Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics Results by Year

Tokyo, 2020: 

Rhythmic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics saw a dramatic changing of the guard after two decades of Russian dominance. In both the individual all-around and group finals, the Russian favorites finished second to Bulgaria after winning both at the last five straight games. Israel's Linoy Ashram pulled off a stunning upset in the individual all-around final over three-time world all-around champion and heavy gold medal favorite Dina Averina to win her nation's second gymnastics gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics and first ever in rhythmic gymnastics.

Rio, 2016: 

After Evgeniya Kanaeva retired, Russia's Margarita Mamun outscored teammate Yana Kudryavtseva to win the nation's fifth consecutive individual medal, and Russia finished first and second for the third time (following 2004 and 2012). Ukraine's Hanna Rizatdinova claimed bronze. Bulgaria was Russia's biggest challenger in the group competition, leading the qualifying round by 0.233 points ahead of the defending Olympic champions. In the final, the Russians dominated to capture a fifth consecutive gold medal. Spain and Bulgaria tied for second place, but the silver went to Spain because their execution score was one tenth of a point higher.

Individual rhythmic gymnastics podium at the Rio Olympics
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Russia's Margarita Mamun outscored teammate Yana Kudryavtseva to win the nation's fifth consecutive individual medal. Ukraine's Hanna Rizatdinova won bronze.
USA Today Sports

London, 2012: 

For the first time in Olympic history, an individual rhythmic gymnast successfully defended her all-around title. Russia's Evgeniya Kanaeva won her second Olympic gold in London, and at 22 years old became the oldest rhythmic gymnast to become Olympic champion. Russia's Darya Dmitriyeva and Belarus' Liubov Charkashyna took silver and bronze, respectively. In the group competition, the Russian women won their fourth consecutive title, followed by the groups from Belarus and Italy. 

Beijing, 2008: 

Evgeniya Kanaeva of Russia won the individual gold medal in impressive fashion, posting the top score on all four apparatuses and securing the most dominant win in the sport's Olympic history. She defeated Inna Zhukova of Belarus by more than three-and-a-half points. Anna Bessonova of Ukraine took home the bronze medal. In the group final, Russia won its third consecutive Olympic gold medal, edging China in second by 0.325 points. The team from Belarus finished third.

Athens, 2004: 

Russia's dominance in the sport was on full display when the nation took its second consecutive group gold, outdistancing silver medalist Italy by over one-and-a-half points. The next day, Alina Kabaeva and Irina Chashchina took individual gold and silver, respectively. For Kabayeva, a two-time world champion and five-time European champion, Olympic gold was the only individual title she had not won. 

Sydney, 2000: 

Two nations with rich traditions in gymnastics, Russia and Belarus, tied for first in the rhythmic group event, with Russia winning gold through the tie-breaker system. The nations also went 1-2 in the individual all-around, as Yulia Barsukova capitalized on a hoop mistake by fellow Russian Alina Kabaeva (bronze) to win the title. Belarus's Yulia Raskina took silver. Barsukova, relatively old for her sport at age 21, was a ballet specialist who often performed in concerts at Moscow's famed Bolshoi Theatre.

Atlanta, 1996: 

Rhythmic gymnastics' group competition debuted in Atlanta, and Spain edged Bulgaria for gold as a non-Eastern European nation enjoyed rare Olympic success in the sport. In the individual all-around, Ukraine's Yekaterina Serebryanskaya and Elena Vitrichenko won gold and bronze, respectively, to flank Russian runner-up Yana Batyrshina on the podium. Bulgaria's Maria Petrova, a three-time world champion, again placed fifth and then accused the judges of being biased.

Barcelona, 1992: 

Rhythmic gymnastics in Barcelona began with a new qualifying formula befuddling to many observers and competitors. It also saw Bulgaria's Maria Petrova penalized when her zipper broke during a routine, causing the back of her leotard to pop open. Ukraine's Alexandra Timoshenko, representing the Unified Team, won gold. Oksana Skaldina, also from Ukraine, placed third and promptly accused the judges of favoring silver medalist Carolina Pascual Garcia because she was Spanish.

Seoul, 1988: 

Belarus native Marina Lobach earned perfect scores across the board, thanks in part to a musician's versatility. During her clubs performance, Lobach nearly exceeded the time limit - which would have drawn a penalty - but her pianist picked up the pace, allowing the Soviet to complete her routine just in time.

Los Angeles, 1984: 

The Eastern-bloc boycott left rhythmic gymnastics without several top athletes for its Olympic debut (only an individual event) in Los Angeles. Among the absentees were the top-five finishers from the 1983 World Championships. It was nonetheless surprising when 21-year-old Vancouver native Lori Fung - 23rd at the 1983 Worlds - won gold. Fung later performed for such dignitaries as Pope John Paul II, Elton John and Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did rhythmic gymnastics become an Olympic sport?

Rhythmic gymnastics made its Olympic debut in 1984 at the Los Angles Games with the individual all-around competition. The group all-around competition was added in 1996. 

Where did rhythmic gymnastics originate?

In 1911, a German educator named Rudolf Bode founded the Bode School for Rhythmic Gymnastics and began educating hundreds of teachers. The school, which still exists today, was a major contributor to the technical development of rhythmic gymnastics as an activity. In 1946, rhythmic gymnastics became a formal sport, practiced exclusively by women. 

The sport held its first World Championships in Budapest in 1963, the same year rhythmic gymnastics became an International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) discipline. 

Who is the best Olympic rhythmic gymnast of all time?

Evgeniya Kanaeva of Russia is often considered to be the greatest rhythmic gymnast of all time as she is the only rhythmic gymnast in history to win two all-around gold medals (2008 and 2012). Kanaeva also holds the record for most world titles (17) and European titles (13). 

At the 2009 World Championship in Mie, Japan, Kanaeva became the first rhythmic gymnast to win all six titles. She repeated the feat at the 2011 World Championship in Montpellier, France, equaling her own record. Anna Bessonova of Ukraine is one of the most decorated rhythmic gymnasts of all time with two Olympic medals (bronze in 2004 and 2008) and 27 world medals from 2001 to 2009. 

What is the best Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team of all time?

Russia is one of the most dominant forces in Olympic history, having won five out of seven group all-around gold medals. Russia leads the Olympic medal leaderboard with a dominant 16 medals. Bulgaria sits second with five Olympic medals - with its first Olympic gold at the Tokyo 2020 Games.