As gymnastics evolves through the years via changes in rules, equipment and technique, so, too, do those individuals who excel in the sport. To the benefit of her native Russia, Elena Zamolodchikova came along at the right time.
Born September 19, 1982 in Moscow, Zamolodchikova began the sport at the age of six and enjoyed a long and successful career lasting over 20 years. With amazing acrobatics, including her trademark double-twisting double-back somersault on floor exercise, “ Zamo" always provided a welcome burst of energy to her team.
As a 17-year-old girl, she made her World Championships debut in 1999 in Tianjin, China, and won a gold medal in the vault, a silver with her team, and the all-around bronze. She did even better at the Sydney Olympics the following year, winning gold medals on vault and floor exercise, and the team silver.
After a foot injury hampered her at the 2001 World Championships in Belgium, Zamolodchikova recovered in time to win her second world title at the age of 20 on vault in 2002 in Debrecen, Hungary. Zamolodchikova continued to contribute to the Russian team, winning the vault at the 2003 Anaheim World Championships, and the team bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics, this time competing on a vaulting table. Her final World Championships medal came in 2006 in Aarhus, Denmark, where the new open-ended Code of Points was introduced. She helped her team there win a bronze.
She was 26 years old in her final competition in 2009, at the University Games in Belgrade, where Russia placed 2nd as a team. Even after she retired in 2009, she remained in the sport, working as a coach for beginning gymnasts in Moscow. And traveling the world as an FIG Brevet accredited international judge.
Elena Zamolodchikova joins the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2015.