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Barcelona 1992 - Key Moments

Vitaly Scherbo, a gymnast for all time

In Barcelona the Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo stole the show with a brilliant and unexpected campaign that captured six Olympic gold medals, evoking memories of American swimmer Mark Spitz, winner of seven golds in Munich in 1972.

On arrival in Barcelona, Scherbo was not regarded as an automatic favourite for a major medals haul. Instead, it was Ukrainian Igor Korobchinsky, recent European champion, who was widely considered the best bet.

But by finishing fifth in the team competition with three of his team-mates ranked ahead of him, Korobchinsky had to make do with watching the individual events from the gallery, the reason being that only three competitors from each delegation are permitted to compete in the event.

This gave 20-year-old Scherbo the opportunity to show the extent of his talent. After a brilliant performance he lifted his second title following his success in the team event.

Unhealthy reputation

The Belarussian finished first in the pommel horse, the rings and the floor. In the vault and parallel bars he was happy to add two silver medals to his tally, while on the horizontal bar he finished in fifth place.

Two days later, in the individual events Scherbo's name was entered into the record books when he won four golds: parallel bars, rings, vault and the pommel horse.

On this final piece of apparatus, Scherbo ended on equal terms with North Korea's Pae Gil-Su. It was the fifth time in the history of the Games and the third consecutive time that a situation like this had arisen.

Strangely though, Scherbo's exploits in Barcelona did not make him a celebrity in his home country. One of the probable reasons was his image. In general, he was regarded as arrogant and very sure of himself, as seen in his steely facial expressions at the end of each exercise.

In the end, Scherbo's six medal wins would not be repeated. In the next Olympiad in Atlanta, he would return home without successfully defending any of his titles.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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