Although the Olympic Games can often be the showcase for sport’s biggest showmen, it can also be a theatre where the quiet men come to the fore.
As the men’s all-round competition neared, the talk was of the wayward Russian prodigy Dmitri Bilozerchev and whether he could fulfil his destiny and claim the crown of the world’s greatest gymnast.
Bilozerchev, a world champion at 16, had a tendency to attract all the wrong kinds of the headlines.
In 1985 he shattered his leg in a road accident after drinking too much champagne and taking his father’s car out for a drive.
Surgeons pondered amputation, such was the severity of his injuries, but he recovered in time to take the 1987 world title and gold in South Korea seemed the logical next step.
However, while Bilzerchev was dominating the front and back pages of the newspapers, Valery
Artemov, his Russian team mate, was quietly going about his business.
He was actually unbeaten in all competitions in 1988 and went into the Games in South Korea with a quiet confidence.
Artemov, born in the town of Vladimir, only took up gymnastics at the age of eight following a sports recruitment drive at his school.
He quickly showed he was a natural and flourished under the intense training programme and competition of the time, and was eager to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero Nikolai Andrianov .
Consistency paid off for Artemov. He scored the top marks in the horizontal bar, parallel bars, and floor exercises in a fabulous demonstration of all-round skill.
His team mate Valery Liukin finished in silver medal position while Bilozerchev was left to rue a dreadful error in the opening horizontal bars which left him with too much to do and he finished in third place.
Artemov edged the unfortunate Liukin into silver medal position in the individual horizontal bar and parallel bars before the trio of Russians joined forces for a crushing win in the men’s overall team competition.
For good measure, Artemov contributed most points than any team member.
Artemov moved to the United States, where he now runs his own successful gym training the champions of tomorrow.