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1969 European Championships MAG

1969: Mikhail Voronin Retains His Title at the Men’s European Championships

On May 24 and 25, 1969, just months after the Olympic Games, the top male gymnasts in Europe gathered in Warsaw for the European Championships. As expected, the Soviet gymnasts dominated the meet.

In 1969, the rules for the European Championships changed. Each country could send three gymnasts instead of two. (Meanwhile, in women’s artistic gymnastics, countries continued to send only two gymnasts to the European Championships.) But the Soviet gymnasts were unable to sweep the all-around podium because Lisitsky had a major break on pommel horse.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

Viktor Klimenko, 1970

Newspaper Coverage | Results | Video Footage | Commentary on the Code and Judging

Newspaper Coverage

In the May 27, 1969 edition of Swiss newspaper L’Impartial, there was a summary of the men’s competition at the European Championships. It captured most of the important points about the meet. At the end of this section and in the results section, there are additional notes that fill in a few gaps.

Three titles for Voronin, one Swiss in the final

With three gold medals, one silver and one bronze, the Soviet Mikhail Voronin was the big winner of the 7th European Championships, which ended in Warsaw with the apparatus finals. His most dangerous rival was his young compatriot Viktor Klimenko, who racked up four medals (including two gold) in the apparatus finals and whose record (two gold and three silver) is almost as brilliant. In total, the Soviets collected a dozen medals, and they therefore largely dominated these European games. The best non-Soviet was still the Yugoslav Miroslav Cerar, who had to settle for three medals (one gold, one silver, and one bronze). The Swiss Roland Hürzeler managed to reach the final on the parallel bars. By placing fifth, he affirms the progress made under the direction of national coach Jack Günthard.

Saturday during the Day

As expected, the first day of the European men’s championships, in Warsaw, saw, in the all-around competition, the domination of the two Soviets Mikhail Voronin (24), world champion in Dortmund in 1966, and Viktor Klimenko (20 years old), bronze medal in Mexico City. These two men respectively took first and second place.

Voronin successfully defended the title that he won in Helsinki in 1967. After his victory, he declared that he was very satisfied but that the hardest part remained to be done. The Soviets would compete against the Japanese, his great rivals, at the end of the year.

The two Polish brothers Mikołaj Kubica (24 years old) and Sylvester Kubica (19 years old) were respectively third and fifth, while the Yugoslav Miroslav Cerar (European champion in 1961 and 1963) took fourth place. In this tough field, the three Swiss entrants had excellent performances. Roland Hürzeler, who this time did not fail, took a brilliant tenth place (in Helsinki he had finished 27th). Hürzeler had a total of 55.25 points. Only one of his scores, the vault (8.80), was below a 9.0. He participated in the final on parallel bars. Meinrad Berchtold placed thirteenth, as in Helsinki. Consistent, he disappointed somewhat on his specialty, vaulting. Finally, Peter Aliesch, selected at the last hour, had the merit of appearing in the first half of the 60 competitors.

The Last Day

The floor exercise was marked by the victory of an unprecedented gymnast, the Bulgarian Ravtcho Hristov, who clearly dominated all his rivals. Hristov, whose style is very reminiscent of that of the Italian F. Menichelli, succeeded Finn Lasse Laine, who had failed to qualify for the final. As for the pommel horse, the overall level was quite extraordinary, all the finalists had extremely difficult routines. Yugoslav Miroslav Cerar retained his title with 9.80. The rings final brought together only gymnasts from the East. Mikhail Voronin improved further on this apparatus, which earned him his first single apparatus title. On vaulting, Klimenko easily got the top scores. Voronin only managed here a rather modest first vault for him, but his second attempt allowed him to share second place with Pole Mikołaj Kubica.

Hürzeler unlucky!

On parallel bars, the Swiss Roland Hürzeler had started his routine very well, but he made a mistake on his Diamodov-style “spin,” which cost him two tenths and probably a medal. Voronin played it safe here and hardly was worried. The high bar final was a bit disappointing. Only three finalists did not have a major fault. Among them, the Soviets Lisitsky and Klimenko who, like Cerar and Kubica on the pommel horse, shared first place.

