1961: Soviet Gymnasts Tour the United States

In 1971, the Soviet gymnasts did a quick tour of the United States, competing at Penn State and Temple University.

10 years prior, in 1961, the Soviet gymnasts did a much more extensive trip. The women competed at West Chester, while the men competed at Penn State. On top of that, there were exhibitions across the country, including in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Urbana, Illinois; and a performance during an NBA game at Madison Square Garden.

The trip was arranged by the Amateur Athletic Union with the sanction of the U.S. State Department.

Below, you’ll find both U.S. footage, as well as Soviet and U.S. news articles. It’s interesting to see how the gymnasts were depicted in different publications and mediums during the Cold War.

Note: In the next post, we’ll look at the U.S. gymnasts’ trip to the Soviet Union for a competition in August 1961.


Quick Links: Results | Soviet News Coverage | U.S. News Coverage | Video


Women’s Results
West Chester, PA

USSR: 153.199
USA: 149.967

1. Muratova
2. Latynina
3. Lyukhina
4. Nikolaeva
Source: Spordileht, Jan. 16, 1961; NY Times, Jan. 13, 1961
Note: Astakhova had to withdraw due to an elbow injury.

Men’s Results
State College, PA

USSR: 285.85
USA: 281.45

1. Shakhlin
2. Azaryan
3. Miligulo
4. Titov
5. Kerdemelidi
6. Orlofsky
7. Grossfeld
8. Vega
9. Beckner
10. O’Quinn
11. Tonry
12. Portnoi

Soviet News Coverage


NEW YORK. (TASS). In the small university town of West Chester (Pennsylvania) on the evening of January 11, the first performance of Soviet gymnasts took place. The women’s teams of the USSR and the USA met. Unfortunately, Soviet gymnast Polina Astakhova had injured her elbow during a training session in New York and was unable to compete. Therefore, it was decided to count scores for four athletes.

The competition began with vaulting. Larisa Latynina took first place in this event, demonstrating excellent technique. Her score is 9.7 points. Margarita Nikolaeva is in second place with 9.667. Sofia Muratova is in third with 9.633.

The American Doris Fuchs performed well on the uneven bars with a very difficult program, ending her exercise with a difficult dismount. She received 9.667 and took first place. Latynina and Tamara Lyukhina shared second and third place with a score of 9.6.

The superiority of the Soviet athletes was especially evident in the balance beam exercises. First and second places were shared by Lyukhina and Muratova. Their score was 9.7. Nikolaeva takes third place.

Latynina and American Muriel Grossfeld were the strongest in the floor exercise. Both scored 9.7 points each. Muratova was third.

First place overall went to Soviet champion Muratova with a score of 38.499, second place to Olympic champion Latynina with 38.460, and third place to Lyukhina with 38.3. Next comes Nikolaeva with 37.933 and Grossfeld. In the team event, the Soviet gymnasts scored 153.199. The American gymnasts scored 149.967.

The audience applauded the success of the Soviet gymnasts. Valentin Muratov, the coach of the Soviet team, told TASS that the U.S. team has strong athletes who are excellent at complex exercises. But they still lack technique and grace.

The Soviet men’s team performed a demonstration performance in between. The audience enthusiastically greeted Boris Shakhlin, Yuri Titov, Albert Azaryan, and Valery Kerdemelidi. Today, all the Soviet gymnasts will hold a demonstration performance in West Chester. Tomorrow, the men’s team will compete against the U.S. team.

