Courtesy of M. Green
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.
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.
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
Saadi was born on January 2nd,
. This page was created on May 15, 1999 and last updated on September 16, 2000.