Saturday, April 28, 2018

#45 ~1984 Olympic Games

Everyone who is ever involved in any sport, dreams of taking part in the Olympic Games. This is every athlete's ultimate goal. Since all my life I was involved in the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics, and this sport was not part of the Olympic Games program, I can't tell you how excited we all were when the decision was made that Rhythmic Gymnastics FINALLY will be part of the Olympics as of 1984.
Here is a little history:
Competitive rhythmic gymnastics began in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. The FIG ( Federation of International Gymnastics) formally recognized this discipline in 1961, first as modern gymnastics, then as rhythmic sportive gymnastics, and finally as rhythmic gymnastics. The first World Championships for individual rhythmic gymnasts was held in 1963 in Budapest. Groups were introduced at the same level in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rhythmic gymnastics was added to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, with an Individual All-Around competition. However, many federations from the Eastern European countries were forced to boycott by the Soviet Union. Canadian Lori Fung was the first rhythmic gymnast to earn an Olympic gold medal.
In 1984 we just moved from a small 3,000 square foot facility in the Industrial Court in Orange Park, Florida to a large  (our own!!!) 10,000 sq. ft facility. We had 2 gymnastics floors and one of the gymnastics floors was dedicated to Rhythmic Gymnastics. I already had a very strong team: Kerrie Jackson, 13 year old  was a member of the Junior National Team.
Around May of 1984 I received a phone call from Michelle Berube, actually her Mother Kathy. Michelle was one of my students that I coached while we lived and worked in Detroit. She was one of my most talented girls: strong, flexible, expressive, aggressive, determined and very beautiful.
During the 1984 National Championships Michelle was one of the two girls who qualified for 1984 Olympic Games. She asked if she could come to Jacksonville and train with me in order to prepare for the competition. It was a very important decision. By agreeing, I assumed a role of an Olympic Coach. It's a lot of responsibilities. My baby Joanna was only 8 months old, our business was fast growing and my presence was necessary. But who can say "No" to the Olympic Games???  Not me!
So Michelle moved to Jacksonville. She lived with us and we trained every day 4-5 hours a day. Everything was going very well. Routines were challenging, difficult and original. Michelle was getting strong, consistent and confident! We were planning to travel to Los Angeles together.
But right before we were ready to leave, I received a phone call from the US Gymnastics Federation informing me that there is going to be only one coach representing the US on the Olympic Games and it's going to be Alla Svirsky, coach from Los Angeles.
So, I could not go...I was heartbroken, Michelle was very upset, but I told her that Alla is a very good and experienced coach and she will be in good hands. And all Michelle needs is confidence and positive attitude! I did my job. Michelle was ready!
So in July 1984, Michelle left for Los Angeles. My heart, my thoughts and my spirit was with her. I was so proud of her!!!

One of many newspaper articles: "The Florida Times-Union/Jacksonville Journal" July 7, 1984
Michelle Berube ~ 1984 Olympic Games ~ 14th AA


  1. Ahhh...she was like a panther...Marina, you a splendid coach then and always.....

  2. You are the one to be admired. With such a disappointing development (not being able to accompany your gymnast to the Olympics), you handled it in the classy manor that I found to be typical of your behavior at all meets where I judged. Your gymnasts were outstanding, a credit to the sport.

  3. Marina, I'm so glad to have found your blog and remember that time so well. Such endless hours spent with your family in and out of the gym are still cherished memories. Looking forward to reading more and learning about more of your history.

    Anita (Davis) Sullivan

  4. Marina, I can't really say how or why I found your blog (although Google/GOD helped), but I want you to know that you are never far from my thoughts. You were my coach in Orange Park, FL for several years and although several decades have passed, I still remember your face and your encouragement and I have not forgotten your gentle nature. I remember so many days in the Gym with you when I wasn't sure of anything in life, but yet you found a way to make me feel special. Some of the fondest memories I have of that time are with you, Sarah, Suzanne, Mia and others that my ever-aging mind can't remember. You gave me a glimpse of life's potential and I will always thank you for that. I really enjoyed reading about your past and your move to the United States. I for one am really glad that you came and I wish only the best for you in the future. Don't EVER let your light go dim. YOU are LOVED!

    Sheila Beasley (Hoffman), now Lee