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'Four Honored At IGHOF Hall of Fame Dinner'
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“It’s the athletes and their stories that make this a great event,” said emcee Bart Conner at the 23rd annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Dinner on May 18, at the Petroleom Club in Oklahoma City. The four inductees where Shawn Johnson, Ivan Ivankov, Maria Filatova and Li Xiaopeng, who could not attend.

Including those four honorees, the Hall of Fame has inducted 102 individuals from 22 nations.

Hardy Fink earned the International order of Merit, for his work with the FIG Academies where he goes literally all around the world teaching struggling nations how to improve their gymnastics.

“I am so delighted,” he said. “I am already a winner by being here; it is the highest award possible. Remembering will inspire our future!”

Fink was the youngest ever to become an international brevet judge.

Next was Maria Filatova and she wanted to speak in Russian and her daughter translated, and both teared up during her speech.

“Thank you very much for inviting me to this special occasion,” she said. “I want to thank everyone who helped me succeed. I am very happy that gymnastics was part of my life.”

Ivan Ivankov was next. Both Bart Conner and Paul Ziert sort of rescued him when he had multiple surgeries on his Achilles’ tendon. They offered him a job at Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Oklahoma. That put him on a path to win his second world all-around title at the 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (The previous one was in Brisbane, Australia, in ’94.)

“Paul Ziert is the godfather of gymnastics,” said Ivankov, fighting back tears. “I am taking this to my heart. These guys helped me out when I needed it most.”

Last to speak was Shawn Johnson, whose husband, Andrew East, is a long-snapper for the Washington Redskins football team.

“When Nastia Liukin called she urged me to take this call from Bart Conner,” Johnson said. “Was I in trouble? I was in shock when he told me I was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I never thought of myself as a legend. I did gymnastic because it was fun, and Chow always had a smile on his face. And sometimes when we finished what we were working on, he would take us out to Dairy Queen!”

Read the complete stories in the 2019 June issue of International Gymnastics Magazine.

To order back issues, or to subscribe to International Gymnast, click here.

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