Other Notes

For the first time, countries could send 3 gymnasts to the European Championships. Previously, they could send only two.

This was a record turnout of competitors for the event (with almost every country entering 3 men (this was a new rule, in the past only two men per country were eligible).

Modern Gymnast, Oct. 1969

According to Modern Gymnast, Hürzeler did something similar to a Markelov on high bar:

Jump with hand over bar with half turn (180°), straddle position, grasp horizontal bar. It is a variety of ‘Voronin’ but more effective.

Modern Gymnast, Oct. 1969

Lisitsky finished low in the all-around because of a mistake on pommel horse:

Lisitsky of USSR missed on the Horse and only scored 8.45 and Menichelli of Italy, not fully recovered from his Achilles tendon break in Mexico, did not start.

Modern Gymnast, Oct. 1969

Results

Below, you’ll find the results, along with the commentary from Andrzej Gonera in the October issue of Modern Gymnast. Gonera competed for Poland at the 1968 Olympics.

All-Around: Top 20

GymnastCountryFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1. Voronin,
Mikhail
URS9.3509.7509.7009.4009.5509.70057.450
2. Klimenko,
Viktor
URS9.5009.5509.6009.3009.4509.60057.000
3. Kubica,
Mikołaj
POL9.4509.6009.6509.2509.4509.45056.850
4. Cerar,
Miroslav
YUG9.4009.7009.3009.0009.4509.60056.450
5. Kubica,
Sylwester
POL9.4009.3509.3509.2509.2009.45056.000
6. Kubica,
Wilhelm
POL9.3509.7509.4508.8508.7009.55055.650
6. Guiffroy,
Christian
FRA9.1509.4009.3509.1009.2009.45055.650
8. Lisitsky,
Viktor
URS9.4008.4509.6009.1009.3509.60055.500
9. Hristov,
Raitcho
BUL9.6009.1509.2008.8509.0009.50055.300
10. Hürzeler,
Roland
SUI9.0509.3009.2008.8009.4509.45055.250
11. Netušil,
Miloslav
TCH9.2509.4009.3008.7009.2509.30055.200
12. Nehasil,
Vladislav
TCH9.2509.3509.1508.8009.2009.35055.100
13. Berchtold,
Meinard
SUI9.1009.1509.3008.9509.2009.30055.000
14. Herczeg,
Béla
HUN8.9509.3509.1508.7509.3009.30054.800
14. Nissinen,
Mauno
FIN8.9009.4509.3008.7009.4009.05054.800
16. Tepasse,
Helmut
FRG9.0509.2009.0008.9509.2009.35054.750
16. Jönsson,
Christer
SWE8.9509.2009.0009.0009.2009.40054.750
16. Janez,
Brodnik
YUG9.2009.0509.2508.9008.9509.40054.750
19. Deuza,
Christian
FRA9.2509.3008.9508.8009.1009.30054.700
19. Thune,
Wolfgang
GDR8.8508.9509.3509.0009.1509.40054.700

Floor Exercise

GymnastCountryQuals.FinalsTotal
1. Hristov,
Raitcho
BUL9.6009.60019.200
2. Lisitsky,
Viktor
URS9.4009.45018.850
3. Kubica,
Sylwester
POL9.4009.40018.800
4. Kubica,
Mikołaj
POL9.4509.20018.650
4. Cerar,
Miroslav
YUG9.4009.25018.650
6. Klimenko,
Viktor
URS9.5009.00018.500

Bulgaria’s Christow [Hristov] was a surprise winner in FX, but he had a difficult exercise that included a double somersault and he deserved the trophy.

Modern Gymnast, Oct. 1969

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes in this section come from this issue of Modern Gymnast.

My thought bubble: It’s significant that Hristov won the floor title with a double back. At the Olympics in 1968, the winning routines featured full-twisting layouts. Less than a year later, a gymnast won an FIG-organized meet with a double back. That showed where the event was heading.

