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22 Jul 1976
Montreal 1976

Magnificent Kim supreme in Comaneci’s shadow - Gymnastics

It is a reflection on much of Nelli Kim’s stellar gymnastics career that she left the 1976 Montreal Olympics with three gold medals and was even then something of a bridesmaid.

Yet while Romania’s Nadia Comaneci stole the show at the Montreal Forum with a string of perfect scores and the all-around title, the steely-eyed Kim was equally dazzling.

The Soviet competitor had the misfortune of starting her career as Olga Korbut and Lyudmila Turischeva were dominating the women’s gymnastics scene.

The latter had taken the all-around title at the Munich Olympics in 1972 while Korbut won the hearts of millions with a series of captivating performances that netted her three gold medals.

Kim, who was born in Kazakhstan and had a Korean father, was slowly emerging from the shadow of her more renowned team-mates, who remained the darlings of the press as the gymnasts converged on the Montreal Forum.

Two years earlier she had been part of the successful Soviet team at the 1974 World Championships in Bulgaria and enjoyed a clutch of wins at the pre-Games warm-up event in Montreal.

Despite Comaneci scoring the first ever perfect score for a female gymnast at the Olympics, the Soviet Union still completed a comfortable win in the team event, with Kim and Turischeva recording the most impressive scores.

Comaneci scored two further perfect scores in the all-around and only Kim was able to keep in touch, matching the Romanian by recording the first ever Olympic 10 for a woman in the vault.

However, she lost out by seven hundredths and had to settle for the silver medal. She went on to win the gold in the vault and added another perfect score to top the podium in the floor exercises.

Four years later, in front of her home crowd in Moscow, she added another team and vault gold to conclude a stunning Olympic career.

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