1980 Gym Nerdery USSR

1980: Nellie Kim Chooses Her Fantasy Gymnastics Team

It’s the holiday season in my household, so here’s my gift to the gymnastics community: an article in which Nellie Kim chooses her ideal gymnastics team.

Here are the seven gymnasts she chose and why.

Datum: 25.07.1980 Copyright: imago/Sven Simon Nelli Kim (Sowjetunion); Nelly, UdSSR, Vdia, quer, Olympische Spiele Moskau 1980, Sommerspiele, Geräteturnen, Kunstturnen Moskau Turnen OS Sommer Damen Einzel Porträt Randmotiv Personen

Gymnastics star Nellie Kim has picked Romanian rival Nadia Comaneci and former Soviet teammate Olga Korbut for her seven-member world all-star team, Tass said Tuesday.

“If I were the coach of a token world team of the best-ever gymnasts,” she told the Soviet news agency, Tass, “ I would include the following:

“Comaneci and Korbut, Vera Caslvska of Czechoslovakia, Karin Janz of East Germany and Soviets Larisa Latynina, Natalia Kuchinskaya, and Ludmilla Tourischeva.”

Kim, who shared the spotlight with Comaneci at both the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Games, modestly left herself off the squad.

“I find it really difficult to name any replacements for such a brilliant team,” she told Tass. “Gymnastics has changed a lot since the time Larisa Latynina was at her best. Now it has become exceptionally complex.”

Latynina won the all-around gold medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics and four other golds in apparatus events during her Games’ career.

Caslavska won the all-around Olympic golds in 1964 and 1968 and took five golds in apparatus to outdo the Russian.

“The members of the symbolical world team, as I see them, would all bring something of their own into the group,” said Kim.

She cited Latynina’s “lyrical mood and plasticity,” Janz’s “technical perfection,” Tourischeva’s “stability,” Comaneci’s “virtuosity,” the “romantic style” of Kuchinskaya, Caslavska’s “determination to win” and the “enthusiasm and taste for risk” of Korbut.

Daily Yomiuri, Nov. 20, 1980
Note: I standardized the spelling of some of the gymnasts’ names in the article.

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In some ways, I find her reasoning more interesting than her choice of athletes. 

So, who would make your seven-person team? But more importantly, why would you choose each of those gymnasts?

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Also, all the risk, originality, and virtuosity points to anyone who can track down Nellie Kim and ask her to create a modern-day gymnastics dream team.

3 replies on “1980: Nellie Kim Chooses Her Fantasy Gymnastics Team”

Ms Kim, would also excel as a coach, much like her brilliant
achievements in gymnastics. She is one-of-a-kind! Ms Kim
is now a citizen of the United States !! This is a gift to the
American volks, for such a marvelous talent.

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