Galina Beloglazova (URS)
Tribute courtesy of Robin Catalano
Galina Beloglazova's name might
not gain much recognition from the new generation of gymnastics
fans, but this Soviet legend is one of the most beloved rhythmic
athletes of all time. She is also, not coincidentally, one of the
world's most accomplished gymnasts. Beloglazova was born in
Astrakhan, Russia, on June 10, 1967. She began training at just 5
years old under Ludmila Tichomirova, who would coach the talented
gymnast throughout her career.
Beloglazova emerged onto the scene as a junior, in 1980. As a
senior, she was chosen as the alternate to the Soviet team at the
1982 European Championships, but her performance in practice so
impressed her coaches that they put the 15-year-old in the
competition lineup. She wound up 7th in the all-around and
qualified to two event finals.
In 1983, Beloglazova gave the
Bulgarian team a shock by nearly winning the world championship
title. If not for a drop on the very last note of her clubs
exercise, Beloglazova would have actually defeated Bulgarian star Diliana Gueorgiueva. Instead
she tied for silver and won three more medals in apparatus finals
(gold with ball and ribbon and silver with hoop). Most
impressively, she counted four perfect 10s in this competition.
At the 1984 Europeans, Beloglazova
gave a stunning gold medal-winning performance. She also won
medals on each of the 4 apparatus -- gold with ribbon, silver
with ball, and bronze with hoop and clubs. The audience nearly
rioted at her every move, and cheered so loudly at the end of her
routines that the following gymnast often had to wait several
minutes before she could begin her exercise.
Beloglazova took one of her few
non-medal finishes at the 1985 World Championships, where she
wound up in 4th place. Three more apparatus medals -- including
another gold with ribbon -- would be her consolation prize. A
stronger performance at the 1986 Europeans gave the famously
beautiful blonde the all-around bronze, as well as another pair
of golds for ribbon and ball and a bronze for clubs. In event
finals she received the loudest cheers of any gymnast, and was
presented with flowers before she even left the carpet after her
Later that year, Beloglazova would
perform in her last major competition, the Goodwill Games. She
finished 3rd all-around, 2nd with clubs, and 1st with ball.
Again, she was cheered so heartily that she left the floor near
tears. While at the event, her great beauty won her yet another
prize: the title of "Miss Goodwill Games." The day
after the Games ended, Beloglazova married boyfriend Heino Endo,
the renowned Estonian basketball player. Beloglazova's legacies
to the sport are many, but she is best remembered for her
musicality, a skill cultivated during her years of music study as
a teen. Her exercises are characterized by amazing interaction
with the apparatus; she performs not out to the audience, but
inward, as if expressing her love for the apparatus. Her balletic
1983 ball to the music from Giselle and 1983 classical
ribbon -- which featured a crowd-pleasing backspin within the
snaking ribbon -- are two of her finest. In addition, her
photogenic 1986 ball, in which the ball seemed to move
magnetically over her body, and dramatic, flowing 1986 ribbon
that showcased her high turning leaps are never forgotten by
fans. Beloglazova, the unopposed master of the ribbon from 1983
to 1986, was a photographer's dream and an eternally poised
After her retirement, Beloglazova
went on to earn degrees in English and German language. She is
now a coach in Moscow, where she lives with her husband and young
son. In 1999, the much-admired Beloglazova received confirmation
of her place in gymnastics history when she was inducted into the FIG Hall of Fame.
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© 1999-2002. This page was created on
October 29, 1999 and last updated on September 12, 2000.