Vitaly Scherbo is the most successful Olympic male gymnast ever. The irrepressible Belarusian won six of the available eight gymnastic gold medals at Barcelona in 1992. That’s more titles at a single Games than any other gymnast in Olympic history. Scherbo’s achievement also included a remarkable four gold’s in a single day, part of a total career tally of ten Olympic medals.
Seven-year old Scherbo was taken to gymnastic classes by his mother in an attempt to channel her young son’s huge energy. Coaches at his local Minsk club recognised his abilities and arranged for a place at a Belarus state boarding school for talented athletes. There young Scherbo delighted and infuriated his tutors in equal measure, making huge progress as a gymnast but refusing to submit to disciplines imposed on him. The self-styled ‘bad boy of gymnastics’ went to the Barcelona Games but was seen as less of a medal prospect than some of his teammates.
Competing under the banner of the ‘Unified Team,’ the name chosen at the time for sports teams from the former Soviet Union, 20-year old Scherbo scored 9.9 on the parallel bars, the rings and the pommel horse and 9.8 on the vault. An all-round total of 59.025 points gave him a fifth title with the team gold bringing Scherbo’s total to an unprecedented six gold medals. No Olympic gymnast had ever dominated an Olympic competition in such a manner.
Bronze without training
Four years later Scherbo turned up at the 1996 Atlanta Games having failed, by his own admission, to have put in the hours of necessary preparation due to personal reasons. He still won four bronze medals, in the horizontal bars, the parallel bars, the vault and, finally, the all-round gymnastics competition.
Vagas & The Hall of Fame
Scherbo moved to the USA with his wife and daughter and in 1998 opened his eponymous school of gymnastics in Las Vagas.
In 2009 Scherbo was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, described as arguably the greatest male gymnast of all time.