Four gymnastics legends will be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame on Saturday. The 16th annual induction dinner will be held at the exclusive Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City, and the 2012 class features Zoltan Magyar (Hungary), Natalia Shaposhnikova (Russia) and Kim Zmeskal (USA). Vera Caslavska (Czech Republic), who was officially inducted in 1998 but could not make the trip, is scheduled to attend this year to accept her honor.
Receiving the Frank Bare Award will be Doug Wilson, who produced and directed numerous World and Olympic gymnastics broadcasts for ABC Sports. Wilson won 17 Emmys during his 45 years with ABC.
Caslavska is by far the most decorated of the foursome. The Prague native is the only gymnast ever to win an Olympic title in the all-around and on every apparatus. In a career that lasted from 1958-68, Caslavska won 11 Olympic medals (seven gold) and 10 world championship medals (five gold). At Mexico 1968, her third consecutive Olympics, Caslavska won four golds (all-around, vault, uneven bars, floor exercise) and two silvers (team, balance beam).
Unlike Caslavska, Magyar created his legacy by mastering a single apparatus. From 1973-1980, he won two Olympic, three world, two World Cup and three European titles, all on pommel horse. Magyar was the first to travel the horse lengthwise, and he also introduced the Magyar Spindle. His innovative influence on the event has been profound not only in Hungary — Budapest native Krisztian Berki is the current world champion — but throughout the world.
Shaposhnikova's career coincided with some of the sport's greatest stars in history — Nadia Comaneci, Nellie Kim — yet she was able to make a name for herself nonetheless. Trained by Vladislav Rastorotsky, coach of Lyudmila Turischeva and later Natalia Yurchenko, Shaposhnikova put her name in the Code of Points for her free-hip-hecht from low bar to high on the uneven bars, and her one-arm handstand-reverse planche was one of her trademark skills on balance beam. Today Shaposhikova and husband Pavel Sut have their own gym, Gymnastika, in Patterson, N.J.
Zmeskal was the spark plug that ignited a sputtering U.S. women's program, which had peaked at the 1984 Olympics (all-around gold, team silver). In Indianapolis in 1991, Zmeskal became the first American to win a world all-around title. The following year, at the inaugural Individual Apparatus World Championships in Paris, Zmeskal added golds on balance beam and floor exercise. Now she and husband Chris Burdette run a successful elite program in Coppell, Texas, called Texas Dreams.
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