Irina Baraksanova (URS)
Irina Baraksanova was born on July 4, 1969 in Taskhent, Uzbekistan. She began
gymnastics at age 7, and quickly found herself on her way to the national
training center outside of Moscow. One of her first internationals was in Spain,
the 1983 Blume Memorial, where she finished second all-around.
The following year was a glorious one for Ira, winning the 1984 Junior Europeans and medalling in a number of
prestigious internationals (e.g., 1984 Chunichi - 3rd AA; 1984 Moscow News - 2nd
AA). Ira's talent shone brightest on the floor exercise, where she was able to
combine powerful tumbling with exquisite interpretation and dance to classical
pieces. "It is a wonderful feeling when I hear the music and know
that the audience follows with attention what I do," Ira told World
An Olympic year, the 1984 Los
Angeles Games should have been centerpiece event in gymnastics, however the
Soviets boycotted these Games and Baraksanova and her teammates instead found
themselves competing in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia at the "Alternate"
Games. As expected, the Soviet women dominated; Ira brought home a gold team
In 1985, Ira finished fourth overall
after the team event, behind teammates Natalia Yurchenko and Olga Mostepanova
and Romania's Ekaterina Szabo. A maximum three per country can advance to the
all-around finals, and Ira earned that third Soviet spot. The Soviet coaches had
other plans however, and substituted Elena Shushunova and Oksana Omelianchik -
both of whom went on to tie for first in the AA - for the "injured"
Mostepanova and Baraksanova.
Ira petered out after 1985. She
traveled to the US for the 1986 American Cup, but wasn't up to par. She finished
third. She came back in the International Mixed Pairs event though, taking gold
with partner Alexei Tikhonkhih. She missed out on one of the bigger events that
year, the 1986 Goodwill Games, being relegated to the position of team
According the Tribute
to the 80s Web site, she competed at the 1987 Moscow Stars, but was a shadow
of her former self. She retired soon after. Today Ira works as a kindergarten
teacher in Moscow. She shares a child with her first husband, and a set of twins
with her second (current) husband.
Thanks to W. Sakata for this update.
. This page was created on April 10, 2001.