I think my first memory of Elena Mukhina goes back to when I was about six years old. She who broke her neck tumbling. It's one of those things that you don't think about when you're six and tumbling (admittedly, not on the Thomas salto scale) is about the most fun way to spend your afternoon.
In case you've got no idea who Elena was...
While of course she is most remembered for the skill that's since been removed from the COP (largely because of her accident), Elena was an outstanding and pioneering gymnast, lending her name to several skills, including the Mukhina salto on floor. My personal favourite Mukhina "move"? Her now-defunct, almost death-defying full-twisting layout Korbut on uneven bars. And yup, it's about as complicated as it sounds. Watch it below (0:09 - 0:12) Since the current COP forbids standing on the high bar - and rightly, too! - gymnasts no longer perform the skill, but it is just so crazy-difficult and cool that you simply must watch!
As for the Thomas salto? Well, like to be honest, I don't even know why women were trying to do it in the first place. It's freakin' ugly. It just doesn't look nice when performed by women. Some skills do - the Deltchev (my personal lovechild of uneven bars) is a good example of a skill that works for both women and men, but the Thomas just does not. It looks, to be frank, like a fail. It's disgusting that coaches would force the young Elena into this skill, but the fact is they did, and look what happened.
In 2006, Elena passed away from "complications relating to quadriplegia".