The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame will celebrate the careers of four gymnastics legends this May in Oklahoma City: Vera Caslavska (Czech Republic), Zoltan Magyar (Hungary), Natalia Shaposhnikova (Russia) and Kim Zmeskal (USA).
Czech legend Vera Caslavska
The class of 2012 — having won a combined 19 Olympic and 21 world championships medals — will be feted May 19 at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City.
"We are thrilled with the selection of the Class of 2012, and we are especially excited to finally celebrate the induction of Vera Caslavska, who was not able to be with us when she was originally inducted in 1998," said world and Olympic champion Bart Conner, president of the IGHOF Board.
Representing Czechoslovakia, the legendary Caslavska won 11 Olympic medals, including seven gold, at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. She won 10 world championship medals, including the all-around gold at the 1966 Worlds in Dortmund, where she led her team to victory over the dominant Soviet squad. She was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in major international competition, earning the ultimate mark at the 1967 European Championships on balance beam and floor exercise. Caslavska's protest against Soviet rule in her homeland, however, led to forced retirement after the 1968 Olympics, and she was declared persona non grata. Her reputation was restored after the fall of communism, and she has since served as president of the Czech Olympic Committee.
Magyar was a master of the pommel horse, winning back-to-back titles at the 1976 and 1980 Olympics. He also won three titles each at the world championships (1974, 1978, 1979) and European championships (1973, 1975, 1977). He has two eponymous moves: the Magyar spindle and the Magyar travel. Magyar is now a veterinarian in his native Budapest.
Representing the Soviet Union, Shaposhnikova won four medals at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow — golds with the team and on vault and bronzes on balance beam and floor exercise. She won three world medals, including a gold with her team at the 1978 Worlds in Strasbourg. Her artistry and originality were notable even in that unique era, and the difficult uneven bars transition she invented remains one of the popular moves among today's gymnasts. She married fellow Soviet team member Pavel Sut — a gold medalist at the 1981 Worlds — and together they own their own club, Gymnastika, in New Jersey.
Zmeskal is the first American gymnast to win a world all-around title, a feat she accomplished at the 1991 Worlds in Indianapolis. She continued her golden streak the following year with gold medals on balance beam and floor exercise at the world championships in Paris. At the 1992 Olympics she helped the U.S. win a team bronze, its first Olympic team medal in eight years. Today Zmeskal is an international judge and one of the top coaches in the U.S., guiding gymnasts at her Texas Dreams club alongside her husband, Chris Burdette.
In addition to the athletes being honored, Doug Wilson will be awarded the first Frank Bare Award for his significant contributions to popularizing gymnastics as an Emmy award-winning TV producer for ABC's Wide World of Sports.
Over the past fifteen years, 76 of gymnastics greatest stars and contributors, representing 20 countries, have been formally inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame seeks to preserve, promote and share the achievements of the sport's greatest legends, with the IGHOF exhibit at the Science Museum Oklahoma in the Adventure District in Oklahoma City. Visitors can view the Wall of Fame - portraits of all inductees, and other sculptures, pictures, paintings and videos. Children can also try out some gymnastics training equipment at the exhibit.
For more information about the IGHOF and how you can be a member or donor, visit www.ighof.com.
For tickets to the IGHOF ceremony, contact Lynn Landis at Paul Ziert and Associates at 405-364-5344.