Yelena Produnova

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Yelena Produnova
— Gymnast —
Full name Yelena Sergeyevna Produnova
Alternative name(s) Elena
Country represented  Russia 1995-2000
Born (1980-02-15) February 15, 1980 (age 34)
Residence Rostov-on-Don, Russia
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior International Elite
Eponymous skills Produnova (balance beam), Produnova (uneven bars) and Produnova (vault)
Retired 2000

Yelena Sergeyevna Produnova, also known as Elena, (Russian: Елена Серге́евна Продунова; born February 15, 1980) is a female Russian gymnast, living in Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia. Her senior international career lasted from 1995 to 2000, and earned her multiple world and Olympic medals, though gold always eluded her. She is known for her innovative and powerful skills on the vault and floor exercise.

Gymnastics career[edit]

1995-96[edit]

Produnova's first major senior competition was the 1995 world championships in Sabae, Fukui, Japan where the Russians finished fourth. Inexperienced, Produnova made little impact on the international scene. A heel injury hampered her chances of being chosen for the 1996 Summer Olympics, and she stayed at home.

1997[edit]

By 1997, these problems had been overcome. She wowed the crowd with her power at the 1997 world championships in Lausanne—the tumbles in her floor routine drew gasps of admiration. However, perhas the first inkling of her inconsistency came when she was unable to control her incredible power (Produnova kept taking large steps back to control her last tumbling pass). Still, Russia took team silver behind Romania, and Produnova claimed a pair of bronzes in the all-around and floor exercise.

1998[edit]

In 1998, Produnova overcame an ankle injury. That year she also qualified 1st at the 1998 Russian Nationals and finished 5th in the All-Around and 3rd on the vault. During the 1998 Cottbus, Produnova finished 2nd on the vault, 1st on the balance beam, and 2nd on the floor. However, she was unable to compete at the European Championships because of her injury. Had she been there, she had a legitimate chance of taking several medals.

1999[edit]

At the 1999 University Games, Produnova won vault and beam titles, and also finished 2nd in the AA and first in the team competition. It was here that she debuted her famous handspring double front vault. As of July, 2013, only other two female gymnasts successfully performed this vault in competition, Dominican Yamilet Peña and Egyptian Fadwa Mahmoud.

The 1999 World Championships in Tianjin, China saw strong performances from Produnova, where she was unlucky not to take any more individual medals. She finished fourth in the vault, bars, floor and all-around finals. The overall champion was Maria Olaru. Russia once again finished second to Romania.

2000[edit]

The 2000 European Championships saw Russia, with the help of Produnova, beat Romania for gold for the first time ever. Produnova also took a bronze on beam, behind teammate Svetlana Khorkina, and a silver on floor behind Ludivine Furnon of France. These results and her victory in the Russian national championships gained Produnova a place on the team for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

In the preliminary round at the Olympics, the Russians were dominant. The quartet of Produnova, Khorkina, Yekaterina Lobaznyuk and world vault champion Elena Zamolodchikova would probably have been capable of gold even without the two other team members, and they all qualified for multiple finals. Though Romania were world champions, the Russians had beaten them earlier in the year and seemed likely to take the Olympic title.

However, it was not to be. Four of the six gymnasts fell in the team final, and ironically only the two unknown athletes on the team competed without major error. Russia's superstars had succumbed to inconsistency and thrown away their chance at the Olympic title. As it happened, Produnova's mistake was not totally disastrous, since she sat down only one of two vaults and her score was dropped (at this time, teams could drop the lowest score on each apparatus therefore one fall was not too drastic). After her one error, she recorded the team's highest scores on beam and bars. The same principle applied to Khorkina's fall from bars since the score did not have to count towards the team title, the mistake did not have to cost them the gold. Not for the first time, it was the beam that claimed Russia. Both Zamolodchikova and Lobaznyuk fell, and it was not until Produnova's solid performance that the Russians showed a clean routine. After that, their chances of gold had gone. The Russians were the top scoring team on floor, but it was not enough. Romania were victorious by a margin of only two tenths. Disgusted, Produnova and Khorkina both removed their silver medals as they walked off the podium.

Produnova had qualified for the all-around finals, where she was a legitimate medal threat. However, she had broken her foot during the Olympics and, bitterly disappointed, had to withdraw. Teammate Elena Zamolodchikova took her place. Produnova's sadness was compounded when two of the three Russians fell, and none managed to make the podium.

Produnova competed in both of the finals to which she had qualified, bars and beam. A mistake kept her out of the medals on bars. She hit her beam routine solidly and stuck her difficult double front dismount, winning a bronze medal, behind Liu Xuan of China and teammate Yekaterina Lobaznyuk.

2004[edit]

Sydney was Produnova's last major competition, and she retired at the age of 24.

Skills named after her[edit]

Produnova is one of the few gymnasts to have skills on all four events named after her:

  • On the vault, a handspring double front salto (with A-score 7.1, the highest in 2009 Code of Points)

Personal[edit]

Trivia[edit]

Produnova's floor exercise music in 2000 Olympics is "The Ride" from James Horner's The Mask of Zorro Soundtrack. "The Ride" is the third track of the soundtrack CD, before and after of two songs with "Elena" in their names.

Competitive history[edit]

Year Event Team AA VT UB BB FX
1995 World Championships 4th
1997 World Championships 2nd 3rd 8th 3rd
1998 World Cup Final 6th 6th 6th
1999 World Championships 2nd 4th 4th 4th 4th
2000 European Championships 1st 4th 3rd 2nd
Olympic Games 2nd WD 7th 3rd
Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2000 Olympic Games Sydney Team 2 154.403 1 154.874
All-Around WD 5 38.529
Vault 25 9.368
Uneven Bars 7 9.650 5 9.762
Balance Beam 3 9.775 5 9.762
Floor Exercise 9 9.637
European Championships Paris Team 1 115.760
All-Around 5 38.318
Vault 4 9.543 4 9.531
Uneven Bars 3 9.775 3 9.762
Balance Beam 18 9.200
Floor Exercise 2 9.812 1 9.825
1999 World Championships Tianjin Team 2 153.209 2 153.576
All-Around 4 38.673 6 38.429
Vault 4 9.587 6 9.593
Uneven Bars 4 9.750 2 9.787
Balance Beam 30 9.412
Floor Exercise 4 9.737 13 9.637
1998 World Cup Final Sabae Vault 6 9.281
Uneven Bars 6 9.375
Floor Exercise 6 8.737
1997 World Championships Lausanne Team 2 153.197 1 153.401
All-Around 3 38.549 2 38.329
Vault 11 9.543
Uneven Bars 12 9.437
Balance Beam 8 9.412 4 9.687
Floor Exercise 3 9.775 7 9.662
1995 World Championships Sabae Team 4 384.689
Balance Beam 44 18.437
Floor Exercise 20 19.362

External links[edit]