Tamara Levinson (USA)
Tribute courtesy of Robin Catalano

Born November 17, 1976, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tamara Levinson is one of the highest ranked American rhythmic gymnasts in history. Although her competitive career was relatively short, she influenced a generation of up-and-coming U.S. performers.

Because of the lack of training facilities in the U.S., Levinson's parents opened Rhythmflex in Rockville, Maryland -- and it is still one of the top U.S. gyms today. After a moderately successful junior career, Levinson burst onto the senior scene at the 1992 Olympic Trials. She vaulted past her more experienced competitors to earn the second American berth to the Olympics, an achievement that surprised no one more than Levinson herself.

But at the Olympics, Levinson's *first* international competition, the feisty 16-year-old gave in to nerves and counted many mistakes for 40th place. No such problems would rattle her at the 1992 World Championships just a few months later, and the expressive teen shot up the ranks to 19th place, an extremely satisfying result for a newcomer from a lesser known rhythmic country.

At the 1993 World Championships, a much improved and more experienced Levinson would find the competition a bit tougher. The new U.S. National Champion placed 27th, the highest of any American athlete. She continued her roll into 1994, once again taking the U.S. National title and receiving the 1994 U.S. Athlete of the Year award. But after that summer's U.S. Olympic Festival, Levinson called it quits, citing exhaustion. But after several months out of training, she had a change of heart and returned to the gym.

In 1995, Levinson picked up where she left off by winning the U.S. Rhythmic Challenge in high style. She garnered the most medals of any rhythmic athlete at the 1995 Pan American Games by winning the silver in the all-around, gold in the team event and ribbon, and a trio of bronzes for rope, ball, and clubs. But at the 1995 Four Continents Championships, a tired Levinson could only muster 6th place in the all-around and 2nd with rope. She decided to retire for good this time, at the ripe old age of 19.

Levinson then transferred her dance skills to the New York theater scene, where she has performed in many different shows -- including popular off-Broadway productions. She is a member of the innovative Antigravity dance troupe, as well as a dancer for several famous hip-hop musicians.

Tamara Levinson made her mark on the U.S. and international rhythmic world by taking chances and performing unusual, eye-catching routines. Her fast-moving 1995 rope and mysterious 1993 ribbon stand out for their ability to showcase both her clean technique and fearless expression. Levinson, despite her short career, still holds the American record for the highest placement ever in a non-boycotted World Championships or Olympic Games.

Update (December 2001). IG reports that Levinson is currently a dancer in Madonna's "Drowned World" tour.

Update  (August 2011) - Levinson was inducted into USAG's Hall of Fame in August 2011. Although she wasn't able to travel to St. Paul, MN she sent a speech to be read in her absence. 

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1999-2011. This page was created on December 2001.




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