Being a great gymnast during the
period of Bulgarian rhythmic dominance often meant medal-less
finishes in competition after competition. Unfortunately, this is
true of Dalia Kutkaite, one of the best gymnasts of the early
1980s. Kutkaite was born on February 11, 1965 in Vilnius,
Lithuania. Coached by Aldona Giriuniene, Kutkaite achieved
success early on. Although she placed only 4th at the 1981 USSR
National Championships, she placed a strong 5th at that year's
World Championships. She even made all 4 event finals, but came
In 1982, Kutkaite rose to
prominence with a win at the European Championships. She followed
up her triumph with two more gold medals (clubs and ribbon) and a
silver (hoop). The petite blonde went into the 1983 World
Championships as one of the favorites, but a drop with hoop and
miscues with ribbon would leave her in 5th place again. In event
finals she came back to take a bronze with hoop. Her perfect 10
with clubs, however, almost received no medal; it wasn't until
the Soviet coaches protested the high score of Bulgarian Anelia Ralenkova that Kutkaite
pulled into a tie for bronze on that event.
1984 was the test of Kutkaite's
fortitude. Again, she could not break into the medals, winding up
in the familiar 5th position at European Championships. Two
apparatus medals -- a silver for ball and bronze for clubs --
paled in comparison to the multiple medals won by teammate Galina Beloglazova. The
19-year-old Kutkaite's position on the Soviet team was becoming
Although she traveled to Spain
with the Soviet team for the 1985 World Championships, Kutkaite
was passed over for a competition spot in favor of up-and-coming
teammates Tatiana Drutchinina and Marina Lobatch. Their fine
performances in the meet simultaneously cemented their status on
the Soviet team and sealed Kutkaite's fate.
Always a great technician,
Kutkaite is also known for her pleasant personality and perky
style. Her pretty 1983 hoop and ribbon routines were crowd
favorites, but Kutkaite's best event was undoubtedly the clubs.
In an upbeat 1983 exercise, she displayed her excellent technique
with a variety of complex tosses and catches, including
under-the-leg and behind-the-back work. But it was her peppy
dance and ability to play to the crowd that caught the attention
of judges and spectators.
Kutkaite moved to Spain in the
late 1980s, where she took a coaching position at Club RG
Marbella in Malaga. Under her guidance, several of the club's
gymnasts won medals at the Spanish National Championships. In
1998 she became the selector for the Spanish Junior National Team
and assistant coach to National Group Head Coach Nancy Usero.
(Coincidentally, Kutkaite's former coach also works as a trainer
in Spain, but she has not experienced her student's level of
success.) Dalia Kutkaite now lives and works in Madrid. She is
the married mother of a daughter, a gymnast who competes
nationally for Club RG Marbella.
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October 29, 1999.