Nellie Kim

Nellie Kim

Nellie Kim made history at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal – not only did she win four medals but she also the first woman to score a perfect 10 in the floor exercise and on the vault. For Nellie this was a journey that began while she was still in school, along with her siblings she took gymnastics classes. Nellie had to work harder than everyone else in order to succeed in gymnastics; she was once told by Larissa Latynina that she would have “no future” in the sport. Over the next few years she would prove her doubters wrong.

She achieved success in a number of junior competitions before turning her attention to senior competitions. She achieved great success in a number of national and international competitions prior to the 1976 Olympics but it was here that she made herself known to the wider world. The rivalry between her and Nadia Comaneci resulted in strong performances from the two women; it also saw Nellie perform moves that had never been seen before at the Olympics. Nellie’s hard work was rewarded as she received a perfect 10 in two of her events as well as coming home with three gold medals (floor, vault and team events) and a silver medal in the all-round event.

She followed this up with success in the World Championships two years later. Her last competitive event would be at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, her home country. She won gold in the team event as well as tying with Nadia Comaneci for first place in the floor event. After retiring from competitive gymnastics Nellie continued to be involved in the gymnastics world – she went on to be a coach as well as a judge in competitive competitions. In 1999 she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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