Olga Korbut: Belarusian gymnast with deadly element

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Probably many track and field fans have heard of Olga Korbut’s loop. This element is prohibited in gymnastics. But why is it forbidden and who is she – the legend of world Gymnastics?

The first steps of the future star in gymnastics

Olga Korbut, an outstanding Soviet athlete from Belarus, was born on May 16, 1955 in Grodno. She took the decision to go in for gymnastics independently. Since 1963, Olga began to attend the section of Yaroslav Korol. However, her first mentors considered her to be excessively well-fed for such a sport and were reluctant to take it. Two years later, Olga was in the group of legendary coach Renald Knish, who could see her talent. The young student was very hardworking and thought only about doing gymnastics. Returning home in the evening after training, she imagined in her head how she would go to the gym again in the morning.

The first tangible achievement for Olga Korbut came in 1970 after winning the USSR championship in the vault. The noticeable progress of the athlete did not go unnoticed by the coaches, who recorded it in the national team.

Korbut`s loop

The world-famous element, which was named in honor of the gymnast who first performed it, appeared during Olga Korbut’s training sessions. She had fun on the uneven bars in between classes and randomly performed a unique trick. Renal Knysh paid attention to it and together with Olga he gained a noose. So this element was called the Korbut loop.

The execution of a unique element originates from the upper crossbar of unevenly high uneven bars. Standing on her legs, the athlete flew into the air, performed a back flip and returned to the top pole again, clinging to her with her hands. She performed such a unique trick so completely that it seemed as if the law of gravity did not work. It took about five years of preparation for a thorough execution of a dangerous and incredibly complex element. The first performance of the Korbut loop was held at the country’s championship in 1970. The fourteen-year-old athlete, who has not yet gained popularity, made a splash at the audience.

Olympics 1972 in Munich

Olga Korbut won worldwide fame at the Olympic Games in Munich, which were held in 1972. Everyone was wild with delight after a young Soviet athlete with pigtails performed a unique element in gymnastics. International media exploded with headlines about the legendary element of the young Belarusian gymnast Korbut, thanks to whom she became an Olympic champion. She was so fond of everything that next year she was awarded the title of the best sportswoman of the world.

The prohibition of performing Korbut’s element

Watching the performance of the unique Korbut loop, the public received unforgettable impressions. However, performing dangerous stunts significantly increased the likelihood of serious injury. According to Olga Korbut, when performing a dangerous element, named in her honor, she was very afraid. Her heart literally fell into the abyss of fear.

The removal of this element from gymnastics exercises was a matter of time until some of its performers received a serious injury. Another Soviet athlete Elena Mukhina perfected a dangerous element by adding a screw to it.


Why is the beautiful loop of Korbut forbidden? The reason is very serious … In July 1980, Elena Mukhina was preparing for the 1980 Olympics, which were to be held in the USSR, and landed badly in training, hitting her head on the floor surface. As a result of a difficult exercise, a broken spine. For 26 years, Elena Mukhina was forced to lie in bed, very limited in movement.

In an attempt to get more points, athletes come up with difficult elements to perform, increasing the risk of injury in dangerous gymnastics. In order to avoid further severe injuries in sports gymnasts, the unique element of the Korbut loop was prohibited by the rules, as a result of which it can no longer be found in official competitions.

In any case, the author of the element on the verge of high risk fulfilled it phenomenally, capturing her name in the history of sports.

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