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Gymnastics Hall of Fame Honors Five Legends
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Five gymnastics legends were honored Saturday evening at the annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Oklahoma City. Matthias Köste (who accepted the award on behalf of his late father, inductee Klaus Köste), Jackie Fie, Frank Bare Award winner Gordan Maddox, Natalia Yurchenko and Li Yuejiu.

Five gymnastics legends were honored Saturday evening at the annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Oklahoma City.

The 18th annual ceremony, held at Oklahoma City's Petroleum Club, formally inducted Li Yuejiu (China), Klaus Köste (Germany), Natalia Yurchenko (Russia) and Jackie Fie (United States). Former ABC Wide World of Sports commentator Gordon Maddux received the Frank Bare Award.

Chinese legend Li Yuejiu with his IGHOF ring as a member of the induction class of 2014.

The new additions bring the total number of International Gymnastics Hall of Fame inductees to 85 gymnastics legends representing 21 nations.

Li was China's first male world champion, winning floor exercise at the 1981 World Championships in Moscow. He's gone on to become a successful coach in Canada, China and the USA. Today he owns his own club, Legacy Elite, along with his wife, fellow 1984 Olympian Wu Jiani.

"I am honored to accept this award into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame," he said. "I hope my induction inspires my gymnasts at Legacy Elite and all around the world. I also want to thank my beautiful wife, Wu Jiani, and my coaches and teammates who helped me get to where I am today."

Matthias Köste accepted the posthumous award on behalf of his late father, who passed away in 2012. Klaus Köste, a three-time Olympian and the 1972 Olympic champion on vault, became a coach in East Germany after his retirement. However, he continued to compete in an adult gymnastics league well into his 60s, showing impressive skill.

"We (children) learned from him that everyone needs a dream," said Matthias, who presented a handstand sculpture to the IGHOF. "We also learned to accept victory and failure."

Matthias said his mother decided not to travel because it would be too emotional for her. But he also said his father often emphasized positivity and liked the motto, "Don't cry that they are gone; smile that they were here."

Yurchenko, who pioneered the famous round off, back handspring vault, talked of her lifelong passion for gymnastics. Coached by the legendary Vladislav Rastorotsky, she said she woke up each morning excited about going to the gym.

"All my life was dedicated to gymnastics," said Yurchenko, the 1983 world all-around champion. "I had great moments and hard times, but I would never give up that journey. It was love from first sight. All gymnasts know those feelings. It was just a passion and love for it. Every day when I came to the gym - magic. I am so grateful to my country, my parents, my coaches that I had that magic in my life."

Fie, 1956 Olympian, described her humble beginnings in gymnastics that eventually led her to judging. She went on to become the president of the Women's Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation from 1993-2004.

"To be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame is a most humbling experience," she said, "but tonight to me it is a golden evening in my life."

Fie joked that she hoped her speech would be judged out of a 10.0, which brought a huge round of applause from the audience.

"Being up here is harder than judging 10 Olympics Games because my family is here," Fie said. "I just wonder if they will give me a score. I would much prefer to be judged on a 10-point system than to get a 15.7, which is meaningless to me. I held onto it as long as I could, but after I retired we lost that 10-point system and that was my biggest disappointment."

Gordon Maddux received the Frank Bare Award for his contributions to the sport. Maddux was a long-time commentator for ABC Wide of Sports. His enthusiasm and excitement during the 1972 Olympics helped make Olga Korbut a household name in the United States, promoting the popularity of the sport.

"To be honored in his name is really special to me," Maddux said. "Wish you were here, Frank."

All the inductees will have their portraits hang on the wall of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame exhibit in Oklahoma City. The female inductees received a silver bracelet, while the male inductees each received a ring.

The honorees will extend the celebration with a trip to Las Vegas, where the planned festivities include behind-the-scenes visits to two Cirque du Soleil show.

External Link: International Gymnastics Hall of Fame

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