with the expressed permission of Melissa,
webmaster of Rhythmic Web
On October 25, 1977, in
Simferopol, Ukraine, Yekaterina Serebrianskaya was born. Only
four years later she began training in rhythmic gymnastics with
the famous Irina and Albina Derjugina. Immediately, the
Derjuginas recognized their young charge as a natural, heir to a
line of champions that had included their illustrious former
students Alexandra Timochenko and Oksana Skaldina.
At the 1991 Junior European
Championships Serebrianskaya placed 5th in the preliminaries, but
did not advance to finals because Soviet teammates Amina Zaripova
and Yelena Vitrichenko outdistanced her. Competing for Ukraine
the following year, the 15-year-old Serebrianskaya placed 5th
again, this time at the World Championships.
In her early years, the lanky
gymnast was known as a Timochenko imitator, even performing her
hoop exercise to the theme from Phantom of the Opera,
just as her teammate had. But as she matured, Serebrianskaya
developed an easy elegance that was all her own. In 1993 she
counted her first major victory at the European Cup. The
statuesque blonde would also take second place at the 1993 World
Championships, plus a medal in each of the event finals.
Untimely mistakes at both the 1994
European and World Championships would leave Serebrianskaya out
of the medals in 4th, although she would come storming back in
the finals of the latter competition, winning gold on each event.
1995 would be Serebrianskaya's biggest yet; not only did she win
more medals with rope, ball, and clubs at the World
Championships, but also she tied the legendary Bulgarian Maria Petrova for the
all-around title. At the 1996 World Championships (apparatus
finals only), Serebrianskaya conceded her rope title to Larissa
Lukyanenko, but picked up her second gold medal for ball.
In Atlanta, Serebrianskaya gave
her own heart pause by making nervous mistakes in the preliminary
round of the Olympics. In finals she performed her memorable Kalinka rope routine almost flawlessly, then showed
two more strong exercises with ball and clubs. But at the very
end of an otherwise clean ribbon routine to Bumble Boogie, Serebrianskaya was forced to stop and repeat a toss
when the ribbon refused to fly through the air. In the most
controversial Olympic finish in rhythmic history, the Ukrainian
was rewarded with a 9.833 -- a higher score than many gymnasts
had received for clean routines. This "gift" kept her
firmly rooted in first place.
1997 would be a problematic period
for Serebrianskaya. Rumors circulated that the usually slim
athlete had gained weight, gotten out of shape, and lost her
edge. An uninspired showing at the 1997 Europeans (3rd place)
would do little to dispel the talk. When the 1997 World
Championships finally came around, Serebrianskaya withdrew just
before the competition began, citing the sudden illness of her
mother (also her coach). This act only fueled the rumor mill, and
a headline in Soveyetsky Sport proclaimed, "If
Mama Isn't a Judge, I Won't Go!" The Serebrianskayas
were locked in a power struggle with the Ukrainian Federation,
which was said to favor arch-rival Yelena Vitrichenko, whose
mother and coach, Nina Vitrichenko, was sent as a judge to the
competition. Wisely, Serebrianskaya kept a low profile until the
1998 Europeans, where she performed some of her best-constructed
routines. She again wound up 3rd in the all-around.
Never known for ground-breaking
choreography or original elements, Serebrianskaya is instead
recognized for her beautiful extension and almost flawless body
and apparatus technique. She may not have been the most creative
or expressive gymnast, but she combined excellent execution with
a supremely self-confident air and amazing consistency. Although
she didn't win the crowd adoration of her flashier Russian
rivals, Serebrianskaya did earn the titles they never achieved.
Conflict with the Ukrainian
Federation did not cease even after Serebrianskaya's solid finish
at 1998 Europeans. She finally gave up the fight, quietly
retiring that summer. Serebrianskaya, appropriately enough,
turned to a modeling career in her post-gymnastics life. She now
owns Serebryannya Zvezda (translates to Silver Star),
a Kiev-based modeling agency that manages a variety of former
(April 29, 2000). Surprising news from Ukraine: reigning Olympic champion
Yekaterina Serebrianskaya will give birth to her first child this summer.
According to Serebrianskaya, the father is Igor Voronov, whom she describes as
her "ideal man." The former gymnast reports that fame is not an object
of Voronov's, and although she declines to mention his occupation she says,
"It does not matter to me. I feel very happy when I'm with him."
Serebrianskaya hopes the baby will be a boy, but says that if it's a girl she
will be a gymnast.
(August 29, 2000). According to Sport-Express, Serebrianskaya gave birth to a baby boy on the morning of August
28, 2000. The baby measured 50cm and weighed in at 4kg 700g. Congratulations! Many
thanks to KB for this update.
(September 27, 2000). According to new
grandmother Lyubov Serebrianskaya, daughter Yekaterina and grandson Yevgeny are
healthy and well. Also, Yekaterina recently founded an athletes' grant program.
(August 25, 2001). Serebrianskaya has closed down operations at her Silver Star modeling
agency in Kiev. Serebrianskaya, mother of a 9-month-old son and founder of a new athletic scholarship fund, shut the doors on her business as a result of her hectic schedule. The Ukrainian favorite,
who in a newspaper article referred to the agency as "a hobby, a waste of free time and money; entertainment, but nothing more," is now working on penning a memoir and producing a possible
fall TV project.
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© 1999-2002. This page was created on
September 20, 1999 and last updated on September 27, 2000.