Sovetsky Sport, January 13, 1961


НЬЮ-ЙОРК. (ТАСС). В небольшом университетском — городке Уэст-Честере (штат Пенсильвания) вечером 11 января состоялось первое выступление. советских гимнастов. Встречались сборные женские команды СССР и США. К сожалению, на тренировке в Нью-Йорке повредила локоть советская гимнастка Полина Астахова и не смогла принять участие в соревнованиях. В связи с этим было решено вести зачет по четырем спортсменкам.
Соревнования начались опорными прыжками. Продемонстрировав отличную технику, первое место в этом виде заняла Лариса Латынина. Ее результат — 9,7 балла. На втором месте — Маргарита Николаева — 9,667, на третьем — Софья Муратова — 9,633.
В упражнениях на брусьях с очень сложной программой хорошо выступила американка Дорис Фукс, завершившая упражнение сложным соскоком. Она получила 9,667, заняв первое место. Латынина и Тамара Люхина поделили второе и третье места с результатом 9,6 балла.
Превосходство советских спортсменок особенно ярко проявилось в упражнениях на бревне. Первое и второе места здесь поделили Люхина и Муратова. Их оценка — 9,7. На третьем месте Николаева.
Латынина и американка Мариэль Гроссфельд оказались сильнейшими в вольных упражнениях. Обе набрали по 9,7 балла. Третья — Муратова.
Первое место в общем зачете досталось чемпионке СССР Муратовой, набравшей 38,499, второе — чемпионке олимпийских игр Латыниной — 38,460 и третье Люхиной — 38,3. Далее идут Николаева — 37,933 и Гросефельд. В командном зачете советские гимнастки набрали 153,199 балла. Результат американских спортсменок — 149,967.
Зрители отмечали успехи советских гимнасток бурными аплодисментами. Тренер советской команды Валентин Муратов в беседе с корреспондентом ТАСС сказал, что в команде США есть очень сильные спортсменки, которые очень хорошо выполняют сложные упражнения. Однако им не хватает еще техники и изящества.
В перерывах между соревнованиями с показательными упражнениями выступила советская мужская команда. Зрители восторженно приветствовали Бориса Шахлина, Юрия Титова, Альберта Азаряна, Валерия Кердемелиди. Сегодня все советские гимнасты проведут в Уэст-Честере показательные выступления. Завтра мужская команда будет соревноваться со сборной США.

Americans greeted the Soviet gymnasts in Russian

“Welcome!” — at State College.

THESE BIG words written in Russian could be seen on many walls of State College on the day the Soviet gymnasts performed in town. The people and students of this small campus in the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains welcomed visitors from the Soviet Union very warmly.

Everywhere our gymnasts appeared, they were surrounded by students, professors, and autograph hunters. Soviet athletes answered a variety of questions concerning the life of Soviet youth, shared their experiences with American athletes, and talked about plans for the future. The local student newspaper published an editorial in Russian on the front page.

The college gymnasium, which seats 6,000 spectators, could not accommodate even half of those who wished to attend the USSR-USA gymnastics competition. Responding to persistent requests from all those who were not among the “lucky ones,” the local television studio organized a two-hour broadcast from the college gymnasium.

The coach of the American team, who conducted the selection of candidates for the U.S. team, said before the start of the meeting that his pupils have a chance to defeat formidable opponents.

However, this did not happen. The competition between the men’s teams of the USSR and the USA, which took place in an interesting sporting struggle, once again demonstrated the high skill of the Soviet athletes. Boris Shakhlin, who won first place on pommel horse, high bar, and parallel bars, was brilliantly successful. He also won first place in the all-around.

A. Azaryan showed an exceptionally high skill level, which, for his rings routine, was awarded the highest score of the day – 9.9 points. The judges gave third place to a young Belarusian athlete N. Miligulo.

V. Portnoi performed selflessly. Despite a cold, he achieved first place on vault and showed a good result on floor exercise.

Misfortune befell V. Kerdemelidi. He started his exercises on parallel bars exceptionally well, but then he fell off the apparatus and received a low score, which dropped him to 5th place in the overall individual classification.

Of American gymnasts, Armando Vega, a former student of Pennsylvania State, drew attention with his first place on floor exercise and a good performance on the rings.

In the overall team competition, the Soviet gymnasts received 285.85 points, the U.S. – 281.45.

During the break between the competitions of the men’s teams, Soviet gymnasts performed an exhibition performance with great success.

The college students who greeted the team of the Soviet Union with enthusiastic applause presented memorable gifts to the Soviet athletes at the end of the competition. The representative of the student organization of the college warmly, in Russian, congratulated the winners and emphasized that the expansion of contacts between Soviet and American youth is significant. “Peace and Friendship!” With these words, he ended his speech.

Raising their hands, intertwined in a friendly shake, the athletes of both teams left the hall to a storm of applause from the audience.

