the one cause Pervushina is just not well-known is as a result of her profession predates the large surge in recognition WAG skilled within the late Sixties. Leaving Pervushina because the obscure gymnast from an obscure period.
In my factors rating information Pervushina is the fifth best non-Olympian in WAG historical past, behind solely Elena Mukhina, Morgan Hurd, Rebecca Bross, and Olga Mostepanova. This from a “one-hit surprise” whose whole profession comes all the way down to only one look in any worldwide competitors. There was no European Championships, World Cup, or Olympics for Irina Pervushina. And but her 1962 World Championships that resulted in a bronze within the All-Round, a gold on bars, a silver on flooring, in addition to one other gold within the staff competitors propels her in the direction of the highest of the record of best non-Olympians.
Irina Pervushina was the primary breakout star of Yuri Shtukman, the famed Soviet coach who was a number one pioneer within the extra “daredevil” model of gymnastics (predating Olga Korbut). He additionally was one of many first to grasp the way forward for the game was a pivot in the direction of baby athletes (predating Nadia Comaneci). Descendants of the Shtukman teaching/gymnast tree would in the end coach Angelina Melnikova, Viktoria Komova, and Yana Vorona within the trendy period.
Through the chilly battle assistant coaches who had spent vital time with Shtukman coached Corridor of Fame gymnasts, Elena Davydova, Natalia Shaposhnikova, Ludmilla Turischeva, and Natalia Yurchenko. In the beginning of all of this, and the gymnast who legitimatized the profession of probably the most influential coaches in WAG historical past was Irina Pervushina.
How such a traditionally vital gymnast might find yourself in such obscurity is a testomony to how shortly the game will abandon the final gymnast to have fun its subsequent star. The comparisons to Irina Pervushina is just not meant as an insult to Elena Eremina, however a complement that Pervushina was a legend and Eremina ought to be considered in the very same means. Not like Pervushina, it’s troublesome to think about followers would ever neglect the surprise that was Elena Eremina.
After the 1962 World Championships Pervushina disappeared from competitors and was by no means seen once more. The perpetrator was a sequence of accidents the place as quickly as Irina was absolutely healed from one harm, a brand new one appeared.
Eremina’s profession was remarkably comparable as instantly following her efficiency on the 2017 World Championships, she started to endure continuous again issues involving her backbone. Eremina’s medal depend in 2017 was spectacular for a 1st-year senior. She gained a silver medal on the European Championships, then took a bronze within the All-Round on the World Championships, with yet one more silver medal within the All-Round.
It wasn’t a very dominant run, nevertheless it was a sign that this gymnast had vital potential for the longer term. However that future would by no means come and over the following 4 years Eremina didn’t seem in a single high-level competitors. So far as I’m conscious, she had just one look in a contest held outdoors of Russia in that point.
Elena Eremina’s legacy is that she was a fan favourite whose routines, progressive gymnastics expertise and standing as a extremely regarded junior prospect gained her over so many followers. Her ardour and love for the game, pushing via her accidents, all whereas not being discouraged after a sample of low outcomes made Eremina inspiring. Eremina by no means misplaced religion in her aim even after 4 years of heartbreak. Eremina at all times strived to return to her 2017 type and followers held out hope that Elena would reach that aim.
The idea of a one-hit surprise has totally different interpretations as beforehand mentioned with Elena Mukhina. Out of all gymnasts Simona Pauca might need essentially the most textbook profession of a one-hit surprise. After quickly rising up the ranks in 1983, she made Romania’s Olympic staff and have become a 2x Olympic gold medalist. Pauca additionally produced a rating equal to Mary Lou Retton within the All-Round Finals however was demoted to bronze due to carry-over scoring. The gymnast with solely two years of junior outcomes the place she completed fifth and tenth within the All-Round ended up changing into a 3x Olympic medalist in what was her senior debut.
The one argument in opposition to Pauca’s standing as WAG’s best one-hit surprise, no less than when having an All-Round medal is taken into account the minimal threshold, is how her profession outcomes ought to be interpreted within the context of a boycott. However even when Pauca had been demoted to fifth within the All-Round and bronze on beam in a fully-attended Olympics, it nonetheless would have been an unimaginable story.
Being a one-hit surprise whereas successful an All-Round medal is the rarest of all kinds because the development is way extra widespread amongst vault, bars, beam, and flooring podiums. Even Irina Pervushina won’t be essentially the most excellent instance as she was an Olympic alternate in 1960, and presumably might have made the Soviet staff in 1961 had there been a World Championships that yr. Though it isn’t a assure as is the case with Elena Mukhina and 1977.
That is what makes the senior profession of Elena Eremina so fascinating. That in contrast to the opposite six examples, there’s nothing to actually nitpick concerning how her profession doesn’t match the mould of a one-hit surprise. After recapping the careers of Mukhina, Pauca, Retton, and Pervushina, many readers may choose Eremina as the instance that most closely fits the outline.
Apparently sufficient, of the seven examples of gymnasts who gained All-Round medals of their one and solely look on the Group-1 stage, six of them gained a number of medals in a person occasion. The lone exception is Kayla DiCello. Making Kayla the one gymnast in all of WAG historical past from the Thirties-present to make an All-Round podium and by no means medal in Occasion Finals nor seem in a second main competitors. Though that statistic entails a younger gymnast with ample alternative for her to realize future success in elite competitors.
Elena Eremina was an inspirational gymnast who gave gymnastics followers a lot to cheer for. Considered one of my favourite Twitter accounts Solnishko who’s well-known for producing translations of Russian-language WAG information had the following abstract of how vital Eremina’s again issues grew to become.
“She has 3 protrusions in her cervical backbone, one other in her thoraci, a compression fracture in her thoracic backbone and the steel development in her lumbar holding her backbone collectively.”
The next image is required to finest perceive the importance of the above quote.
As for the steel development Eremina has in her again, she supplied gymnastics followers with a picture of it on her social media.
That’s the toughness Elena Eremina endured and pushed via when so many others would have given up. Eremina had the center of the truest competitor and the one silver lining to her retirement is that Elena’s physique will lastly get some relaxation, whereas her longterm high quality of life might be safeguarded.
If this text has one objective, it’s that gymnastics followers needed Elena Eremina’s profession to be memorable. In a means it was while you analyze her profession via the idea of a one hit surprise and understand how distinctive it was. If not, you could possibly say her profession was a “one in all a sort” phenomena. Followers loved the profession of Elena Eremina and it really was a surprise to observe.