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Kim Zmeskal
Kim Zmeskal Burdette 2014.jpg
Zmeskal in Jesolo in March 2014
Personal information
Full nameKimberly Lynn Zmeskal Burdette
Country represented United States
Born (1976-02-06) February 6, 1976 (age 45)
Houston, Texas, U.S.[1][2]
Height4 ft 8 in (142 cm)[3]
DisciplineWomen's artistic gymnastics
LevelSenior international elite
Years on national team1988–1993; 1998–2000 (USA)
ClubKarolyi's Gymnastics, CGA
Texas Dreams (coach)
Former coach(es)Béla Károlyi,
Mary Lee Tracy[2]
RetiredJanuary 28, 2000
Medal record
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 1992 Barcelona Team
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1991 Indianapolis All around
Gold medal – first place 1992 Paris Balance beam
Gold medal – first place 1992 Paris Floor exercise
Silver medal – second place 1991 Indianapolis Team
Bronze medal – third place 1991 Indianapolis Floor exercise
Goodwill Games
Silver medal – second place 1990 Seattle Team
Bronze medal – third place 1990 Seattle Uneven Bars
Bronze medal – third place 1990 Seattle Floor Exercise
American Cup
Gold medal – first place 1990 Fairfax All around
Gold medal – first place 1992 Orlando All around
Silver medal – second place 1991 Orlando All around

Kimberly Lynn Zmeskal Burdette (née Zmeskal on February 6, 1976) is an American retired artistic gymnast turned gymnastics coach and the 1991 World All-Around champion. A member of the silver medal-winning U.S. team from the 1991 World Championships (the first team medal ever won by the U.S. women at a world championships), she was the first American woman to ever win the all-around title at the World Championships, as well as the first to win a world championship medal of any color in the all-around. A three-time United States national all-around champion (1990–92), Zmeskal is also the 1992 world champion on both balance beam and floor exercise, and was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. team at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, the first U.S. team medal won at a fully attended Olympic Games.

Known for her explosive power and tumbling on vault and floor, Zmeskal is regarded as one of the greatest female gymnasts of all time and arguably the best in the world during the early 1990s. Her all-around win also sparked the beginning of a dynasty of American dominance in women's gymnastics (since 1992, six American women have won world all-around titles, and 12 of the last 19 all-around world championship titles (including 10 of the last 12) were won by an American) and the reemergence of power and athleticism in the sport. She currently coaches gymnastics and co-owns Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell, Texas, with her husband Chris Burdette.

Early life and training

Zmeskal was born in Houston, Texas, to Clarice and David Zmeskal. She has one younger sister, Melissa. From a young age, Zmeskal trained with coaching great Béla Károlyi, who had bought a run-down gym in Zmeskal's Houston neighborhood. This gave Zmeskal the opportunity to observe and interact with her heroine, Mary Lou Retton, who went on to win the Olympic all-around gold medal in 1984 when Zmeskal was eight. She attended Westfield High School like many of Károlyi's other top gymnasts to accommodate her training schedule, graduating in 1994.[4]

In 1989, at the age of 13, Zmeskal became the U.S. Junior National Champion.[5] She also took first place in the American Classic, the Swiss Cup Mixed Pairs (with Lance Ringnald), and the Arthur Gander Memorial. Zmeskal went on to become a three-time consecutive U.S. National Champion.[6] In international events, she began a rivalry with the Soviet Union's Svetlana Boginskaya.[7]

In 1990, Zmeskal won her first senior title in her debut at the American Cup. Later that year in Denver, she won her first U.S. Senior National All-Around title, more than four-tenths of a point ahead of her friend and training partner Betty Okino. She also won silver on bars (tied with two other gymnasts), balance beam, and floor exercise in the event finals.

Zmeskal was unable to defend her American Cup title, losing to Okino by a margin of just .225 points, but won the event finals for beam and floor. She then defended her U.S. National All-Around title in Cincinnati, where she also won the national title on floor alongside Dominique Dawes and placed second on beam. At the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis, she helped the team win the silver medal, the first team medal for the American women in World Championship history, beating out the Romanians to finish second behind the Soviet Union. She scored a perfect 10.000 on the vault in the final rotation of the optional rounds, one of only two perfect 10's at the championships, and becoming the first (and only) American woman to ever score a perfect 10 at the World Championships. Zmeskal also became the first American to win the World all-around gold medal, posting scores of 9.962 on the vault, 9.937 on uneven bars, 9.962 on the beam, and 9.987 on the floor to defeat reigning world champion Svetlana Boginskaya with a total score of 39.848.[8] She also won bronze on the floor and placed seventh on vault in the event finals.

