The first time rhythmic gymnastics was on the Olympic program was Los Angeles 1984 and the Soviet-led boycott meant the top gymnasts from Bulgaria and Soviet Union were absent. Canada’s Lori Fung had finished 23rd at the 1983 World Championships the year before, but took advantage of the Olympic opportunity in the surprise upset of her training partner, Romania’s Doina Staiculesuc. In winning the gold medal by 0.050 points, Fung, who did not finish first in any of the four apparatus, became the first Olympic champion in the history of rhythmic gymnastics. A medal prospect for Seoul 1988, Fung was suffering from the lingering effects of appendicitis, Epstein–Barr virus and tendinitis, which caused her to retire from active competition.
Fung made her World Championships debut in 1981 finishing 30th and had a top-10 finish of ninth at the 1985 World Championships. Enroute to the 1987 World Championships, Fung was struck with appendicitis and underwent surgery, leaving her unable to compete.Seven times a Canadian champion from 1982-1988, Fung captured Four Continents titles three times in the 80’s, and was the 1985 Swiss International overall champion.
In a sport with such a low profile that almost nobody in Canada had heard of it, Fung started in rhythmic gymnastics at age 13 after a keen-eyed elementary school teacher noticed her natural talent. Under the direction of coach Mall Vesik, Fung finished high school by correspondence so she could focus on her training. Between 1977 and 1984, she won every British Columbia Provincial Championship, and from 1981 to 1983, she won the Canadian Western Regional Championships.
After retiring, Fung became a highly sought after coach working with the national teams from Canada, United States and Mexico, and with local clubs in British Columbia. A co-owner of a Vancouver gymnastics club, she led flexibility training courses for figure skaters, synchronized swimmers, hockey players, martial artists, dancers and other athletes. Fung married former junior hockey player Dean Methorst and had three sons. She had a small part in the film Catwoman as an aerial ballerina, and gave performances before Pope John Paul II, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Elton John and the Prime Minister of Canada at the Michener Gala.
Fung was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame and Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, and made a Member of the Order of British Columbia in 1990 and Order of Canada in 1995.
|Los Angeles 1984||Gymnastics - Rhythmic||Individual - Women||Gold|