|— Gymnast —|
Nelli Kim performing her routine during the artistic gymnastics competition at the XXII Olympic Games in Moscow 1980
|Country represented||Soviet Union|
July 29, 1957 |
Shurab, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union
|Discipline||Women's artistic gymnastics|
Nellie Vladimirovna Kim (Russian: Нелли Владимировна Ким; born 29 July 1957) is a retired Soviet gymnast who won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, and two gold medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics. She was the first woman in Olympic history to earn a perfect 10 score on the vault and the first to earn it on the floor exercise, rivaling Nadia Comăneci, Ludmilla Tourischeva, and other strong competitors of the 1970s. Nellie Kim worked for a long time as a coach, training several national teams, and judged many major international competitions. As President of the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee, she coordinates the introduction of new rules in women's gymnastics, as provided by the new Code of Points, developed by the FIG in 2004–2005 and in effect since 2006. Her gymnastic appearances are remembered for "her strong feminine, temperamental and charismatic appeal".
Nellie Kim was born in Shurab, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union. the daughter of a Sakhalin Korean father, Vladimir Kim, and a Tatar mother, Alfiya. Later the family moved to Kazakh SSR, where her father worked in the Chimkent slate factory. At age 9, she entered Chimkent City Children and Youth Sports School 3 of the Spartak Sports Society. Two other children in the family, her younger brother Alexander and her sister Irina, also entered a gymnastics school and trained for some time. Alexander was harassed by his classmates in the secondary school for his small stature and retired from gymnastics in favor of boxing. Irina, whom Nellie Kim considered more talented than she herself was, retired because of the demands of the frequent training sessions.
Kim's trainers were Vladimir Baidin and his wife, Galina Barkova. Initially, she did not have sufficient flexibility as compared with many of her fellow gymnasts, but she was soon able to compensate with superior technique and the difficulty of her exercises. So she quickly became the best in Kazakhstan gymnastics.
One of Kim's earliest successes was her victory in the republican Spartak's competition, held in Chimkent in 1969. Nevertheless, a year later she was said to "have no future" by celebrated gymnast Larisa Latynina. After that verdict, Kim was close to leaving gymnastics but persevered with support from Baidin. At the 1971 Junior USSR Championships, her first national competition, she placed fifth in the all-around. The national junior success, as well as senior national and international debuts followed two years later. Kim won the all-around title and two more gold medals at the All-Union Youth Sports Games, placed 8th in the all-around and 1st on the uneven bars at the USSR Cup and won the prestigious Chunichi Cup in Japan. After a second-place finish at the USSR Cup in August 1974, she was added to the team roster for the World Championships, held in October, where Kim earned the gold medal in the team competition. Afterwards, and until 1980, she successfully competed in many top-level international events.
Olympics and World Championships
Nellie Kim became one of the main medal prospects for the upcoming Olympics and actual leader of the Soviet team after the 1975 Canadian Pre-Olympics Test competition. At the Test she placed second in the all-around to Nadia Comăneci, but won three golds in the event finals (vault, balance beam, floor exercise), while Comaneci won the remaining one on bars. Larisa Latynina, who had already changed her opinion about Kim earlier, described her gymnastics style as sparkling and cheerful. She also cited a comment by Canadian newspapers about Kim's performance: "There are moments, when a natural smile is more worth, than triumph". However, although Nellie Kim also won the 1976 USSR Cup, beating such famous of her compatriots as Olga Korbut and Ludmilla Tourischeva, they were still considered leaders by the media. Even the Coach Council of the Soviet team failed to define her as the leader. That was a mistake recognized by Soviet experts later.
At the 1976 Summer Olympics the rivalry between Nellie Kim and Nadia Comăneci became the focal point of the women's gymnastics competition. Kim's teammates Ludmilla Tourischeva and Olga Korbut, the Olympic champions of Munich, were overcome by the two rising stars in the battle for the gold. Nellie Kim won three gold medals, one in the team competition and two in the event finals: on the vault and floor exercise. Music for her floor routine, choreographed by Valentina Kosolapova, was a fiery Samba, and one of the elements was the double back salto, performed for the first time in Olympic women's events. Kim also won a silver medal in the all-around, receiving the perfect 10 for the Tsukahara vault with the full twist, which was also performed for the first time in Olympic history. She was praised for her feminine beauty and the flamboyant, graceful and intense style. Comaneci won the gold in the all-around, on bars and balance beam. She had a slight lead over Nadia on the other 3 events combined in the all-around but despite being the World bronze medallist on beam Nellie performed very poorly on that apparatus conceding a full 1.0 to Nadia. Boris Bajin, the National Coach of Canada, noted " Nelli Kim performed an outstanding original vault with perfect style and flawless execution. Everyone present, judges, coaches, gymnasts and spectators agreed with the result. She shows far more originality and possibility than is incorporated in the code of points". John Atkinson, the British National Coach agreed adding that of all the perfect scores scored in Montreal he believed Kim's 10 on vault was the most perfect.
