Few gymnasts have managed to make
a lasting impression in only a few years on the senior scene, but Olga Gontar
did just that. In just two years as a senior gymnast, Gontar became one of the
best-liked athletes of her time.
Born in Minsk on January 11, 1979,
Gontar started training as a 6-year-old. In a short time she came under the
guidance of Irina Leparskaya and Galina Krylenko at club Dynamo Minsk.
Gontar's pure lines and extraordinary elegance catapulted her to stardom as
soon as she began competing internationally. In 1991, the 12-year-old Gontar
won the first of three consecutive all-around titles at the Schmiden
International. Just two years later she would make her mark by taking the
all-around gold at the European Junior Championships by more than .200. She
also came in first on both ball and ribbon and was second with rope.
The fair and lithe Gontar made her
senior debut at the 1994 Gymnastics Masters competition, where she finished
6th in the all-around and scored a silver with ribbon. At the European
Championships that same year, Gontar tied with better-known teammate Larissa
Lukyanenko for 5th place -- she also narrowly missed a medal in the rope and
hoop finals. An excellent performance gave Gontar the bronze at the Goodwill
Games, where she received some of the most appreciative applause of all the
competitors. She placed 5th again at the 1994 World Championships, and
qualified to all four apparatus finals in the company of some of the world's
1995 would be Gontar's last and
busiest year in rhythmic. She won a pair of bronze medals at the Alfred Vogel
Invitational (where she also won rope and placed 3rd with ribbon) and European
Cup. Errors cost her dearly at Corbeil (where she was 9th) and the Medico Cup
(where she was 7th), but she rebounded to 6th at the second European Cup
(where she added a gold for ball) and 5th at the Grand Prix of Belgium. Her
sweep of the silver medals at the 1995 Gymnastics Masters competition may have
been impressive, but she staked her claim to favorite status by tying with
Ukrainian Yekaterina Serebrianskaya for the gold at that year's DTB Cup.
Before Gontar could compete at the
World Championships, reports surfaced that a back injury was forcing her out
of the sport. But insiders hinted that Gontar's retirement had less to do with
injury and more to do with her rocky relationship with her coaches. The
gymnast's strong opinions and unwillingness to obey her trainers were probably
the deciding factors in Gontar's stepping out of rhythmic at the age of 16.
Olga Gontar's fluid grace is what
stands out in her exercises. Her 1994 Latin-flavored hoop featured spirited
dance and floating leaps. But even better is her moving 1995 ball, which took
full advantage of her long lines and perfect extension. Crowds were always
awed by her innovative ending, in which she picked up the ball with the bottom
of her foot and deposited it squarely in the small of her back while in a
After her retirement, Gontar
disappeared from the RG radar for several years. But in 2000 she performed an
exhibition routine at the Salon de la Lingerie apparel convention in Paris,
and she has recently signed on as a fashion model with the Names Modeling
Agency in Milan, Italy. Gontar
currently appears in a lingerie advertisement.
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© 1999-2002. This page was created on October
25, 2000 and last updated on November 3, 2000.