Pommel Horse 

GymnastCountryQuals.FinalsTotal
1. Cerar,
Miroslav
YUG9.7009.80019.500
1. Kubica,
Wilhelm
POL9.7509.75019.500
3. Voronin,
Mikhail
URS9.7509.70019.450
4. Dietrich,
Gerhard
GDR9.5509.65019.200
4. Kubica,
Mikołaj
POL9.6009.60019.200
6. Nissinen,
Mauno
FIN9.4509.60019.050

All finalists’ exercises were on a high level with Cerar once again proving he is a master of the Side Horse and Wilhelm Kubica gained prestige as he shored first place with Cerar (Kubica has great technique but his combination is not very original).

In the Olympische Turnkunst article translated below, Alfred Klingberg called it “the best pommel horse final ever.”


Still Rings

GymnastCountryQuals.FinalsTotal
1. Voronin,
Mikhail
URS9.7009.80019.500
2. Kubica,
Mikołaj
POL9.6509.65019.300
2. Klimenko,
Viktor
URS9.6009.70019.300
4. Lisitsky,
Viktor
URS9.6009.60019.200
5. Kubica,
Wilhelm
POL9.4509.50018.950
5. Köste,
Klaus
GDR9.5009.45018.950

All Ring finalists demonstrated great technique and force (all did straight arm giants to handstand). Perfection was the word for Voronin.

Long-Horse Vault

GymnastCountryQuals.FinalsTotal
1. Klimenko,
Viktor
URS9.3009.35018.650
2. Kubica,
Mikołaj
POL9.2509.30018.550
2. Voronin,
Mikhail
URS9.4009.15018.550
4. Kubica,
Sylwester
POL9.2509.27518.525
5. Lisitsky,
Viktor
URS9.1009.25018.350
6. Guiffroy,
Christian
FRA9.1009.07518.175

All of the Gymnasts made a Yamashita vault except Lisitsky who did a Hecht with a full twist and Kimenko who did a Yamashita with a full twist (the level of the vaulting was just mediocre).

Parallel Bars

GymnastCountryQualsFinalsTotal
1. Voronin,
Mikhail
URS9.5509.50019.050
2. Cerar,
Miroslav
YUG9.4509.50018.950
2. Klimenko,
Viktor
URS9.4509.50018.950
4. Kubica,
Mikołaj
POL9.4509.40018.850
5. Hürzeler,
Roland
URS9.4509.35018.800
6. Nissinen,
Mauno
FIN9.4009.30018.700

On this apparatus, I bring attention to Nissinen’s double somi from a handstand and Hürzeler’s Diamidov dismount and original composition.

Horizontal Bar

GymnastCountryQualsFinalsTotal
1. Klimenko,
Viktor
URS9.6009.65019.250
1. Lisitsky,
Viktor
URS9.6009.65019.250
3. Cerar,
Miroslav
YUG9.6009.60019.200
4. Skoumal,
Václav
TCH9.5509.10018.650
5. Voronin,
Mikhail
URS9.7008.75018.450
6. Köste,
Klaus
GDR9.6508.45018.100

Here, the level of exercises was normal except that Voronin made some big mistakes.


Video

Here’s a translation of the Spanish news report in the video above.

In this report, we see the best gymnasts of Europe who gathered in the Torwar Stadium in Warsaw during the latest Men’s European Championships. We are witnessing the prodigious performance of the German Klaus Köste. It’s a shame that in the end, he didn’t fall on his feet.* On floor exercise, the Bulgarian Ravtcho Hristov won, and the Polish gymnast Mikołaj Kubica won the bronze medal.** His routine was comprised of various skills. This is the Russian Misha Voronin during his performance. The Soviet fought in a fierce rivalry against other athletes, but in the end, he triumphed.*** We close this report with the pommel horse routine of Wilhelm Kubica, who won gold.****

En este reportaje, vemos a los mejores gimnastas de Europa que se dieron cita en el estadio Torvar de Varsovia durante el último campeonato europeo masculino de la especialidad. Presenciamos la prodigiosa actuación del alemán Klaus Köste. Lástima que al final no caiga con buen pie. En ejercicios libres, el búlgaro Hristov logró la victoria y el polaco Mikołaj Kubica obtuvo la medalla de bronce. Su prueba comprendía varios ejercicios. He aquí el ruso Misha Voronin durante su actuación. El soviético contendió en dura rivalidad con otros atletas pero al fin obtuvo el triunfo. Cerramos el reportaje con los ejercicios sobre el potro de Wilhelm Kubica, que ganó la medalla de oro.

