Natalia Laschenova (URS)

Photo used with the expressed 
permission of OEFC

For a complete listing of Laschenova's competitive results, please visit Gymn Forum's Natalia Laschenova Biography.

Natalia Laschenova was born on September 16, 1973. She began gymnastics at age 6 under Gunta Afanasyeva, eventually moving on to be coached by Alexander Miretski of Dynamo Riga. She burst onto the scene in 1985 at the Riga International. Although only aged 12, the meet was held in Laschenova's "back yard" and was a logical testing ground for her physical and mental ability to handle competition. Young Laschenova did not disappoint, finishing 3rd AA and picking up a gold on the balance beam and silver on vault.

The following year would hold Laschenova's first competitions abroad. She won the 1986 Belgian Gym Masters, then a very prestigious competition. As one of the Soviet Union's most promising juniors, Laschenova was also sent to compete in the Junior Friendship Tour (Druzhba). She contributed to her team gold medal, and individually picked up a bronze in the all-around. She polished off the year with strong showings at the 1986 Moscow News (4th AA, 2nd V, 1st FX) and 1986 USSR Spartakiade (2nd V).

Inconsistency began to plague Laschenova in 1987, performing well in some meets (e.g., 2nd AA in the 1987 USA vs USSR and 3rd AA at the 1987 Riga International) but shaky in others (e.g., 8th AA at the 1987 Kraft International). In an interview with IG magazine, her coach attributed it to Laschenova's "changing moods," but the level-headed Laschenova disagreed, "It is simply that my time has not come yet."

Indeed, 1988 showed more promise for the multi-talented youngster (Laschenova was reportedly a master with the Rubik's Cube, working one out before each event). Successful performances at various internationals, the 1988 European Cup (3rd AA), and USSR Cup (3rd AA) vaulted Laschenova onto the 1988 Soviet women's gymnastics team. Although she did not throw her famed triple back in Seoul, the youngest member of the team performed well, contributing to her team's gold and placing 5th AA.

It was in 1989 however, that Laschenova blossomed. Laschenova reigned supreme at the prestigious Chunichi Cup, USSR Championships, and more. Although she finished second at the 1989 World Championships, the crown would have been hers were it not for "new life," the practice of erasing scores from the team competition and starting the AA competition from scratch (Boguinskaia's fall from beam in the team event would have wiped her out of AA contention prior to "new life").

1990 was a difficult year for Laschenova. Although she won a few meets (1990 Moscow News, 1990 Arthur Gander, etc.) injury kept her from competing to potential. As a result, Laschenova missed out on the 1990 World Cup and was relegated to the position of alternate on the 1990 Soviet Goodwill Games team.

In 1991, Laschenova competed at the World University Games (Universiade). Inconsistency thwarted what should have been an easy AA for Lashchenova, though she bounched back in the event finals (2nd V, 2nd BB, and 1st FX). Sadly, this would prove to be one of Laschenova's last competitions. Although most former Soviet republics competed as "Team Unified" at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the Baltic republics (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) enjoyed restored Olympic status at these Games (i.e., Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians could not compete for team Unified in Barcelona, they had to compete for their respective countries instead). Laschenova (and fellow 1980 World Team member Elena Sazonenkova) hailed from Latvia. Because Latvia did not compete as an individual nation at the 1991 World Championships (the qualifier for the 1992 Olympic gymnasts), Latvia could not qualify gymnasts to Barcelona. Knowing that Barcelona was out of reach, Laschenova retired in 1991.

Laschenova went on to marry fellow gymnast Nikolai Tikhonovich, and later remarried, finding happiness with a former boxer named Roman. In 2000, the family moved to the USA where Laschenova started coaching at Southern Tier Gymnastics in New York State. She even coached one of her junior elites, Nicole Ford, to the 2000 US National Championships.

Laschenova has three children, daughters Alexandra and Liliana and son Anthony. Years ago, when asked if then 8-year-old Alexandra was a gymnast, Laschenova purportedly smiled and told IG magazine, "She's good." Alexandra proved that, with such results as her fifth and fourth all-around placements at the 2007 and 2008 JO National Championships.

Alexandra has a scholarship to compete NCAA gymnastics at Auburn, but that may be in jeopardy as the family's green card status is in question

For more information, please visit Natalia's official Web site.

. This page was created August 1, 2000 and last updated on December 7, 2008.


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