By Anna Rose Johnson

We’re reminiscing on past World Championships and reflecting on how the sport has evolved over the last 44 years. Join us for a quick look at some magnificent Worlds through the years!

Feature Photo by Ricardo Bufolin

1974 World Championships: Varna, Bulgaria

1972 Olympic All-Around Champion Ludmilla Tourischeva dominated Worlds in 1974, helping the Soviet Union to a victory in the team final and capturing gold medals in the all-around, balance beam and floor finals. The flow and fluidity of her bars routine in Varna is simply stunning!

1978 World Championships: Strasbourg, France

The one-and-only Nadia Comăneci won the balance beam title in Strasbourg, in addition to a silver medal with the Romanian team. Check out her impeccable performance on beam here—such control, precision and elegance!

1983 World Championships: Budapest, Hungary

In one of two World appearances, Natalia Yurchenko (USSR) won gold medals in both the team and all-around competitions. The originator of the Yurchenko vault family, Natalia’s eponymous vault in Budapest was nothing short of extraordinary.

1987 World Championships: Rotterdam, Netherlands

One of the greatest World Championships of all time, 1987 Worlds is often remembered for the brilliant artistry that the athletes showcased in Rotterdam. The incomparable duo of Yelena Shushunova (USSR) and Daniela Silivaș (ROU) were in fine form in Rotterdam, winning ten medals between the both of them! Here is Silivas’ “Dark Eyes” floor routine:

1991 World Championships: Indianapolis, Indiana

The epic showdown between Kim Zmeskal and Svetlana Boginskaya overshadowed just about everything else at 1991 Worlds! Zmeskal placed first in the all-around, while Boginskaya won the silver and Cristina Bontaș (ROU) placed third. Zmeskal’s three whip-backs on floor will live on forever in the gymnastics world.

1994 World Championships: Brisbane, Australia

Two different Worlds were held in 1994: an individual meet in Brisbane and a team competition in Dortmund. In the individual competition, Shannon Miller won her second consecutive all-around title, just two years before she would make history in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympics!

1999 World Championships: Tianjin, China

Known for her immense power, Russia’s Elena Zamolodchikova impressed in Tianjin with a gorgeous double-twisting Yurchenko.

2003 World Championships: Anaheim, California

The last time Worlds were held in the United States was in 2003, when Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina won her third World all-around title and USA’s Carly Patterson—who would eventually win the Olympic all-around gold in 2004—placed second. Check out Khorkina’s unique bars!

2007 World Championships: Stuttgart, Germany

Just 15 years old at the time, Shawn Johnson stole the show in Stuttgart with her clean execution, limitless power and peppy floor routine, winning gold medals in the team, all-around and floor finals. (P.S. Worlds is heading back to Stuttgart in 2019!)

2011 World Championships: Tokyo, Japan

While USA’s 16-year-old McKayla Maroney won the vault gold in spectacular fashion (that amazing Amanar!), the silver-medal story was equally compelling. Oksana Chusovitina finished second on vault in 2011—after winning vault silver at the 1991 and 2001 World Championships as well!

2015 World Championships: Glasgow, Scotland

This was a historic World Championships for USA’s Simone Biles, who became the first woman in gymnastics history to win three consecutive all-around gold medals! Take a look at Biles’ beautiful beam from Glasgow:

It’s fascinating to see how gymnastics has progressed over the past half-century! We can’t wait for more in Doha!



Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: