"If someone offered me to start my life from scratch I would be a gymnast again." -
Shevchenko (International Gymnast, October 2001)
never one of the major stars of the Soviet women's gymnastics team,
Shevchenko's innovative Pink Panther routine won her
many fans. Having never competed in a World Championships,
Shevchenko's spot on the 1988 Soviet Olympic team surprised a few.
Shevchenko made her International debut at the 1985 Druzhba meet, placing third overall. The next year, Shevchenko
began competing the senior International circuit with incredible results. She contributed to her team's 1986 Goodwill Games win, and amongst a tougher field won the 1986 USSR Spartakiade
and medalled on three events (gold on floor and silver on bars and beam) at that year's USSR Cup.
Shevchenko's 1986 results boded well for a spot on the 1987 World Championships team. Indeed, reknown Soviet
gymnast Larissa Petrik predicted great things for Shevchenko in Rotterdam, "Elena's feel for rhythm, which very rarely lets her down, helps her achieve tremendous emotional
expressiveness. And this, combined with her high level of technique is quite sufficient, I believe, for her to win the sympathy of the spectators and the judges at the forthcoming
world championships in Holland," she told the Russian press. Sadly, injury preventing Shevchenko from competing to potential in 1987 and
she was not named to the World team.
Mostepanova and Shevchenko at he 2001 Russian National
Championships in April.
1988 was a comeback year for Shevchenko, highlighted by her win at the European Cup and subsequent placement on the Olympic
team. She reflected on these meets, telling IG that these meets were "good and interesting, and I enjoyed them. I just had a great
desire for success, and did not want all of my hard work to be wasted. I am very thankful to fate." She performed well in
Seoul, contributing to her team's gold medal. She pressed on after the Olympics, but not for too long. She competed at the 1989 Australian
Grand Prix, retiring soon thereafter. She currently lives in Moscow, and has spent time coaching
at the CSKA gymnastics club. Her gymnasts, among them Svetlana Feofanova, showed good results.
Shevchenko also enjoyed judging, and has worked her way to the top of Russian judging. For example, she judged at
the 1998 Junior Europeans and more recently at the 2001 World Championships.
Shevchenko and her husband, former world-class speed skater Vladislav Olenin, welcomed their first child, a son
Kristian, during a stay in England in the summer of 1999. "He took to gymnastics right away," Shevchenko told IG.
. This page was created on February 13, 1999 and last updated January 12, 2001.