Nellie Kim

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Nellie Kim
Nellie Kim 1980.jpg
Personal information
Full nameNellie Vladimirovna Kim
Country represented Soviet Union
Born (1957-07-29) 29 July 1957 (age 62)
Shurab, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union
Height152 cm (5 ft 0 in)
Weight47 kg (104 lb)
DisciplineWomen's artistic gymnastics
ClubSpartak Shymkent (Kazakhstan)
Soviet Armed Forces sports society Minsk (Belarus)

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 second woman in Olympic history to earn a perfect 10 score and the first woman to score it on the vault and 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".[1]

Early life[edit]

Nellie Kim was born in Shurab, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union. She is the daughter of a Sakhalin Korean father, Vladimir Kim, and a Tatar mother, Alfiya Safina.[2] 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[3][4] 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.[3]

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. Kim excelled and quickly became one of the best in Soviet 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.[5] 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.

Nellie Kim's nickname among USSR teammates and team coaches was "Kimanellie," which she earned, when a trainer Vladislav Rastorotsky called her very quickly: "Kim, Nellie, to the phone!"[3]

Olympics and World Championships[edit]

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.[6] 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.[3]

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.[5] 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.

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.[7] 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.[3]

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.[8] After the Moscow Olympics, Nellie Kim appeared with a roster of other top-class gymnasts at Wembley Arena in January 1981 for a popular exhibition of gymnastic performances on floor and apparatus.

Later life[edit]

After her competitive career was over, Nellie Kim 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 due to allegations of cheating and fixing scores. Despite her suspension, 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.

Nellie's first marriage was to the fellow gymnast Vladimir Achasov,[2] but this marriage did not last. She met her second husband at the 1980 Olympics, and they had a daughter (also named Nellie) who was born in the mid-1980s.[9] Her second husband was a Soviet cyclist Valery Movchan, 1980 Olympics gold medalist.[10]

In the 1990s, Kim moved to the U.S. and in 2002 was residing in Minnesota.[9]

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.[citation needed]

In 1999, she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.[11]

At the FIG Congress held on 22 October 2004 in Antalya, Nellie Kim was elected President of the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee.[12] She helped design the 2006 alteration in the Code of Points, which ended the use of the perfect 10 and introduced 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 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.[13]

In 2013, she was accused by Russian coaches of favoring American gymnasts,[14] a view she vehemently refutes and criticizes.[15]

She was the subject of a half-hour National Film Board of Canada documentary Nelli Kim, co-directed by Georges Dufaux and Pierre Bernier, which was filmed at the 1976 Summer Games and released in 1978.[16]

Eponymous skills[edit]

Apparatus Name Description Difficulty Added to the Code of Points
Vault Kim Front handspring – 1 1/2 twist without salto 3.6 1974 Varna World Championships
Vault Kim Tsukahara tucked with a full turn 4.6 1976 Montreal Olympic Games
Vault Kim Tsukahara stretched with a full turn 5.2 1978 Strasbourg World Championships
Balance Beam Kim Gainer salto tucked with a full twist (dismount) C 1976 Montreal Olympic Games
Balance Beam Kim Aerial cartwheel into salto backward tucked E 1980 Moscow Olympic Games
Floor Exercise Kim Double salto backward tucked D 1976 Montreal Olympic Games
Floor Exercise Kim Double salto backward piked D 1978 Strasbourg World Championships

Achievements (non-Olympic)[edit]

Year Event AA Team VT UB BB FX
1973 USSR Championships 1st
1974 World Championships 1st 3rd
USSR Cup 2nd
USSR Championships 3rd 2nd 2nd
1975 European Championships 2nd 3rd 3rd 2nd 1st
USSR Cup 2nd
USSR Championships 1st 2nd 1st 1st 1st
1976 USSR Cup 1st
USSR Championships 1st 2nd 1st
1977 European Championships 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
1978 World Championships 2nd 1st 1st 1st
USSR Championships 2nd
1979 World Championships 1st 2nd 3rd 2nd 2nd
World Cup 2nd 3rd 3rd
USSR Championships 2nd 2nd 1st
1980 USSR Championships 1st

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nellie Kim". International Federation of Gymnastics. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2006.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Nellie Kim". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kim, Nellie (1985). Schastlivyy pomost (Lucky Gymnastics Platform) (in Russian). Moscow: Molodaya Gvardiya.
  4. ^ КИМ Нелли Владимировна (гимнастика спортивная). Belarus Olympic Committee (in Russian). Archived from the original on 22 March 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Whatever Happened to Nelli Kim?". Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2006.
  6. ^ "1975 Pre-Olympic Test Event". Retrieved 20 July 2006.[dead link]
  7. ^ Hulbert, Dan (9 December 1979). "Miss Kim Captures Laurels". New York Times. p. S4.
  8. ^ "Deprived of the all-around title". Boston Globe. 26 July 1980. p. 1.
  9. ^ a b Fisher, Barbara; Isbister, Jennifer (24 October 2002). "Nellie Kim". Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Lupita translates : Nelli Kim interview (November 2012) ("Nelli Kim: triple back on floor")". 3 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2015. Translated from: Дубицкий, Михаил (15 November 2012). "Нелли Ким: тройное сальто на вольных". Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  11. ^ "NELLI KIM". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  12. ^ "Grandi, Stoica Re-Elected". International Gymnast Online. 22 October 2004. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
  13. ^ "I will command the parade!" (in Russian). Sovetskaya Belorussiya. 3 September 2005. Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
  14. ^ Meyers, Dvora. "The other Perfect 10: The half-Korean Soviet gymnast you've never heard of". Fusion.
  15. ^ "Rewriting Russian Gymnastics: Nelli Kim – 'Russian gymnastics has closed in on itself' – Lupita translates". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Nelli Kim". Collection. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 18 June 2016.

External links[edit]