(The Great) Oksana Omelianchik(URS)

"I wish there were two kinds of competitions: One for difficulty, and another for veterans who perform with beauty and for the pleasure of the spectators." - Omelianchik (IG March 1997)

Photo by Tom Theobald
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1983 Spartikiade: 5th AA
1983 Drushba: 4th AA, 1st UB, 1st FX
1984 Moscow News: 5th AA
1984 Olomouc Alternate Games: alternate
1985 European Championships: 3rd AA, 1st B, 2nd FX
1985 Moscow News: 2nd AA
1985 USSR National Championships: 1st AA
1985 World Championships: 1st T, 1st AA, 1st FX
1986 Goodwill Games: 1st T, 3rd AA, 2nd FX
1986 World Cup: 3rd AA, 2nd V, 2nd UB, 1st BB, 3rd FX
1986 World Sports Fair: 1st T, 1st AA, 1st UB, 1st BB, 1st FX
1987 World Championships: 2nd T, 5th AA
1988 Olympic Games: 1st T (alternate)
1988 Kraft International: 3rd AA
1988 USSR Cup: 22nd AA
1988 US vs. USSR: 1st T, 3rd AA (tie)
1989 USSR National Championships: 1st regional team
1996 Cup of Buratino

Results courtesy of Gymn Forum and television broadcasts

 


It is difficult to image gymnastics from the mid-80s without thinking of the great Soviet star Oksana Omelianchik.

Omelianchik's sporting career began at age 5, in an ice rink. Omelianchik enjoyed figure skating, but her coach suggested that she was better suited to gymnastics and so her mother enrolled her in a local sports school. What a blessing it is that she eventually switched to gymnastics!

Quickly, Omelianchik was handed over to coach Tatiana Perskaia. Omelianchik's skills were innovative (she, not Dominique Dawes, was the first to perform back-to-back tumbling lines), her music refreshing (her "Birdie" music was hardly stock music), and more importantly, she had an ability to project her personality. Omelianchik was a true performer, with an uncanny ability to connect with the audience -- She cast a spell on her audience.

Performing in her first World Championships in 1985, Omelianchik suffered problems and failed to qualify for the AA (the same fate bestowed Elena Shushunova). In a controversial move, head coach Andrei Rodienko pulled "injured" teammates Irina Baraksonova and Olga Mostepanova out of the AA line-up, substituting Omelianchik and Shushunova. The two did not disappoint, becoming co-World champions. Omelianchik's gold on the floor exercise was "icing on the cake."

Photo by Tom Theobald
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Omelianchik continued to wow audiences, but suffered from some inconsistency. Although more than deserving and more than capable of contributing to team gold, the Soviets left her off the 1988 Olympic team. Instead, she traveled to Seoul as an alternate.

Despite the disappointment of not making the Olympic team, Omelianchik continued to train following Seoul. Then, in December 1989, she discovered that there had been a Soviet training camp and she had not been invited -- the Soviet machine no longer needed her. In effect, her retirement had been announced without her even knowing about it.

Omelianchik left her sport, and the Ukraine.Once in the USA, Omelianchik quickly married (to Boz Mofid - Aurelia Dobre's current husband), though the marriage was extremely brief. Following the failed marriage, she returned to the Ukraine and in 1991 married her childhood sweetheart, Dmitry. That same year, Omelianchik gave birth to their first child, a daughter they named Anastasia. During this time, Omelianchik worked as a coach at the club at which she used to train, in Kiev.

Photo used with the expressed permission of Beth Squires.

The following year, in 1992, Omelianchik received an unexpected but welcomed outpouring of support from her Japanese fans. Omelianchik's younger brother, Dimitri, lost all sight in his right eye, and partial sight in his left eye, as a result of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. IG correspondent Hiroshi Tsunoda learned of the situation and convinced a friend to run an article about Dimitri in a Japanese newspaper. Through donations from Omelianchik's Japanese fans, as well as the Japanese Athletics Association, Dimitri was invited to Japan in July of 1992 for eye surgery. Although his right eye could not be saved, Dimitri has enough vision in his left eye to carry out most daily tasks. (The December 1993 issue of International Gymnast has a lovely photo of Hiroshi Tsunoda with Omelianchik's mother and brother).

A few years later, Omelianchik left the Ukraine to work in the USA and Belgium. Permission to take her daughter with her was denied, so Dmitry's parents took care of Anastasia in Moscow. She returned to the Ukraine and began working on a Master's dissertation on the code of points, a project she finished in 2000 and one which helped her secure a position at Kiev State University. 

Omelianchik  at the 2001 Worlds
Photo by Don Johnson.

Omelianchik continues to play a large role in the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation. She is an accomplished judge, having worked the 1998 Junior Europeans and 2001 World Championships, for example.

On December 21, 2000, delegates of the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation met in Kiev and elected Omelianchik to the position of vice president of the women's technical committee. In April 2001, she was named the head of the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation's women's technical committee. She also dabbles in choreography, having recently choreographed Ukrainian National team member Olga Roschupkina's 2001 floor routine.

Omelianchik balances her work duties with parenthood to son Ivan (born 1997) and daughter Anastasia, who keeps busy with many hobbies, though none gymnastics related. Anastasia chose to drop her tumbling/gymnastics classes.

Omelianchik was born on January 2, 1970.

. This page was created February 11, 1999 and last updated on January 11, 2002.

 

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