Sovetsky Sport, January 17, 1961

Американцы по-русски приветствуют гимнастов СССР

„Добро пожаловать!“ —в Стейт-Колледже

ЭТИ КРУПНО написанные по-русски слова можно было увидеть на многих стенах Стейт-Колледжа в тот день, когда в городе выступали советские гимнасты. Жители и студенты этого маленького университетского городка, расположенного у подножия Аллеганских гор, очень радушно встретили гостей из Советского Союза.
Всюду, где появлялись наши гимнасты, их окружали студенты, профессора, охотники за автографами. Советские спортсмены отвечали на самые различные вопросы, касающиеся жизни советской молодежи, делились с американскими спортсменами опытом, рассказывали о планах на будущее. Местная студенческая газета опубликовала на первой странице редакционную статью на русском языке.
Спортивный зал колледжа, рассчитанный на 6 тысяч зрителей, не смог вместить и половины желающих попасть на соревнования гимнастов СССР и США. Отвечая на настойчивые просьбы всех тех, кто не попал в число «счастливчиков», местная телевизионная студия организовала двухчасовую передачу из спортивного зала колледжа.
Тренер американской команды, проводивший отбор кандидатов в сборную США, до начала встречи заявил, что его питомцы имеют шансы победить грозных соперников.
Однако этого не случилось. Соревнования между мужскими командами СССР и США, которые прошли в интересной спортивной борьбе, вновь продемонстрировали высокое мастерство советских спортсменов. Блестящего успеха добился Борис Шахлин, завоевавший первенство в упражнениях на коне, перекладине и брусьях. Он же занял первое место в многоборье.
Исключительно высокое мастерство показал А. Азарян, который за упражнение на кольцах был удостоен высшей оценки дня, — 9,9 балла, Третье место судьи дали молодому белорусскому спортсмену Н. Милигуло.
Самоотверженно выступил В. Портной. Несмотря на простуду, он добился первого места в опорных прыжках и показал хороший результат в вольных упражнениях.
Неудача постигла В. Кердемелиди. Он, исключительно хорошо начал упражнения на брусьях, однако, затем упал со снаряда и получил низкую оценку, отбросившую его на 5-е место в общем личном зачете.
Из американских гимнастов обратил на себя внимание бывший студент Пенсильванского колледжа Армандо Вега, который занял первое место в вольных упражнениях и непло хо выступил на кольцах.
В общем командном зачете советские гимнасты получили 285,85 балла, американские — 281,45.
В перерыве между состязаниями мужских команд се большим успехом выступили с показательными упражнениями советские гимнастки.
Студенты колледжа, восторженными аплодисментами встретившие команду Советского Союза, по окончании соревнований преподнесли советским спортсменам памятные подарки. Представитель студенческой организации колледжа тепло, на русском языке поздравил победителей и подчеркнул, что расширение контактов между советской и американской молодежью очень важно. «Мир и дружба!» — этими словами закончил он свое выступление.
Высоко подняв сплетенные в дружеском пожатии руки, спортсмены обеих команд под бурную овацию зрителей покинули зал.

Stunning Skills

Izvestia, Jan. 12, 1961

On the evening of January 12 in the city of West Chester, the first competitions of Soviet gymnasts took place. The performance of the athletes from the USSR turned into a celebration for all residents of West Chester. A spacious college hall, where the meet was held, was overcrowded. The program was broadcast by all local TV stations.

Even before the judges announced the results, it was clear to everyone that the women’s team from the USSR had left the Americans far behind. In spite of the fact that one of the best gymnasts Polina Astakhova, who had injured her arm, didn’t participate in the competitions, and our five athletes were competing against six American athletes, they gained 153.199 points, while the Americans – 149.967. Sofia Muratova took first place, Larisa Latynina was second, and Tamara Lyukhina was third.   

Newspapers posted dozens of photographs of the Soviet women gymnasts, and each of them dedicated a few pages to give a detailed description of the event. “Performance of courage and beauty, agility and grace” — this was how the newspapers evaluated the first performance of our masters.

American correspondents covering the event are experiencing difficulties in finding epithets to describe the “stunning artistic skills of the Soviet gymnasts.” “The group of the gymnasts from the Soviet Union can be compared with a ballet troupe, which utterly consists of stars,” writes the New [York] Times.

During the Olympics in Rome, the television company “Columbia Broadcasting System” [i.e. CBS] broadcast two big programs nationwide, which were dedicated to Soviet gymnasts’ performances in the Italian capital. These programs, watched by tens of millions of Americans, made a sensational impression. Amazing skills of B. Shakhlin and floor exercise routines performed by S. Muratova and P. Astakhova won the hearts of Americans aged 7 to 70.

