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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Retired Star BoginskayaIs Reborn

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Five years ago Bela Karoly, the most famous coach in gymnastics, declared: "The era of Svetlana Boginskaya is over."


This weekend Boginskaya proved him wrong, coming out of retirement to win a European silver medal at the age of 23. And one of the people she has to thank for her renaissance is, ironically, Karoly himself.


The elegant Belarussian has been training with Karoly, the man behind Nadia Comaneci's success, in a bid to reach her third Olympic Games and prove to the world that there is life after adolescence in gymnastics.


In a sport dominated by tiny teenagers, the 1.63-meter-tall Boginskaya's projected return sparked some derogatory comments from her rivals.


"She cannot win medals any more," declared world silver medalist Alexandra Marinescu, 15, last month.


But Marinescu, confined to the junior event at the European championships because of a glut of senior talent in the Romanian team, was among those watching in awe as Boginskaya did indeed win a medal in Saturday's all-round event.


Boginskaya, who first won Olympic success in 1988 when Marinescu, one of the favorites for Atlanta, was 7 years old, says she has more energy and enthusiasm for gymnastics now, after two-and-a-half years out of the sport.


"You won't believe this but I have started to train more than I ever did," she said. "Even my coach says: 'Come on, Svetlana, you don't need to work so much.'"


Though Boginskaya failed to add any apparatus gold medals Sunday, that was due above all to her routines.


While rivals such as world and new European overall champion Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine perform routines graded 10 for maximum difficulty, Boginskaya has yet to get back to that standard of complexity.


Boginskaya, the second-oldest woman competing in Birmingham, retired after winning team gold with the Commonwealth of Independent States -- the stop-gap team that followed the break-up of the Soviet Union -- at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.


The former world and European champion moved to the United States and took up coaching.


She turned to Karoly, the former Romanian who coached Comaneci when she won three gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and who is now based in the United States himself.


It was Karoly who wrote her off when he was coaching American Kim Zmeskal to success in 1991. "I want to say thank you to Bela Karoly for what he has done," said Boginskaya, who is now going back to Belarus to train with the national squad for the Olympics.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)