Latynina’s All-around crown passed to the dynamic Czech Vera Caslavska at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. To date, Caslavska is the last gymnast to have won back-to-back All-around titles -- she successfully defended her Olympic title in 1968, and added another three gold medals in event finals.
On a team noted for its expertise on Uneven Bars and Balance Beam, Cheng shone on Vault, where she won three World titles (2005-07), and on Floor, where she clinched the Chinese women’s only Olympic team gold in Beijing in 2008.
Oksana Chusovitina’s storied career, which began with a World gold on Floor Exercise in 1991 and extended a quarter century later through the Rio Olympic Games, is one for the ages. Now in her early 40s, the grande dame of the sport is still at the summit of her abilities, as she showed in 2017 by making the Vault final at the World Championships.
The 14-year-old from Onesti, Romania became world famous after the first day of competition at the 1976 Montreal Games, where she scored the first perfect 10 at the Olympics in the modern era of Gymnastics for her compulsory Bars routine. She would go on to earn six more perfect marks over the course of the Games, and remains one of the most legendary figures in the sport.
Once considered too tall for Gymnastics, the statuesque Svetlana Khorkina turned the tables on her detractors by pioneering new and creative skills that suited her 1.65 meter frame. Khorkina was best on the Uneven Bars, where she won Olympic gold in 1996 and 2000.
The impish Olga Korbut captivated the public with her daring backflip catch on Uneven Bars at the 1972 Munich Games. Korbut’s bold routines, which resulted in three gold medals, also helped push the sport in a new direction as gymnasts added new, innovative, and more difficult elements to their exercises.
The swan of the Soviet Gymnastics school that burst onto the international scene in the 1950s, Larissa Latynina owns 18 medals, nine of them gold, from the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games. She held the record for the most Olympic medals won by a single athlete until 2012, when it was broken by swimmer Michael Phelps.
With Aliya Mustafina, Russia’s long wait for a World All-around champion finally came to an end in 2010. A serious knee injury sustained in 2011 threatened her chances for success at the 2012 Olympics, but Mustafina was not to be deterred. With four medals in London, including gold on Uneven Bars, she became Russia’s most decorated athlete at the Games. Four years later in Rio, she added another three medals, retaining her Olympic title on the Uneven Bars, and successfully defending her All-around bronze.
The elegant “Lilipod” enchanted judges and audiences alike with her balletic style, which concealed extreme power tumbling and vaulting abilities. Podkopayeva triumphed over one of the most competitive fields ever to win All-around gold in Atlanta in 1996, a year after becoming World champion.
Yelena Shushunova’s dynamic, powerful exercises and consistency made her a member of a very exclusive club of women to have won the European, World and Olympic All-around titles. Her big Olympic moment came in Seoul in 1988, when she edged Romanian rival Daniela Silivas for the All-around crown.
Romania’s Daniela Silivas seemed able to do everything, and proved it by earning seven perfect 10s at the 1988 Olympics, as many as Nadia herself earned in 1976. Although the All-around gold went to Yelena Shushunova, Silivas scored three of the four golds in event finals, making sure her name went down in history as well.