1970sABCGymnasticsJim McKayWide World of Sports

Gymnastics – 1979 – Womens European Championships – Featuring Nadia Comaneci + Elena Mukhina


The 12th European Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships were held in Copenhagen, Denmark in September of 1979….which featured some of gymnastics most notable legends of the sport….including Romania’s Nadia Comaneci and Emilia Eberle….along with Russia’s Elena Mukhina and Natalia Shaposhnikova….as three of the four would win the gold in at least one of the women’s disciplines….with Comaneci winning the All Around, Vault and Floor…..while Muhkina won the Uneven Bars competition ….and teammate Shaposhnikova won the Balance…..while Eberle won silver in All Around, Uneven Bars and Balance Beam. The only competitor at these 1979 world championships was Germany’s Maxi Gnauck….who won silver in the Vault and bronze in the Uneven Bars….as all other medals were one by one of the four mentioned above.

Romania’s Nadia Comaneci is without question that country’s greatest women’s gymnast ever…..a five-time Olympic gold medalist, all in individual events….and the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games….and then, at the same 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal….she received six more perfect 10’s en route to winning three gold medals….then at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, she won two more gold medals and attained two more perfect 10’s.  During her career, Comăneci won nine Olympic medals and four World Artistic Gymnastics Championship medals….for she is one of the world’s best-known gymnasts…who is credited with popularizing the sport around the globe. In 2000, she was named as one of the Athletes of the 20th Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy. 

Not far behind Comaneci in popularity in Romania was teammate Emilia Eberle….who was included on the Romania national team in 1976….and later became the first female Romanian gymnastics star to succeed Nadia Comăneci…..but was often in Comăneci’s shadow because for the greater part of Eberle’s career….they competed together….which made one heck of a one-two-punch for Romanis.  Despite this, she made a name for herself by garnering 13 individual medals at the European, World and Olympic level. Most notable among her accomplishments was winning the floor exercise at the 1979 World Artistic Gymnastics European Championships ahead of Russia’s Nelli Kim and Germany’s Maxi Gnauck….as well as earning a silver medal on uneven bars at the 1980 Olympics….where she was narrowly edged out by Gnauck. 

Russia’s top female gymnast going into these European championships was Elena Mukhina….who won the all-around title at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France….as her career was on the rise and she was widely touted as the next great gymnastics star….until right after this 1979 competition when she broke her leg which left her out of several competitions….and the recovery from that injury combined with pressure to master a dangerous and difficult tumbling move called the Thomas saito caused her to break her neck just two weeks before the opening of the 1980 Summer Olympics…. which left her as a quadriplegic just one month past the age of 20 until her death in 2006

Natalia Shaposhnikova is a former Soviet artistic gymnast….who was a two-time Olympic champion….and Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR.  She was known for her risky, original skills and expressive choreography…..especially on balance beam and floor exercise….which she won gold and silver respectively in these 1979 European Women’s Championships. 

All that being said makes this video history in the making…..and MUST SEE TV for any and all fans of women’s gymnastics.


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