Born February 9
, Svetlana Boguinskaia started figure skating
as a child then began gymnastics
at the age of eight in her hometown of Minsk
. Six years later, she had become part of the Soviet Union
's senior national team, and won the bronze medal on beam
at the 1987
At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Boguinskaia joined her teammates in the team gold medal, and won the bronze in the all-around competition. She also earned the gold on vault and silver on floor exercise - but going into the games, the Soviet coaches had expected her to win the all-around gold, which was taken instead by Boguinskaia's teammate Elena Shushunova. Not consoled by having the gold and bronze medals (silver went to Romanian Daniela Silivas), Boguinskaia's coach committed suicide three days after the Olympics ended. Lyobov Miromanova had been coach and caretaker to Boguinskaia since she moved from Minsk to the Round Lake training center outside Moscow at age 10.
Despite the tragedy, Boguinskaia won the World Championships in 1989 but came close to retirement several times. At the age of 19 she was selected captain of the Unified Team for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. A bit tall at five feet four inches and the only returning medalist in the Games, she won just one medal, the team gold, and finished fifth in the all-around. Boguinskaia retired shortly after the Olympics and moved to the United States in 1994, intending to work in Boston. She found herself moving to Houston quickly, though, to train with famed coach Bela Karolyi. Although she intended to continue gymnastics "just for fun," Boguinskaia started a comeback and placed second in both the American Cup and European Championships of 1996. In the Olympic Games of that year, she competed for Belarus, placing fourteenth all-around and fifth in the vault. She is one of only four women in gymnastics history to have competed in three Olympic games (the others being Larissa Latynina, Vera Caslavska, and Ludmilla Tourischeva).
Today, Boguinskaia spends her time modeling and endorsing products usually related to gymnastics, and hopes to open a gym of her own. She takes English lessons to help with her interest in a career in broadcasting, and enjoys cooking and dancing.