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Saturday 06 June 2015
06 Jun '15

Late '70s Soviet-era Gymnastics Documentary features Filatova and Mukhina

This fascinating documentary gives an inside look at the late-'70s USSR women's team training. Though it obviously has propaganda/PR intentions, it is nevertheless a fascinating look at a compelling era in Soviet gymnastics.

screenshot of late 1970'sUSSR gymnastics documentaryHere is a late-1970s Soviet gymnastics documentary aiming to show the hard work involved in gymnastics (and to make a heroes out of the coaches), and to deconstruct the facile television glamor of gymnastics. In addition to promoting the tailor-made darling Maria Filatova, it very prominently also features the tragically-fated Elena Mukhina. Mukhina can be seen repeatedly trying to master the Korbut Flip on the bars (which she soon did, and then some, adding a full twist in competition before the move was forever banned by the FIG). Later, her coach reportedly fled the country and never coached gymnastics again after her tragic training accident just prior to the 1980 Olympic Games. Mukhina, paralyzed, died in 2006 in almost total obscurity. It was an era when the coaches received as much adulation and glory as the gymnasts, and some coaches were sometimes more focused on the reputation they gained having trained a champion than they were on the well-being of their gymnasts. Mukhina is only the most tragic example of where such misguided priorities could lead.

This video is from the multimedia archive of anna-pavlova.net, but there is a version of this documentary on Youtube with English subtitles. If you search Mukhina's name, you will find it easily.

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