Olena Vitrychenko bigraphy, stories - Gymnast

Olena Vitrychenko : biography

25 November 1976 -

Olena Ihorivna Vitrychenko ( born 25 November 1976 in Odessa, USSR) is an Individual Ukrainian Rhythmic Gymnast. She is the 1996 Olympics bronze medalist, the 1997 World All-around champion and 1997 European All-around champion.


She comes from a gymnast family - her mother Nina was also a rhythmic gymnast and indeed was also her daughter's coach at the famed Deryuguina School in Kiev. Vitrichenko was put into rhythmic gymnastics in 1980 at 4 years of age.

Although she made her first international appearance in 1986, many feel that her international career started at the European Championships in Stuttgart, Germany in 1992 where she won a bronze medal as a part of the Ukrainian Group. Elena began gaining experience and winning medals at major events.

A worldwide and sympathetic crowd favorite, Vitrichenko's career was marked by numerous judging controversies, usually not in her favor. In the 1994 World Championships in Paris, she was placed 3rd in the hoop event final behind teammate, Ekaterina Serebrianskaya, and the Belarusian Larissa Lukyanenko who were both tied for the gold (9.875); but an upgraded score (9.825 to 9.875) for then Bulgarian World champion Maria Petrova knocked Vitrichenko out of the bronze medal position and eventually came out 4th.

In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Vitrichenko seemed to be a contender for the gold medal by placing first after preliminaries and second after the semi-finals. And despite a clean all-around performance in the final, she was given scores in the 9.8 range (the highest score received in the rope event 9.866). She placed 2nd behind teammate Ekaterina Serebrianskaya after the first rotation on the rope, but her ball routine score of 9.800 threw her out of the gold medal hunt, and she had to fight for the bronze with Russian rival Amina Zaripova. She was able to take the bronze medalWallechinsky, David. The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics: Sydney 2000 Edition, p. 559. Overlook Press, 2000. ISBN 1-58567-046-4. due to Zaripova's mishandling of the ribbon, stepping on it before her final toss. A disappointed Vitrichenko would later say that she felt that she was robbed of the gold. Not to be deterred, however, in the following year she became both the World and the European All-Around champion.

The 2000 European Championships in Zaragoza, Spain featured one of the most egregious judging scandals in the sport with Vitrichenko once again at its center. At the peak of a long and well-publicized feud with the head of the Ukrainian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, Olena Vitrichenko was inexplicably placed in 17th place, and withdrew in protest. In the official evaluation of videotapes, it was mentioned that certain judges had clearly discriminated against Vitrichenko in comparison to scores given to other gymnasts. Shortly after the scandal the FIG sanctioned the guilty judges: Natalia Stepanova (Belarus), Gabriele Stummer (Austria), Galina Marjina (Latvia), Ursula Sohlenkamp (Germany), Natalia Lashtsinkaya (Russia), and Ukrainian Irina Diriugina.Associated Press. . ESPN.com, 22 May 2008. Retrieved on 27 May 2013.

Madame Abruzzini, the then president of the Rhythmic Gymnastics Technical Committee, wanted more severe punishment, such as suspension for life of the guilty judges. In the end, the 6 guilty judges were suspended for one year and they could not go to the judge course in Rome. Their federations were forced to select another judge for the Sydney Olympics who met the requirements of FIG. The other 26 judges that were at Zaragoza were also warned and were not allowed to judge in Sydney.Philadelphia Inquirer. . 19 August 2000. Retrieved on 27 May 2013. This was the first time in RG history that such massive inappropriate behavior was proven and penalized.

Vitrichenko's struggles continued when after the Europeans, her own federation tried to deny her a spot on the Ukrainian Olympic team in 2000. She appealed to the International Olympic Committee who overturned the decision, and awarded her a spot on the team. Vitrichenko seemed to put all the aggravation behind her, and performed well at the Olympics. She did not medal, but she finished in fourth place behind Alina Kabaeva.BBC. . 1 October 2000. Retrieved on 27 May 2013.

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