Russia’s most successful gymnast, Svetlana Khorkina’s legend lives on | Legends Live On

She’s a sports legend. She’s a gymnastics legend
throughout the world. I paved the way for gymnastics
in the 21st century and for the great gymnasts. To stay ten years at this level
is something unique. And she has this charisma, a certain attitude
that makes you notice her. I’d have a one-on-one
discussion with every spectator in the room. I said to her,
“You’re not some rag! “Go on! Show them!
You’re a great athlete “and they can’t just
get rid of you!” Calling her a diva
was a real compliment. For her, a diva was a magical
and inaccessible person. (LEGENDS LIVE ON) (BELGOROD, RUSSIA) Hey! – Hello, dear.
– Hi! We’re home! When you come home,
it always smells good! Warmth, pleasant smells…
that’s the smell of home! Cheers! Svetlana, I want to show you a
photo of when you were little. This one is my favourite. When you were little,
you didn’t eat much, so I thought
I’d take you to a gym. Nastya and Olga said, “Let her go to a gym!
She’ll run around everywhere!” Our neighbour’s daughter
took gymnastics classes. They signed Svetlana up
because she wouldn’t eat, thinking exercise
would give her an appetite. Of course, I was scared… Gymnastics can
lead to injuries. I was afraid her back,
her legs, her arms would be damaged. Competitive sports
always leave scars! I was a tall girl and atypical
for artistic gymnastics. I was like a pole
and way too thin. It was much harder for me to do what the other,
normal-sized girls were doing, who corresponded to
the general standards. With gymnasts,
we’re used to seeing tiny, slightly muscular girls. But not her.
She was extremely slender. The key person in her life
was her coach. Nobody else of the coaches
wanted to take this too tall girl in their group. Boris Pilkin just decided
to take the risk. He was the coach who
managed to use her disadvantage to create a new type
of gymnastics. Then you kept growing
and growing… You won the cup.
You got the gold medal. In ’94 and ’95, people started
noticing this adolescent girl. There was something about her, and it started to
show in the results – her total ease
on the uneven bars. And ’96 was the first
confirmation of her talent. (ATLANTA 1996) It was incredible! There were so many
different people, nationalities, countries…! I’d never participated
in a competition, in a stadium this gigantic. It was overwhelming. Now, ladies and gentlemen,
for our next competitor, from the Russian Federation – Svetlana Khorkina! Svetlana, 17 years old,
from Belgorod, Russia. She now lives in Moscow. At 1.65cm, Svetlana is
the tallest female gymnast in tonight’s competition. She truly exploded. Suddenly,
Svetlana Khorkina wasn’t just an unusually tall gymnast. I immediately set the tone – “Hey, now you
have to deal with me. “And you’ll have no other
choice but to love me!” Your Olympic champion and gold medallist
for the women’s uneven bars. My childhood dream
became true in ’96. As a girl, I dreamt of
being an Olympic champion. When I was on the podium
with my gold medal, with my country’s
flag waving… I thought,
“My dream has come true!” That’s when she begins
racking up her titles. In ’97 she was world champion, in ’98 she was European
champion in St Petersburg among her fellow citizens. In three years, she became
the only gymnast that mattered. (BELGOROD, RUSSIA) This sculpture is dedicated to Svetlana Khorkina, two-time
gold medallist in gymnastics. In other words – me! And that’s the Belgorod sports
centre with my name on it – Svetlana Khorkina. Why this pose? Because, during my exercises
on the balance beam, there were different
elements of choreography, and this was one of them. I had another hairstyle,
but I was like this. That’s how the sculpture of gymnast Svetlana Khorkina
was born. That’s why… I also had a ponytail. She was sort of
“Queen Khorkina”. And she had this charisma,
a certain attitude that made you notice her. When you call her a diva, she doesn’t see anything
negative about that, because a diva is someone
magical and inaccessible. Svetlana Khorkina! She really used theatrics and would interact
with the audience. It was her hairstyle,
her make-up, the leotards she’d wear. I would have
a one-on-one discussion with every spectator in the room. “Queen Khorkina” would arrive, and that was part
of the character she’d play. A diva basically is someone
who knows well their price, who doesn’t like people
telling them what to do. In short, “I’m the queen, only the queen
and nothing but the queen.” And that is a perfect
description of Khorkina. (SYDNEY 2000) At the Olympics in Sydney,
she was the favourite. She was considered
contender number one for the all-around title. It was a golden age. I was in great shape,
the best of my career. And I had one objective – absolute supremacy
at the Olympics. Nobody had a chance against me. And when they started
the general competition, we began with the vault. The warm-ups started,
a lot of girls before me jumped and ended up
with injuries or fell. There were errors
every two seconds. The girls were falling. I couldn’t understand
where the problem was. What was going on? Everything I’d done
had been perfected to point of being a reflex. She followed it up
with the uneven bars. She also fell
with the uneven bars. I also made an error because
I had nothing left to win! That’s when we learned why there were
so many mistakes on the vault. The judges came out,
checked the apparatus slowly and it appeared that
the horse was 5cm lower. When you work 15, 20, 25 years on a vault that’s
always at the same height, your reflexes are so developed that you couldn’t adapt
if you wanted to. I can’t imagine
what Svetlana must have felt, how she felt at that moment. The federation authorised
the girls to jump again. But, why bother if so many
mistakes had already been made? Then, I went to see my coach
and asked, “We’re going to try
the vault again?” He replied, with great wisdom, “Only you can
make that decision.” Khorkina said,
“No, it’s pointless. “I’m out of the race
for a medal.” In my head, I was so confused that I made a mistake
at the uneven bars. And I realised I couldn’t
aim for a gold medal after a fall like that. Her dream came crashing down. Because her dream was
to win an individual medal in the all-around competition. For those Olympics,
her objective became hopeless. You can’t imagine
what I was feeling. There was an enormous wound in
my heart after those Olympics. I decided to stop. Then, there were
the apparatus finals. On the first day of the finals,
there were the vault and the uneven bars. We’d lost her.