-—We have to learn from Russians! – this slogan immediately appeared on the pages of American sport magazines after the XVII Olympic Games. That was why Soviet women’s and men’s national teams of gymnasts were invited.


own correspondent of “Izvestia”.

NEW YORK CITY, January 12 (telegraphed)

Вечером 12 января в городе Уэст Честер состоялись первые состязания советских гимнастов. Выступление спортсменов СССР вылилось в праздник для всех жителей Уэст Честера. Вместительный зал колледжа, где проходила встреча, был переполнен. Программа транслировалась всеми местными телевизионными станциями.
Еще до того, как судьи объявили результаты, всем было ясно, что женская команда СССР оставила американок далеко позади. Несмотря на то, что одна из лучших гимнасток Полина Астахова, повредившая руку, не принимала участия в состязаниях и пять наших спортсменок выступали против шести американских, они набрали 153,199 балла, а американки— 149,967. Первое место заняла Софья Муратова, второе — Лариса Латынина, третье — Тамара Люхина.
Газеты публикуют десятки фотографий советских гимнасток, и каждая отводит несколько страниц детальному описанию встречи. «Спектакль мужества и красоты, ловкости и изящества» — так оценивают газеты первое выступление наших мастеров.
Американские корреспонденты, освещающие соревнование, испытывают затруднения, подыскивая эпитеты при описании «великолепного артистического мастерства советских гимнастов». «Группу гимнастов из Советского Союза можно сравнить с балетной труппой, которая вся состоит из звезд»,— пишет «Нью тайме».
Во время римской олимпиады телевизионная компания «Коламбия бродкастинг систем» передала по всей стране две большие программы, посвященные выступлению советских гимнастов в итальянской столице. Эти передачи, которые смотрели десятки миллионов американцев, произвели сенсационное впечатление. Поразительное мастерство Б. Шахлина, вольные упражнения, исполненные С. Муратовой и П. Астаховой, покорили сердца американцев в возрасте от 7 до 70 лет.
— У русских надо учиться!— этот лозунг сразу же появился на страницах американских спортивных журналов и газет по окончании XVII Олимпийских игр. Для этого и приглашены из СССР сборные команды гимнасток и гимнастов СССР.
соб. корр. «Известий».
НЬЮ-ЙОРК, 12 января. (По телегр.).

U.S. News Coverage

Soviets Training in New York City

Soviet Gymnasts Drill Here with Ballet Grace

Howard M. Tuckner, New York Times, Jan. 10, 1961

Gymnasium of West Side Y.M.C.A. Gets New Look as 12 Russians Prepare for Two-Week Tour of East

The gymnasium of the West Side Y.M.C.A., generally a drab sweatshop for overweight men and underweight boys, became a ballet stage yesterday under the terpsichorean artistry of Soviet gymnasts.

For two hours the six men and six women members of the Soviet Union’s Olympic team brought a grace and elegance in their gymnastics never seen before on the canvas mats, leather horses, and horizontal bars of the West Sixty-third Street athletic chambers.

This was the squad’s first practice session here for its two weeks of exhibitions and competition in this country. Tomorrow and Thursday the Soviet women will compete against American women at West Chester (Pa.) State Teachers College.

On Jan. 14 the Soviet men compete against members of the United States Olympic team at Pennsylvania State University. On Jan. 24 the Russians will end their tour with an exhibition at Madison Square Garden.

When the Moiseyev Dance Company from Moscow performed here in 1958, some critics went to great pains to describe the gymnastic artistry of the ballet troupe. If that was valid criticism, then it would be equally valid to note that the Soviet gymnasts resemble a stellar ballet troupe.

To Tamara Syrtseva’s dainty piano accompaniment of “Waltz of the Flowers,” the Russians glided across the mats with slow and measured movements as if time did not exist. Then, with the same arresting control, they vaulted over horses to tunes from Arensky and gyrated around the horizontal bar to “Volare,” an Italian song the Russians picked up in Rome last summer.

So lyrical were their movements that on the running track overlooking the gymnasium fat-conscious men in sweat suits stopped huffing and puffing to watch the workout. One who apparently felt he was ill dressed for the occasion wrapped himself in a blue polka-dot robe and left the track to watch the performance from an orchestra seat.

