Whatever Happened to
Elvira Saadi?

Saadi's Competitive Results:

1967 Spartakiade for School Girls: 1st AA
1970 USSR National Championships: 4th AA
1971 Spartakiade: 7th AA
1972 Olympics: 1st T, 8th AA
1973 USSR National Championships: 1st AA, 1st BB, 1st FX
1973 Champions All: 1st AA
1973 World University Games: 3rd AA, 1st V (tie)
1974 Moscow News: 3rd AA, 1st BB, 1st FX
1974 World Championships: 1st T, 3rd FX (tie)
1975 Spartakiade: 5th AA, 3rd UB, 3rd BB, 2nd FX
1975 World Cup: 3rd AA, 2nd V, 3rd BB
1976 Olympics: 1st T, 7th AA

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

 

Courtesy of M. Green

A native of Uzbekistan, Saadi played a vital role in the Soviet Union's 1972 and 1976 Olympic team victories. Saadi became interested in gymnastics at age 12, when her mother enrolled her in one of Tashkent's junior gymnastic schools. She worked hard, and within five years earned a spot on the Soviet National team. 

Following the 1976 Olympics, Saadi accepted a coaching position at the prestigious Moscow Dynamo club. Intially she helped her former coach, Vladimir Aksyonov, coach a group of younger girls, one of whom was the future great Olga Mostepanova.

In the next several years, Saadi and her husband (whom she married in between her two Olympic appearances) welcomed two daughters into the world: Liana (born in 1979) and Diana (born in 1980).

According to the first volume (1966-1974) of Women's Gymnastics: A History by Minot Simons II, Saadi's first major success as a coach came at the 1981 Youth National Championships. Here, Saadi's 12-year-old pupil, Natasha Timakova, tied for first place in compulsories. Greater success came in the late 1980's, when her young protegee, Tatiana Groshkova, was accepted on the Soviet national team.

Saadi trained Groshkova alongside three other girls, although from what I can gather, it seems pretty clear that Groshkova was the one pegged for success. Indeed, it was Groshkova who accompanied Saadi to the USA in 1987 when she give clinics.

Groshkova's training partners were Natasha Novozhilova, Tatiana Chernova and Marina Goryunova. While Novozhilova retired early from gymnastics, Chernova represented the Soviet Union at the prestigious 1987 International Japan Junior Invitational (but sadly was never seen again to my knowledge) and Goryunova represented Russia at the 1993 World University Games. A fabulous documentary featuring Saadi and the training of these four is the 1987 Soviet film Are you Going to the Ball?

As predicted, it was Groshkova who enjoyed the most success out of these four. A competitor in the prestigious Chunichi Cup (1989) and European Championships (1990), Groshkova's level of difficulty and originality was far beyond her years. Sadly though, she lacked the consistency necessary to secure a spot on a World or Olympic team. Following Groshkova's last unsuccessful attempt to make a World or Olympic team, Elvira Saadi accepted a new job in Canada. It was a bitter end to a 10-year partnership she had shared with Groshkova.

Elvire Saadi poses at the 99 Canada vs USA match. Photo Jennifer Isbister

In 1994, Saadi accepted the position as Head Coach for the Cambridge Kips Gymnastics Club. Saadi successfully coached Canada's Yvonne Tousek to the 1996 Olympics (Yvonne was Canada's top entry no less!). In 1996, the Canadian Gymnastics Federation recognized Saadi as the Coach of the Year. The following year, Saadi was recognized by the Ontario Government for her contribution to sport, when she was awarded the Female Coach of the Year. Saadi's accomplishments have certainly not gone unnoticed abroad: In England, a gymnastics club adopted the name Saadi for their gym.

Saadi also currently coaches Crystal Gilmore and Chantelle Tousek (Yvonne's younger sister). Crystal was a member of Canada's bronze medal 1998 Commonwealth Games and was the alternate for the 99 Pan Am Games. Chantelle Tousek competed at the 99 Canada Winter Games.

Saadi was born on January 2nd, 1952.

. This page was created on May 15, 1999 and last updated on September 16, 2000.

 

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