Lori Fung (CAN)
Tribute courtesy of Robin Catalano

 

Fung at the 1988 Four Continents Kosice Cup
Photo by Tom Theobald.
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In 1976, 13-year-old Lori Fung began training in rhythmic gymnastics. It turned out to be the perfect fit for the sunny teenager, who would go on to become the world's first rhythmic Olympic Champion.

Fung was born February 21, 1963, in Vancouver, British Columbia. She studied under the great Bulgarian coach Liliana Dmitrova at the Kalev club. Amazingly, Fung competed in her first National Championships just a year after taking up the sport.

It wasn't until 1981 that Fung represented Canada at her first World Championships. She placed 30th, no small feat in a field of Eastern-bloc athletes. After winning the Canadian Nationals in 1982, the perky brunette triumphed at the Four Continents Championships.

1983 saw a dramatic rise for Fung. She again won Canadian Nationals, and also took gold at the Swiss Invitational. She moved up to 23rd all-around at the World Championships. This result, and the knowledge that rhythmic would be included in the next Olympics, fueled Fung's decision to finish high school by correspondence so that she could train in earnest.

After duplicating her Four Continents win in 1984, Fung placed 12th at the Poznan Invitational and 18th at both Corbeil and the Brother Cup. In the face of the Eastern-bloc boycott, Fung rose to the occasion to defeat the strong Romanian and West German contingent at the 1984 Olympics. Although some people dismiss Fung's win as luck, it was most assuredly deserved. Clearly, her clean technique, pretty choreography, and enthusiastic presentation captivated both audience and judges alike.

The new Olympic champion found herself a celebrity in her home country. She was invited to perform for VIPs, such as Pope John Paul II, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Elton John, and the Prime Minister of Canada. She continued training, and placed 9th at the fully attended 1985 World Championships.

Fung's gymnastics was characterized by precise body and apparatus technique and cheerful expression. She put not only difficulty but also heart and soul into her various exercises, and never failed to rouse crowd support. Most memorable of her lovely, light exercises are two from her Olympic set: a wonderfully elegant ball routine and plucky ribbon exercise. 

While traveling to the World Championships in Varna in 1987, Fung endured an attack of appendicitis and was rushed to the hospital. She was forced to sit out the competition, but resumed training for a short time after her recovery.

After retiring in early 1988, the seven-time Canadian National Champion was inducted into the British Columbia Hall of Fame and the Canadian Hall of Fame. She was also given the Order of Canada, one of the highest awards bestowed in her country. Fung married basketball player J.D. Jackson in 1991, and also became a judge. In addition, she has served as a coach for the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian National Teams.

Lori Fung is now the co-owner and head coach of Club Elite in Vancouver. She has coached several Canadian National Team members, such as Camille Martens and Senka Kovacevic. Fung has been the honorary Chairperson of the Canadian Cancer Society, and has appeared on TV, radio, and in person to promote fitness in Canada. In 1999, the tireless Fung was given perhaps her highest honor yet: she was one of only four rhythmic gymnasts named to the FIG Hall of Fame.

Lori and her husband have one child, a son named Alexander.


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2000-2002. This page was created on February 3, 2000.

 

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