*The Spanish “caer de buen pie” is a play on words. “Caer de pie” means to fall on one’s feet. “De buen pie” usually means to start off on the right foot.

**There were three Kubica brothers: Mikołaj, Wilhelm, and Sylwester. The report says that Mikołaj won bronze, but it was Sylwester who won bronze on floor.

***The clip shows Voronin on floor, but he did not win the floor title. They are either talking about his all-around title or his parallel bars title. (He is also shown on parallel bars doing a one-armed handstand.)

****To be more precise, W. Kubica tied with Miroslav Cerar for gold on pommel horse.


Commentary on the Code and Judging

Olympische Turnkunst ran an article on the 1969 Men’s European Championships. It focused on issues with the Code of Points and judging at the event. What follows is a translation.

Note: The article refers to specific sections of the 1968 Code of Points, which you can find here.

Warsaw and the Future of Artistic Gymnastics

After the 8th European Championships in the Polish capital, the question of which direction development in artistic gymnastics will take is more topical than ever. However, the problems are so complex that only a few points can be singled out here.

First a little bit about floor exercise. Lively discussions are currently underway about this discipline. It is primarily about the gymnastic element. The critical observer should therefore not be satisfied with the floor exercise in Warsaw either. He often couldn’t shake the impression that connecting parts only serve to reach certain starting positions for tumbling passes, sometimes even to search for them. It is not uncommon for trivial turns to occur while standing and other embarrassing movements because the direction of movement is no longer correct or the orientation has even been lost. However, the purpose of the gymnastic elements should be to merge all parts of the exercise harmoniously and rhythmically into a seamless unit. In order to achieve this, the transitions, which should be original and varied, should be given far more attention than before. The flow of movement must not — as can be seen again and again — be interrupted at inappropriate points, sometimes almost abruptly. The proportion of static positions should also be reduced. The dynamic elements must dominate even more clearly. Better utilization of the floor exercise area is essential in this context. An exercise can only leave an aesthetic impression if the freedom in the movement of the head and arms is presented more clearly. The multiple Soviet Olympic champion and world champion Larisa Latynina rightly emphasized that the importance of artistic gymnastics lies primarily in its aesthetic content. The judges should also consider this, especially since Section 8 of Article 37 of the code of points offers them sufficient leverage to punish gymnastic defects more severely and differentiated than before and thus have an educational and trend-setting effect on the gymnastics style.

Vault is still controversial. Most ideas are aimed at reforming or excluding this discipline. Anyone who pleads for retention of the current form of performance, however, must recognize that such a sluggish process, as it became evident at times in Warsaw, can hardly be put up with, not least in relation to the spectators. Why two attempts? The danger of failure is far greater on the pommel horse, and even in the compulsory exercises, there are no longer any repetitions. The mode of execution should therefore be changed so that only one attempt is allowed in the compulsory, in the optionals, and in the final, and in each case, a fundamentally different vaulting form must be chosen. Such a regulation would at least save a considerable amount of time. In this context, it should also be checked whether grip zones can be dispensed with. The decisive criterion when evaluating a vault is the execution and here in particular the height and distance of the flight.

What was obvious in Warsaw was the strong tendency of the judges to encourage the choice of difficult vaults by penalizing unsafe landings far less severely in these cases than vaults without turning around the longitudinal axis. It must be said, however, that the six optional judges did not always have a lucky hand in pursuing this line.

The guidelines of the Code de Points (Article 30) regarding the composition of the optional exercise on parallel bars still have an extremely conservative character, because they do not sufficiently accommodate the emphasized swing movements. Why does the exercise have to include at least one strength part? Strength parts could definitely be dispensed with on parallel bars. Even if the FIG technicians do not want to bring themselves to such a solution, the development could be positively influenced if the regulation were to state that a strength section can be performed.