“They’re lovely to watch,” he said, “so strong, yet so delicate. Especially the women. I didn’t think Russian girls would look so feminine.”

For the fifty-odd spectators the most popular gymnast appeared to be Polina Astakhova, a tall, slim blonde with a bird’s-nest coiffure and a haughty expression. Miss Astakhova, who won the gold medal in the Olympic parallel bar competition, is one of the three un-married women on the squad.

She is 24 years old and is studying physical culture at the Stalino Pedagogical Institute in Moscow. She has performed in many countries. She said she liked Paris best because “everything is a beautiful pattern and nothing jars it.”

Throughout the workout the squad was solemn, But during rest periods it was a jolly and relaxed group.

“A few of us smoke,” said Vladimir Portnoi. “Vodka? Well, of course, that happens every now and then.”

After the workout, the gymnasts mingled with onlookers, posed happily for photographers and talked Russian into the microphone for television interviewers.

Then they left for lunch and sight-seeing—a graceful bunch of muscular tovarischi.

Promotion of the Women’s Competition

Reds Invade W. Chester

Delaware County Daily Times, Jan. 6, 1961

WEST CHESTER — The cold war will be forgotten next Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and things will warm up for a time as gymnastic teams from the United States and Russia work up a sweat in friendly competition and a series of interesting exhibitions.

Seven women and seven men from the Soviet Union will be here to do some plain and fancy calisthenics in the town where the U.S. women’s 1960 Olympic gymnastic team trained.

The Russians are paying their own way, a course American diplomats say they don’t always follow. All proceeds from the two evenings will go toward the expense of sending American gymnasts for a tour of Russia this fall.

Wednesday night at the West Chester State College Field House, Russian and American women’s teams will compete, and the Soviet men will put on an exhibition of their gymnastic skill.

Thursday evening both the men’s and women’s teams from the U.S.S.R. will present exhibitions with no competition scheduled that night.

The West Chester appearance is the only one of eight American showings that will last more than one night. The Russian tour will also take them to Penn State, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Champaign and Chicago in Illinois, New Haven and Madison Square Garden.

They are to arrive in this country Monday and depart Jan. 25.

The Russian Olympic gymnastic team won a small raft of gold medals at the Rome games. The contingent coming here includes 28-year-old Boris Shakhlin of Kiev, recognized as the world champion gymnast. He won four gold medals in Rome, along with one of silver and one of bronze. He is [a] four-time Russian champ.

Gymnastics is a major sport in most European countries while it recieves little play and has relatively few participants in the U.S. Residents of West Chester, however, have a keen interest in the sport due particularly to the fact that this was the training ground for American women gymnasts going to Rome.

Tickets for either or both evenings are now available at the college.

Promotion of the Men’s Competition

Russians Arrive with a Smile, Handshake for All

Francis Fanucci, Centre Daily Times, Jan. 14, 1961

Russia’s Olympic gymnastics team arrived in State College yesterday with a smile and a handshake for everyone.

Any thoughts of world crises, the cold war, or political differences vanished as the affable Soviets dismounted their chartered bus and ambled through a host of well wishers into the Nittany Lion Inn.

This was the second stop on a four-state, two-week tour, arranged by the Amateur Athletic Union with the sanction of the U.S. State Department. And it is expected to be the tour’s highpoint.

Tonight in Recreation Hall, before 6,000 of the most capricious, erudite, and sophisticated gymnastic fans in the nation—and countless others on television—the Russians and Americans will meet in competitive action.

The battle has attracted nation-wide attention, since it is the first time the two teams have met in competition in this country. In the summer Olympic Games Russia finished second and the United States fifth.

Despite the heated battle expected, the members of both teams mingled freely with each other, discussing various event routines and renewing friendships made at the Olympics.

“We (Russia and the U.S.) have no differences,” one member of the U.S. team said. “It’s our governments that do. We have no cold wars in sports.”

The Russians made the statement honest with their actions throughout the afternoon and early evening.

Arriving two hours late (they stopped for lunch and to hear some rock ‘n roll music at a nearby restaurant), the teams, male and female, scurried from bus to hotel rooms to Rec Hall, where the women had a two-hour workout.