We didn’t know where she was. She’d disappeared.
She was no longer there. We were afraid she wouldn’t
participate in the finals. It turned out she’d gone
out for a walk in Sydney. She’d gone shopping,
got a haircut… My sister came to see me. She said, “Go for it!
Show them you’re a champion!” And, of course, that gave me
more strength, more ferocity, more confidence that I’d been
a victim of circumstance. But I was, in truth,
a champion. The next time she reappeared
in Sydney, it was a completely refreshed, different person. Now she was ready to fight. She still won the gold medal
for uneven bars. Not all top-level athletes would be capable of coming back
after a setback like that. We dreamt of winning this
gold medal for Russia… And I was able to do it! Of course, after that horrible
event, Svetlana’s victory at the uneven bars was
a breath of fresh air for us! We’d been waiting for it
for so long. For Svetlana, of course, but
also for our team, our country. Most people would’ve given up. (ALEXEI NEMOV,
FOUR-TIME GOLD MEDALLIST) But she won gold, which clearly
shows she’s the kind of person who never surrenders. (BELGOROD, RUSSIA) All right, girls! The most important thing
at the beginning of practice when greeting the coach
is to get in line. OK? Line up! Who’s in charge here? The most important thing to
be a champion is discipline! Do you want to
become champions? Whether it’s at
the Olympics or in Belgorod, it’s always an honour. Hello, comrade gymnasts! Hello! Follow me. Walk! How should we walk? By pointing our toes,
of course. And, suck your stomachs in. Come on, lift your legs! Now, sidesteps! Very good! Watch how she does it. And then,
she guides her body… See? She does a kip…
She holds back just a little! Keep your toes pointed out! Got it? She doesn’t only share
her training experience, but also her psychological
experience, her love of work. You got it. Bravo! No matter how hard it is,
you must finish the movement, even if it’s hard. Gymnastics is
a very complex sport. Very difficult. Extremely. Nothing is left to chance. It’s hard work
every day, every day… For the beam
it’s all about repetition. The uneven bars – technique. The vault – speed and strength. And the floor –
feminine elegance. Svetlana was
always our captain. She was always our example
for how to behave in the gym. She’s someone who does
everything to reach the goals she sets for herself. She’s ready to
sacrifice everything. In the end, that’s what made me a famous athlete
throughout the world. (CENTRAL SPORTS ARMY CLUB
(CSKA), MOSCOW) We’re in my office at
the CSK, the army sports club, where I’m vice director. My job consists of working
for the good of Russian sports. After my athletic career,
I was a deputy at the Duma. I also worked in organisations
in civil society, and I’m vice-president
of our gymnastics federation. She can’t do only one thing. She does
so many things at once. That’s how she has made
an important contribution to the development of gymnastics
in Russia and the world. The guiding principle is
sports, and there are branches. Everything stems from
sports and gymnastics. (ON NOVEMBER 3RD 2003, (SVETLANA STARS AS VENUS
AT MOSCOW ART THEATRE) She has always been incredibly
curious to discover everything. And, there’s one thing that has always fascinated
her – theatre and cinema. I was asked to participate in
a play and play the main role. I thought about it and,
of course, I accepted. However, in gymnastics, the common belief is that,
if you stop for two days, you lose your bearings
and that’s dangerous. She didn’t care in the least. And, the premiere took place
at the MKhAT Theatre, which is possibly the biggest
theatre in the country. It was incredible! And, strangely, while everyone
thought her career was waning, in 2003, she won her third
individual world title, which was the first time a gymnast had won three world
titles in overall competition. And she arrived at
the Olympics as favourite. (ATHENS 2004) When she arrived at
the Olympics in Athens, all she lacked
was the gold medal for the overall competition. She was the crowd favourite. The sports world dreamt
Svetlana would win… ..and she didn’t. She finished second, just behind the American
Carly Patterson, who surprised everyone
a little. For me,
it was the last Olympics. And I knew it was the end. There, more than
in 2000, it was over. She’d never win that title, and that was terrible for her. (BELGOROD MUSEUM) Here’s the uniform she wore in Atlanta in ’96
and in 2000 in Sydney. That cursed Sydney… She’s a sports legend. A gymnastics legend
throughout the world. We remember the gymnast by the
emotions they have us put into. Khorkina definitely knew
how to do this with us. She was producing emotions. In gymnastics,
when you create a new move, when you invent one,
it’s named after you. She has eight of them!
That’s unheard of. That’s even more powerful
than a gold medal. Because, as long as gymnastics
develops, you’ll hear, “Go on! Do the Khorkina move!” That will remain in people’s
memories. It’s incredible! She’ll always remain a legend
in Russia and in Belgorod. There was,
and there will always be, someone who put
Belgorod on the map. I paved the way for
gymnastics in the 21st century and for the great gymnasts. When you arrive in Red Square, you feel pride,
and you get goose bumps. Because our soldiers
marched through here, victors of
the Great Patriotic War. They beat fascism
and gave the world peace. When I climbed the Olympic
podiums, deep in my soul, I knew that. And I remembered,
and I tried to act accordingly. I was also defending my country
in the international arena. Of course, when you
represent your country… ..regardless of the level
of competition, you feel pride and, above all,
the Russian Federation. I still have so much
to do for sports in Russia and in the world. I don’t know why,
but I feel it…

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