Khorkina has managed to weave her way around the Code of Points. Together with coach Boris Pilkin, she has devised innovative routines that exploit her height and at the same time give her reasonably high start values. Nowhere is this more evident than her uneven bars routine. Her seemingly effortless and endless pirouettes in handstand, that rare Markelov release and her variation of the Shaposhnikova testifies to her reputation as one of the most creative gymnasts of the 90’s.
Her poise and elegance
Perhaps her height is somewhat responsible for her limited repertoire on the floor, but her eloquent presentation more than makes up for it. We saw her drama when she danced the flamenco to Bizet’s “Carmen”. We were all captivated by the way she drifted through her new floor routine set to Fibich’s “Poem”. Only she would have been able to present an exercise with such grace and dignity. Not to mention her beautiful split leaps and handsprings on the beam. Even her elegance shines through when she is on the uneven bars - no one has better timing and pace on the uneven bars than her.
Her strength of character
Despite being advised to take up rhythmic gymnastics instead, Khorkina insisted on pursuing the sport she loved most and we are all glad she did. She knew that she would have to work a lot harder than most because of her height, and she did for the pure love of artistic gymnastics. Had she continued to pursue rhythmic gymnastics, she might not have done very well simply because her heart would be somewhere else. Not with the ribbons and clubs, but with the chalk and uneven bars.
Svetlana Khorkina will not be known as just another long-legged rhythmic gymnast, but one of the few long-legged artistic gymnasts to have conquered the limitations of being tall and achieve outstanding results in women’s artistic gymnastics.