Bronwyn’s Vika post sent me down memory lane. Right back to 1996 Euros, which my 11 year old self was lucky enough to attend. I had a fairy godfather great uncle with a love of the arts, and he took me and my sisters. It was an absolutely defining experience. That was where I fell in love with Boginskaya, in what for me will always be one of the best comebacks in the history of the sport.
She was absolutely fabulous. Don’t just take my word for it. Here she is on bars, taking a first rotation lead. Look at that pencil straight DLO.
At 23, in those days, you might as well have been dead. Even Chusovitina was still a teenager back then. Boginskaya had literally returned from beyond the grave.
Of course, come Atlanta there were a few old biddies doing sterling stuff. I’m not sure she was even the oldest there- Eszter Ovary of Hungary was another 23 year old competing, plus the 22 year old and still lovely Onodi. Here she is with a beautifully presented compulsory floor, which ran out of steam a bit at the end so don’t bother watching the final pass.
But Boginskaya was definitely the most high profile of all the babushkas in 96, and her Euros AA silver was a magnificent achievement. She led all the way through, until the final rotation. After she hit vault creditably well, I thought she’d won. Hopped landing, but everything else was great and the body tension was beautiful, for a decent 9.731 average.
I had, however, forgotten Lilia. Who was finishing, inevitably enough, on floor.
This was a mesmerising performance live, even though I was willing her to fall. Stunning. Every single one of that audience was in the palm of her hand:
People can make all the criticisms they want of the choreo being cheesy and the fouettes going all over the place, and they’re right, but all I can say is that if you were there, you understand.
Anyway, I threw a big fuckoff sulk and didn’t want to stand up for the Ukrainian anthem (sorry Bronners) but my mum made me. These days I don’t much like standing up for any national anthem, the British one included, but that’s for reasons of politics not pique.
Anyway, Boginskaya. She was clearly thrilled with her performance and was absolutely inspiring. I, along with St Barry, thought she’d be a force to be reckoned with in Atlanta, but sadly it didn’t turn out that way. Still though, an amazing comeback and the nearest woman to three European AA titles since Nadia. Maybe she didn’t quite get there, but nonetheless I shall drink to that.
Let’s finish on her AA floor, which for my money was better and certainly much more subtle than the set she used in Atlanta:
Show them how it’s done, Sveta. You own it.