Alexandra Timochenko (URS)
Tribute courtesy of Robin
Rhythmic gymnastics legend
Alexandra Timochenko was born on February 18, 1972 in Boguslav,
Ukraine. She began gymnastics later than most world-class
athletes, at the age of 8. But the hard-working Timochenko,
coached by the famous mother-daughter team of Albina and Irina
Derjugina, was to become one of the most important figures in
An impressive 7th-place finish at
the 1987 European Junior Championships marked the gentle Soviet's
first major international result. In her first year as a senior,
Timochenko would shoot straight to the top of the rankings with
gold medals in the all-around, rope, hoop, and clubs at the 1988
European Championships. The tall and willowy 16-year-old would
score a perfect 40.000 in the 1988 Olympic final, which,
astonishingly, earned her only the bronze medal. Nevertheless,
her flawless form, great difficulty, and expressive elegance
stole the spotlight from her more experienced company.
Timochenko was almost unbeatable
in 1989, taking five out of six golds at the Sarajevo World
Championships. Her streak would continue through numerous other
international competitions, although she started to feel the
pressure from up-and-coming teammates. She would grab her second
European title in 1990, but spent the rest of the year
flip-flopping titles with the steadily rising Oksana
1991, Timochenko seemed poised to earn her second World title
after a very strong early season. However, in Athens Timochenko's
difficulty level could not match Skaldina's and the former World
Champion had to settle for silver. Inconsolable, Timochenko
sobbed openly even after receiving a perfect score with rope.
Event finals would be her revenge, though, as she swiped all 4
titles out from under the nose of all-around winner Skaldina.
Fans held their breath when a
slightly shaky Timochenko placed second to the other Oksana -- Kostina
-- at the 1992 European Championships. When the Olympics
finally came around, Timochenko showed some nervous flutters
again but still wound up on top after preliminaries. In a
mistake-ridden all-around final, she finally proved herself the
true master in dance and apparatus technique, and won her second
Olympic medal -- this one gold.
The strength of Timocheko's work
lay in her virtuosity of performance and great ability to
interpret music. She was never afraid to try something different,
whether it took the shape of her envelope-pushing flexibility
elements or an intense modern ribbon routine choreographed to a
Michael Jackson song. Her best routines combined great difficulty
and fantastic body technique with innovative apparatus handling
and the performance sensibility of an actress. Among her many
fine exercises, several stand out: her classically powerful 1988
hoop, seamless and refined 1989 ball, beautifully controlled 1989
ribbon, and coolly upbeat 1992 rope and clubs.
Although the Ukrainian Federation
desperately tried to convince her to continue after the Olympics,
Timochenko, then 20 years old, quietly retired. She enrolled in
the Goethe Institute to study German language, while
simultaneously completing her studies at the Kiev University of
Physical Culture and Sports. She spent some time coaching in
Germany before getting married and making the permanent move to Wien, Austria.
These days, "Sasha"
divides her time between her home in Wien and coaching at club
TSG Soflingen in Ulm, Germany. In a recent interview she
declared, "Now I rarely think of or remember my
titles." Even though Timochenko doesn't contemplate her many
titles, the rhythmic community could never forget her amazing
Timochenko was born on
February 18, 1972.
© 1999-2002. This page was created on August
8th, 1999 and last updated July 2004.