Along the way, they swarmed over an American compact car, examining each of its features, posed for photographers, and greeted everyone in the vicinity. Interpreters had to maintain a brisk pace as questions from reporters, spectators, and members of the U.S. team flowed freely.

At Rec Hall the Russians surveyed the surroundings, checked the equipment (using slight kicks of their feet in much the same manner as an American kicks a tire while shopping for a new car) and discussed tonight’s events.

The men’s team wandered about while the women went through various routines and exercises.

“We don’t usually practice the day before a meet,” one Russian said through an interpreter, “although we do practice about two or three hours a day, five days a week for maybe 49 or 50 weeks of the year.”

The extraordinary training period has made the Soviets the team they are. Muscles abound. Event routines are reportedly flawless. Men like 31-year-old Albert Azaryan are still champions despite the age factor.

Azaryan, holder of two Olympic championships on the rings and the showman of the team, says, “I will continue in the sport until I can’t perform anymore. I do what I love, and until I can’t do it anymore, I’ll be a gymnast.”

Gymnastics is not, however, the only thing that occupies the Russian mind.

Yuri Titov, 23-year-old world vaulting champion, said he was intrigued with New York City and especially Times Square.

“I like the big signs, advertisements, and shop windows, but I think maybe there’s too much stone. There should be some more green.”

Titov said he liked almost all kinds of American food but added that he stayed away from Italian food and described why with a circular sweep of the hand near the stomach.

Following the workout (the women practiced routines, exercised, ran around the track, and exercised again) the teams were feted amidst Russian music at Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

The teams also were subjected to rock ‘n roll songs, following the dinner, something they appear to enjoy. Hand clapping and foot tapping typify not only the American young man these days, but also the Russian.

The teams are scheduled to leave State College tomorrow morning for Black Moshannon Airport, where they will board a charter airliner for their flight to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Soviet Gymnasts at Madison Square Garden

Cheers, Whistles and Awed Silence Greet Grace and Skill of Athletes

Larry Morris, New York Times, Jan. 25, 1961

Bouncy belles from the Soviet Union skipped through intricate and graceful routines at Madison Square Garden last night.

Their exhibition was a bonus attraction on a bill headed by a National Basketball Assoication [sic] game between the New York Knickerbockers and the Boston Celtics.

Scattered among the vociferous huzzas for five Olympic damsels were familiar wolf whistles. For these women were a far cry from the stereotype of the female athlete. They were more like chorus girls.

They were abetted by six males who also had won their Olympic gold spurs. While the men performed several feats on the sidehorse and the flying rings calculated to astonish any observer, it was the women who drew the most applause.

Polina Astakhova, the 1959 women’s all-round gymnastic champion of the Soviet Union, evoked rave responses with a series of balancing maneuvers on the horizontal beam.

‘An Optional Exercise’

The petite blonde supported herself first on two hands, then one hand and finally on one well-pointed toe while striking difficult poses that would have ruined the sacroiliac of an untrained imitator.

Among the men, Boris Shakhlin was easily the most incredible performer. His opening routine on the even parallel bars was described by the Garden announcer as “an optional exercise,” but from the looks of it, only the world and Olympic all-round champion would exercise the option.

At one point, with his face pointing toward the floor, he supported himself on his hands about a foot above the bars while spinning counterclockwise. Both legs remained straight with the toes pointed throughout the spinning, which lasted about thirty seconds.

Next, Larisa Latynina hushed the crowd with a high-flying routine of the uneven parallel bars that appeared dangerous, if not suicidal. Many of her peregrinations over, under, and between the bars were done with both hands at her sides. She maintained her balance by pressing her shoulders or the small of the back against first one bar and then the other.

Any slight miscalculation would have meant at least a bump under Miss Latynina’s well-groomed red tresses. The team’s coach, Alexander Mischakov, stood close by with both hands ready to make a saving catch. As things turned out, he was not needed.

Coach Mischakov credited consistent hard work for the brilliance of his troupe. Through an interpreter, he said the athletes practiced two hours daily, skipping every third day, all year long.

He added that the training routine included work on all apparatus—a departure from the old system of concentrating on only two pieces of equipment in a given workout.

Further, Coach Mischakov said, the gymnasts now combine as many as fifteen elements in an exercise on each piece of apparatus.

