Olga Bicherova (URS)

Olga Bicherova, 1981 World Champion.
Photo by Tom Theobald.
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1979 Jr. GDR-USSR: 2nd AA
1981 Junior Friendship Tournament: 1st AA, 1st V
1981 European Championships: 23rd AA, 4th V
1981 World Championships: 1st Team, 1st AA, 8th UB
1981 Chunichi Cup: 1st AA, 1st V, 1st BB
1981 USSR Championships: 4th AA
1982 World Cup: 1st AA, 1st V, 1st FX, 2nd UB, 3rd BB
1982 USA-USSR: 7th AA
1983 European Championships: 1st AA, 1st V, 1st FX
1983 World Championships: 1st T, 5th V
1985 University Games: 1st T
1986 Leningrad International: 6th AA
1987 USA-USSR: 1st T, 8th AA
1988 Champions All: 10th AA

The majority of these results were compiled from information found at Gymn Forum

Born in Moscow, Olga Bicherova was perhaps one of the brightest stars during the Soviet's long gymnastics reign. Olga began gymnastics at age 7 at the CSKA Moska sports school. She was eventually selected to train under the guidance of Boris Orlov, former coach of the Soviet acrobatic gymnastics team and current Dutch National team coach. Orlov was immediately struck by Olga, "Of many girls of approximately the same age, it was her eyes that caught my attention. Her bright and very determined eyes," he told World Gymnastics magazine.

Olga's first major win came at the 1980 Youth Friendship Competition, where she captured the gold in the all-around and on vault. The following year, Olga was selected to represent the Soviet Union at the 1981 European Championships in Madrid, Spain. Unfortunately, serious errors on both bars (8.55) and beam (9.10) caused her to finish a disappointing 23rd overall. A disheartened Olga feared that she would not make the 1981 Soviet World Championship team.

Olga did make the 1981 World team, though not without controversy. Rumor has it that her inclusion on the team stemmed from the fact that none of the other team members originated from Moscow. In addition to being the heart of the Soviet Union, Moscow was also the site of the 1981 World Championships. Regardless of the controversy, Olga more than proved herself at these Championships - she was crowned the 1981 World AA Champion. The youngest ever all-around women's champion expressed her joy to World Gymnastics magazine, "I can't believe it! That I am the World Champion! It is marvelous!...my task was to do my routines without mistakes. I am especially pleased, that I have received the first 10.00 in my life here, in the vault." 

Olga's win did not go without criticism however. Similar to the allegations against some North Korean gymnasts, her youthful appearance at this competition caused many to question her age (supposedly 15), and hence her eligibility to compete. Indeed, at the 1981 TBS Cup held early in 1981 in Japan, Olga was introduced to spectators as being 12 years old. Olga continues to deny reports that she was actually 13 at the time of her AA win. 

Photo by Tom Theobald.
Check out Tom's photography site!

On the heels of her AA win, Olga traveled the globe, competing in Japan, Brazil, Peru, and more. While in Japan, Olga competed in, and won, the prestigious Chunichi Cup. The following year was marked by inconsistency problems again. Although she won the 1982 World Cup, she placed 7th at the USA vs USSR meet!

Olga again showed a bit of inconsistency in 1982 with a 1st place finish in the AA at the World Cup, and a 7th place finish at the USA vs. USSR competition. But, by 1983, Olga again showed her excellence with several first place finishes at the European Championships (1st AA, 1st V, and 1st FX) and as a contributing member to the Soviet's first place team finish at the World Championships. Due to the three per country rule however, Bicherova was unable to defend her crown at the 1983 World Championships (teammates Frolova, Mostepanova, and Yurchenko advanced to the AA). Incidentally, Olga cited Yurchenko as one of her closest friends from Round Lake. Indeed, she even served in Yurchenko's wedding party.

Like many of Olga's renowned Soviet teammates, she never earned the chance to perform at the Olympic Games after the 1984 boycott. Although unable to earn the same results as in her earlier years of competition, a determine Olga continued to compete until 1988! A serious elbow injury forced her retirement from the sport, and perhaps was the cause of many of her difficulties in her later years of competition.

Valentin Mogilny
Photo by Matthew Barber

Shortly before retiring, in 1987, Olga married fellow Soviet gymnastics superstar Valentin Mogilny. . Soon after her retirement, in 1988, Olga began coaching Valentin following a dispute between Valentin and his long-time coach, Vladimiar Astafyev. When questioned about the coach/athlete/husband-wife relationship, Olga told International Gymnast magazine that Valentin was the boss at home, she was the boss in the gym. Further, there wasn't much she felt that she could do for Valentin physically, that she was more of an emotional coach for him. Objections to her coaching him were non-existant in the beginning, mainly because the pair didn't tell anyone that they were doing it, and no one took them seriously until they started getting results.

In 1989 Olga and Valentin welcomed their one and only child into the world, a son named Alexander. Following the break up of the Soviet Union, Olga and her family moved to France. Residing just outside of Paris, Olga works as a coach and, putting her degree in journalism to use, provides television commentary for French Eurosport. For awhile she and Valentin performed in exhibitions all over Europe, this despite urgencies from physicians that even the slightest movements could seriously damage her weakened elbow.

Olga had hoped to coach Valentin to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (as a representative for France), but according to International Gymnast online, a battle with the Russian federation prevented this. Then, just as he'd received official French citizenship, Valentin was stricken with a rare form of cancer. Unfortunately, the stress seems to have taken its toll on Olga and Valentin. According to many French contacts, the couple have been separated for several years now. Their son, Alexander, continues to do gymnastics.

Most recently, Olga has teamed up with Natalia Yurchenko and Svetlana Boguinskaia, becoming business partners in an internet sales company, SBS (Svetlana Boguinskaia Sportswear).

. This page was created on February 21, 2000 and last updated on January 11, 2001.

 

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