In addition, baskets, Stutzes and back tosses should also be of C quality if they are placed exactly in a handstand. A holding time of two seconds is by no means necessary because it does not promote the flow of the exercise and rhythm. Will the parallel bar routine of the future be a pure swing exercise with no explicit support?

The development on rings is pleasing. There, giants to handstand with stretched arms are already a matter of course for many gymnasts in the middle of the field. With the exception of  Lisitsky, all of the finalists did more with swinging gymnastics than with strength and hold sections. The best Europeans like Cerar, Voronin as well as Wilhelm and Mikołaj Kubica did great on the pommel horse. There’s really nothing to complain about here, because Warsaw brought what was probably the best pommel horse final ever, and that says it all.

The final on high bar was a disappointment. Anyone who has seen Lisitsky’s and Klimenko’s exercises in slow motion is downright shocked by the multitude of postural errors. Certainly, Cerar came off badly against both Soviet gymnasts, also taking into account Articles 32 and 33, Item 15 of the Code of Points. The rating was generally satisfactory. Of course, there was something to complain about here and there. In any case, the judges training initiated by Arthur Gander in 1964 has again proved to be a worthwhile cause.

Warschau und die Zukunft des Kunstturnens

Die Frage, welche Richtung die Entwicklung im Kunstturnen nehmen wird, ist nach den 8. Europameisterschaften in der polnischen Hauptstadt aktueller denn je. Die Probleme liegen aber so vielschichtig, daß hier nur einige Punkte herausgegriffen werden können.

Zunächst einiges zum Bodenturnen. Über diese Disziplin sind gegenwärtig lebhafte Diskussionen im Gange. Dabei geht es in erster Linie um das gymnastische Element. Der kritische Beobachter durfte deshalb auch in Warschau mit dem Bodenturnen nicht zufrieden sein. Er konnte sich oft des Eindrucks nicht erwehren, daß Verbindungsteile nur dazu dienen, um bestimmte Ausgangspositionen für Sprungreihen zu erreichen, ja manchmal sogar zu suchen. Nicht selten kommen dann belanglose Drehungen im Stand und andere Verlegenheitsbewegungen heraus, weil die Bewegungsrichtung nicht mehr stimmt oder gar die Orientierung verlorengegangen ist. Sinn der gymnastischen Elemente aber sollte es doch sein, alle Teile der Übung harmonisch und rhythmisch zu einer nahtlosen Einheit zu verschmelzen. Um das zu erreichen, ist insbesondere den Übergängen, die originell und abwechslungsreich sein sollen, weit mehr Aufmerksamkeit zu widmen als bisher. Der Bewegungsfluß darf nicht – wie es immer wieder zu sehen ist – an unpassenden Stellen, manchmal geradezu abrupt, unterbrochen werden. Auch der Anteil der statischen Figuren sollte verringert werden. Die Dynamik muß noch eindeutiger dominieren. Eine bessere Ausnutzung der Bodenturnfläche ist in diesem Zusammenhang unerläßlich. Eine Übung kann nur dann einen ästhetischen Eindruck hinterlassen, wenn die Freiheiten in der Kopf-und Armführung ausgeprägter dargeboten werden. Die mehrfache sowjetische Olympiasiegerin und Weltmeisterin Larissa Latynina hat völlig zu Recht betont, daß die Bedeutung des Kunstturnens in erster Linie in seinem ästhetischen Gehalt liegt. Das sollten auch die Kampfrichter bedenken, zumal Ziffer 8 des Artikels 37 der Wertungsvorschriften ihnen ausreichende Handhabe bietet, gymnastische Mängel strenger und differenzierter als bisher zu ahnden und damit erzieherisch und richtungweisend auf den Turnstil einzuwirken.