Mischakov Is Master

“Before the [1952] Olympics in Helsinki, the standard training technique called for shorter exercises that were designed to develop either strength, suppleness, or grace. Now we stress longer combinations to improve all three abilities at the same time,” he explained.

Mischakov, ranked as a master gymnast, said all the members of the Soviet team also had attained that status.

“The categories go from be-ginner, advanced, good, and master,” he said. “It depends on the individual, of course, but it usually takes from six to fifteen years for an athlete to get his master title. His promotions depend on his ability to meet definite standards in competition.”

In the final exercise on the Garden program, Albert Azaryan hoisted himself through a series of slow-motion turns and dislocations on the rings, He has been doing that sort of thing since he was knee high to a sidehorse. Even so, his muscular arms showed the tension and the strain. In fact, if he had one muscle less, he probably couldn’t have done it.

Last night’s exhibition wound up the Russians’ brief American tour.


Speaker 1: [00:00:00] Penn State’s Jay Werner, a Philadelphia 20-year-old who’s a junior isn’t in this just for fun. For him, it’s serious business hurtling through the air in an 80-degree arc and straining every muscle to maintain poised balance between those rings. The form’s flawless. The execution’s brilliant. Now, we can’t all be as truly skilled as Jay Werner or Ed Cole, or Stan Tarshis. Most of us could never be All-American gymnasts [00:00:30] any more than we’d be All-American football players or basketball stars, or track and field athletes, but all Americans should be and could be physically fit.
Speaker 2: Russia’s Olympic gymnastic team on tour through the United States makes its only competitive appearance at Penn State University, [00:01:00] meeting an American national team. In semi-slow motion, Fred Orlofsky of North Bergen, New Jersey performing on the side horse.
Speaker 2: The winner of the event is Russia’s all-around gymnastic star, Boris Shakhlin.
Speaker 2: Armando Vega of Los Angeles puts on an impressive show on the still rings, one of the most taxing of the gymnastic routines. [00:01:30]
Speaker 2: Again, the laurels are won by the Russians. The winner on the still rings is Albert Azaryan. Europeans who spent a great deal of time exercising indoors during the rigorous winters excel in such acrobatics.
Speaker 2: [00:02:00] He gets an impressive score. Russian women are not in competition, but give exhibitions. This is Larisa Latynina on the balance beam. John Beckner of Los Angeles vaulting over the long horse. Again, a Russian wins, Vladimir Portnoi. 
Speaker 2: Ms. Latynina, probably the world’s most accomplished woman gymnast [00:02:30] performs on the uneven parallel bars.
Speaker 2: Abie Grossfeld of New York, former Illinois star, presents a credible routine on the parallel bars. He and his wife were both members of the American Olympic squad.
Speaker 2: Here’s Azaryan going through his exercises on the parallel bars. [00:03:00] Although the Americans proved themselves excellent performers, they are not equal to the Russians, and Azaryan who’s excelled in this event by Shakhlin.
Speaker 2: Gar [Garland] O’Quinn, formerly of West Point on the horizontal bar. This is probably the most spectacular of all the gymnastic events.
[applause] [00:03:30]
Speaker 2: Shakhlin, who gave an astounding performance in the Olympics, winning four gold medals, makes this his third victory of the match. He is the outstanding competitor on the Russian squad and has proved the best in any competition.
Speaker 2: At the end of the meet, the Russians overflowing with friendship, present jackets to the Americans.
[00:04:10] [END OF AUDIO]
Speaker 1: [00:00:00] Touring the United States Russia’s Olympic gymnasts take on an American national team at Penn State University. Armando Vega of Los Angeles shows the crowded University Park a thing or two about strength and control on the still rings.
Russia’s Albert Azaryan takes his turn at this demanding test [00:00:30] and makes it look easy. Long winters put the stress on indoor exercise. Gymnastics are a Russian specialty.
John Beckner of Los Angeles vaults over the long horse. Vladimir Portnoi of the Soviet team shown in slow motion is the winner.

The Soviet all-around gymnastics star Boris Shakhlin won two gold medals [00:01:00] at Rome last year and tied for two others. He caps his team’s victory with this performance on the single bar. The well-trained Russian visitors give America’s gymnast something to aim for.
[00:01:20] [END OF AUDIO]

Note: Look at the size of those landing mats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.