After the 1976 Summer Olympics Nellie Kim moved to Byelorussian SSR (joining the Armed Forces sports society in Minsk) and represented her new home on the USSR team. Two years later Kim successfully competed at the World Championships. She won gold medals on the vault, floor exercise and in the team competition, and placed second in the all-around to Elena Mukhina, overcoming Nadia Comăneci, who fell from the uneven bars, among others. The greatest success came at the 1979 World Championships, where Nellie Kim became the all-around champion, beating Maxi Gnauck, Melita Ruhn and her teammate Maria Filatova. Her floor exercise routine, choreographed by Galina Savarina, was accompanied by a new piece of music, House of the Rising Sun by Santa Esmeralda, which would also be used one year later at the Olympics.
In 1980 she won the all-around title at the USSR Championships and successfully competed in the Moscow Olympics, her last competitive performance. She tied for the gold medal on the floor with Nadia Comăneci, after scoring 9.95 in that event finals, and won gold in the team competition.
After Nellie Kim's competitive career was over she worked as a coach and a judge. She coached the South Korean, Italian and Belarus national teams. In 1984 Kim became the International Brevet Judge and judged many international competitions, including European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games. Her judging license was suspended by the FIG for a while only once – after the 1990 World Cup, she was judging again in Barcelona. Since 1993 she has been the President of the Judging Committee in Artistic Gymnastics of the Republic of Belarus.
In the 1990s Kim moved to the U.S. and in 2002 was residing in Minnesota.
In 1996 Kim was elected to the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), and moved to the U.S.A. soon afterwards, where she lives with her daughter Nellie.
At the FIG Congress held on 22 October 2004 in Antalya, Nellie Kim was elected President of the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee. She helped design the 2006 alteration in the Code of Points, which will end the use of the perfect 10 and introduce uncapped scoring for gymnasts. Some of the main causes for the change were judging scandals at the 2004 Summer Olympics, with Alexei Nemov and other gymnasts involved. FIG officials, including Nellie Kim and Bruno Grandi, believed that one of the possible ways to prevent such scandal in the future and make the clean execution and artistry the main priorities, was a radical change of the old Code.
This move has been controversial among fans and athletes alike. Kim and other FIG officials pointed out that this alteration was designed with the help and advice from FIG member federations and many judges, as have all previous codes. They also underlined that this system will be tested on major international events before final adoption.
In her 2005 interview Nellie Kim said that unlike her predecessor in the post of the President of the WAG TC, Jackie K. Fie, she does not receive any salary from the federation of the country, represented by her in the FIG. And therefore she works for the FIG on the basis of pure enthusiasm.
She has also been accused by Russian coaches of being biased towards Russian gymnasts, a view she vehemently reputes and criticizes.
- List of top Olympic gymnastics medalists
- List of top medalists at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
- List of Olympic female gymnasts for the Soviet Union
- "Nellie Kim". International Federation of Gymnastics. Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2006.
- (Russian) Kim, Nellie (1985). Schastlivyy pomost (Lucky Gymnastics Platform). Moscow: Molodaya Gvardiya.
- "КИМ Нелли Владимировна (гимнастика спортивная)". Belarus Olympic Committee (in Russian). Retrieved March 21, 2008.
- "Whatever Happened to Nelli Kim?". GymnasticGreats.com. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- "1975 Pre-Olympic Test Event". Gymn-Forum. Retrieved July 20, 2006.[dead link]
- Hulbert, Dan (1979-12-09). "Miss Kim Captures Laurels". New York Times. p. S4.
- "Deprived of the all-around title". Boston Globe. 1980-07-26. p. 1.
- "Grandi, Stoica Re-Elected". International Gymnast Online. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2006-03-26.
- (Russian) "I will command the parade!". Sovetskaya Belorussiya. 2005-09-03. Retrieved 2006-03-26.[dead link]
- "NELLI KIM". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
- Official website (archived 2011)
- Nellie Kim at Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique
- A signed photo and list of competitive results
- (Russian) A short biography at Gymnast.ru
- A description of the film about Nellie Kim - at the National Film Board of Canada
- Nelli Kim at the Internet Movie Database