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Stella Zakharova
Zakharova stella 3.jpg
Zakharova at the 1980 World Cup

Country represented

Flag of the Soviet Union.png USSR


July 12 1963 (1963-07-12) (age 58)
Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, USSR

Years on National Team


Current status


Stella Zakharova (born 12 July 1963 in Odessa, Ukraine) is a retired gymnast who competed internationally for the former Soviet Union between 1977 and 1982. She was an Olympic and World Championship gold medalist in team competitions, and won individual all-around titles at other events.

Zakharova won her first all-around championship at the 1976 All-Union School Spartakiade. That same year she placed second overall in the Junior USSR Championships. She was a consistently strong competitor through 1977-78, winning several vaulting and floor exercise event titles. A powerful tumbler, Zakharova was the first woman to incorporate three double-back somersaults into her floor routine.

Zakhrova's most successful year was 1979, during which she won individual all-around championships at the American Cup, Moscow News, and World Cup events. At the World Championships held in Fort Worth, Texas she was a member of the Soviet women's team which finished second to the Romanian squad led by an injured Nadia Comăneci. It was the first time the Soviets had failed to beat their Romanian rivals in a major team competition.

In 1980 Zakharova continued to enjoy success, winning the gold medal with her Soviet teammates at the Olympic games and capturing a second all-around title at the World Cup. That proved to be her high-water mark, as her performances began to decline from 1981 onward.

After retirement, Stella Zakharova married Dynamo Kiev football player Viktor Khlus. The couple have a son and a daughter. Zakharova's home country Ukraine hosts an annual Stella Zakharova Cup competition in artistic gymnastics, named in her honor.

Footage of Stella Zakharova training with the Soviet national team was captured in a 1978 Soviet Gymnastics training documentary; Zakharova appears about one minute into the clip. Included in the film are teammates Elena Mukhina, Natalia Shaposhnikova and Maria Filatova.

Medal Count

Year Event TF AA VT UB BB FX
1976 All-Union School Spartakiade 1st
Junior USSR Championships 2nd 1st 3rd
Junior USSR Cup 1st 1st 1st 1st
1978 USSR Cup 2nd 1st
1979 Dial American Cup 1st
International Mixed Pairs 2nd
Moscow News 1st 1st 3rd 1st
Fort Worth World Championships 2nd 2nd
Tokyo World Cup Final 1st 2nd 3rd 2nd
USSR Championships 4 10 1st 5 4
1980 Moscow Olympic Games 1st
Toronto World Cup Final 1st 1st 2nd
USSR Cup 4
USSR Championships 4 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Moscow News 1st 1st 1st
1981 Moscow World Championships 1st 2nd
USSR Cup 3rd
USSR Championships 3rd 2nd

American Cup Champions
Nadia ComăneciKathy Johnson • Natalia Tereschenko • Stella ZakharovaTracee TalaveraJulianne McNamara | Zoja GrancharovaMary Lou RettonKristie PhillipsPhoebe MillsBrandy JohnsonKim ZmeskalBetty OkinoKim ZmeskalShannon MillerDominique DawesKristy PowellKerri StrugElvire TezaViktoria KarpenkoJennie ThompsonElena ProdunovaElena ZamolodchikovaTasha SchwikertCarly PattersonAlicia Sacramone (VT) | Chellsie Memmel (UB) | Zhang Nan-Nastia Liukin (BB) | Patricia Moreno (FX) • Nastia LiukinShawn JohnsonNastia LiukinJordyn WieberRebecca BrossJordyn WieberKatelyn OhashiElizabeth PriceSimone BilesGabby DouglasRagan SmithMorgan HurdLeanne WongMorgan Hurd