1992 Barcelona Olympics

Having recently become world all-around champion, Americans had high hopes for Zmeskal and the U.S. team heading the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, with Zmeskal earning the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines before the Games. Proving her all-around title wasn't a fluke, Zmeskal added two more World titles at the individual apparatus World Championships in Paris, winning gold on the balance beam and the floor exercise with upgraded routines and increased difficulty. At the U.S. National Championships in Columbus and the Olympic Trials in Baltimore, Zmeskal battled an emerging Shannon Miller, with Miller defeating Zmeskal at the Trials in a controversial finish.[9] Nonetheless, Zmeskal won her third consecutive U.S. National All-Around title, becoming the first female gymnast to ever win three consecutive national all-around championships, won national titles on beam and floor, and placed second on vault and uneven bars.

Despite being picked as the clear-cut favorite for the all-around title and multiple gold medals, Zmeskal's Olympics began poorly as she fell off the balance beam during her compulsory routine on the first night of competition. Although she would rebound with performances on the floor, vault, and bars, Zmeskal was in 32nd place after the compulsories and 5th on the American team, who were second behind the Unified Team after the compulsories.[10] She would further rebound with scores of 9.900 on uneven bars, 9.912 on the beam, 9.925 on floor, and 9.950 on the vault during the finals of the team competition, moving Zmeskal into 12th place and into the all-around competition by finishing third among the American women. Her combined score of 39.687 for the night was the highest of any competitor. The American women won the bronze medal in the team competition behind the Unified Team and Romania with a total score of 394.704 points, their first ever team medal in a non-boycotted Olympic Games. She also qualified to the event finals on vault and floor exercise.

Although she earned enough points to compete in the all-around competition, Zmeskal would falter during her first event of the competition, floor exercise, stepping out of bounds on her last tumbling pass. She faltered again in the final rotation with a shaky beam routine and finished 10th in the all-around final. Zmeskal finished off the podium in event finals as well, placing 8th on the vault after sitting down her second vault, and 6th in the floor final (although many commentators and coaches alike felt that she should have at least tied for the bronze medal). It would later be revealed that Zmeskal was suffering from a stress fracture in her ankle before the Olympics began.

Comeback and retirement

Any dreams for a comeback to compete in the 1996 Olympic Games would be dashed due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee suffered during a floor exercise.

In 1998, Zmeskal returned to competition with a decent showing at the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis. By 1999, she was even considered a possibility for the 2000 Olympics team and represented the U.S. internationally. However, a torn achilles tendon on a double tuck on floor ended her career that year.

That same year, on October 23, she married coach Chris Burdette, whom she had met during a clinic. They wed at Karolyi's Ranch. Zmeskal now spends time with her husband, speaking and coaching, and opened a coaching program in Coppell, Texas entitled Texas Dreams Gymnastics. She has coached multiple US National Team athletes. The Burdettes had their first child, son Robert Ryder, in May 2005. Their second child, son Koda Christopher, was born July 17, 2006. Zmeskal announced in July 2009 via Twitter that she and her husband were expecting their third child, a girl. Riven was born on February 10, 2010 weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces.

Zmeskal was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in May 2012.[11] She is a Catholic.

Gymnastic trademarks

Zmeskal was recognized for her middle tumbling pass on floor which consisted of a round-off, three consecutive whip-backs, back-handspring, into a double-back in the tucked position (sometimes with four whips into double-back). Another trademark was the way she would flare her arms out during full-twisting elements, most notably on her full-twisting Yurchenko vault.

Another signature move was the reverse planche with one bent leg, which was her opening move on the balance beam.


  1. ^ Kim Zmeskal.
  2. ^ a b Kim Zmeskal.
  3. ^ Gutman, Dan (1996). Gymnastics. USA: Penguin. ISBN 9781101160657. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  4. ^ Kim Zmeskal Burdette. Facebook. Retrieved on 2017-10-17.
  5. ^ Litsky, Frank (June 11, 1990). "A Senior Crown at Age 14". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  6. ^ Janofsky, Michael (June 11, 1992). "OLYMPICS; Zmeskal's Rise to Top Can Be Interrupted by a Fall". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2012. Her national title in Columbus, Ohio, last month was her third....
  7. ^ Janofsky, Michael (September 15, 1991). "GYMNASTICS; Zmeskal Driven to Overall Success". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  8. ^ Swift, E.M. (September 23, 1991). "A Wow At The Worlds". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  9. ^ Janofsky, Michael (June 15, 1992). "OLYMPICS; The Trial Is Not Over For Female Gymnasts". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  10. ^ Janofsky, Michael (July 27, 1992). "BARCELONA: GYMNASTICS; A Stunning Reverse In Zmeskal's Opener". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  11. ^ "Kim Zmeskal makes Gymnastics Hall". May 20, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 8 August 2021, at 19:27
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