Umstritten ist nach wie vor der Pferdsprung. Die meisten Vorstellungen gehen auf eine Reform oder Ausklammerung dieser Disziplin hinaus. Wer Für eine Beibehaltung in der jetzigen Austragungsart plädiert, muß jedoch erkennen, daß eine so schleppende Abwicklung, wie sie zeitweise in Warschau einmal mehr deutlich zutage trat, sich nicht zuletzt auch gegenüber dem Zuschauer kaum mehr vertreten läßt. Warum noch zwei Versuche? Am Pauschenpferd ist doch die Gefahr des Mißlingens weit größer, und selbst bei den Pflichtübungen gibt es inzwischen keine Wiederholungen mehr. Der Durchführungsmodus sollte deshalb dahingehend geändert werden, daß in der Pflicht, in der Kür und im Finale jeweils nur noch ein Versuch gestattet ist und in jedem Fall eine grundsätzlich andere Springform gewählt werden muß. Eine solche Regelung würde zumindest eine erhebliche Zeitersparnis bringen. In diesem Zusammenhang sollte auch geprüft werden, ob nicht auf Griffzonen verzichtet werden kann. Entscheidendes Kriterium bei der Bewertung eines Pferdsprunges ist doch die Ausführung und hier insbesondere Höhe und Weite des Fluges.

Unübersehbar war in Warschau die starke Tendenz des Kampfgerichts, die Wahl schwieriger Sprünge dadurch zu fördern, daß unsichere Landungen in diesen Fällen weit weniger hart bestraft wurden als bei Sprüngen ohne Drehungen um die Längsachse. Es muß allerdings erwähnt werden, daß die Kampfrichter im Kürsechskampf bei der Verfolgung dieser Linie nicht immer eine glückliche Hand hatten.

Die Richtlinien des Code de pointage (Artikel 30) über die Zusammenstellung der Kürübung am Barren haben immer noch einen ausgesprochen konservativen Charakter, weil sie dem betonten Schwungturnen nicht genügend entgegenkommen. Warum muß die Übung mindestens einen Kraftteil enthalten? Auf Kraftteile könnte am Barren durchaus verzichtet werden. Selbst wenn sich die ITB-Techniker nicht zu einer solchen Lösung durchringen wollen, könnte die Entwicklung schon dadurch positiv beeinflußt werden, wenn die Vorschrift besagen würde, daß eine Kraftteil geturnt werden kann.
Darüber hinaus sollten Felgen, Stützkehren und Luftrollen auch dann C-Qualität besitzen, wenn sie genau auf den Punkt in den Handstand gestellt werden. Eine Haltedauer von zwei Sekunden ist keineswegs erforderlich, weil Übungsfluß und Rhythmus dadurch nicht gefördert werden. Wird die Barrenkür der Zukunft eine reine Schwungübung ohne ausgesprochenen Halt sein?

Erfreulich ist die Entwicklung an den Ringen, wo Felgen in den Handstand mit gestreckten Armen auch für viele Turner des Mittelfeldes schon selbstverständlich sind. Von Lisitzki abgesehen, überwog bei allen Finalisten das schwunghafte Turnen gegenüber Kraft- und Halteteilen Unerreicht blieb Woronin. Großartig haben die besten Europäer wie Cerar, Woronin sowie Wilhelm und Mikolai Kubica am Pauschenpferd geturnt. Hier gibt es eigentlich nichts auszusetzen, denn Warschau brachte das wohl bislang beste Seitpferdfinale überhaupt, und das sagt bereits alles.

Eine Enttäuschung war dagegen das Finale am Reck. Wer die Übungen Lisitzkis und Klimenkos in Zeitlupe gesehen hat, ist über die Vielzahl der Haltungsfehler geradezu erschrocken. Cerar kam – auch unter Berücksichtigung der Artikel 32 und 33 Ziffer 15 der Wertungsvorschriften — gegenüber den beiden Sowjetturnern zweifellos zu schlecht weg. Die Wertung war im allgemeinen zufriedenstellend. Selbstverständlich gab es hier und da etwas auszusetzen. Auf jeden Fall hat sich die 1964 von Arthur Gander in die Wege geleitete Kampfrichterschulung erneut als eine lohnenswerte Sache erwiesen.

Alfred Klingberg

Olympische Turnkunst, September 1969

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