1972 MAG Olympics

1972: The Men’s All-Around Final at the Munich Olympics

Before the Olympics started, Kato Sawao was the favorite for the all-around title.

The big favorite for the all-around victory is Kato Sawao, who can probably only beat himself by always daring to exaggerate to the utmost. That would be the hour for world champion Kenmotsu, the “eternal” runner-up, Nakayama, or the latest discovery, Kasamatsu, but maybe also for the 20-year-old Russian Nikolai Andrianov or the North Korean Li Song Sob, about whom wonderful things are said.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Number 393, 24 August 1972

Großer Favorit auf den Zwölfkampfsieg ist Sawao Kato, der wohl nur sich selber schlagen kann, indem er stets das Aeußerste wagend einmal übertreibt. Das wäre dann die Stunde für Weltmeister Kenmotsu, den «ewigen» Zweiten Nakayama oder die neueste Entdeckung, Kasamatsu, vielleicht aber auch für den 20jährigen Russen Nikolai Andrianow oder den Nordkoreaner Ri Son Sep, von denen man sich Wunderdinge erzählt.

After compulsories in Munich, Endo Yukio, the Japanese head coach, thought that four gymnasts had a chance to win:

“We’ll still win all the gold medals. However, my tip for the all-around victory has become a bit more comprehensive: Kenmotsu, Kato, Kasamatsu or Andrianov.” He no longer named arguably the best specialist of past world championships and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City — Nakayama — although the latter did well on his feared equipment, the pommel horse, with a score of 9.30.

Deutsches Sportecho, August 29, 1972

„Wir gewinnen alle acht Goldmedaillen!” Nach der Absolvierung der Pflicht glaubten viele, daß Endo sich etwas bremsen würde. Nichts dessen. „Wir gewinnen trotzdem alle Goldmedaillen. Mein Tip für den Mehrkampfsieg ist allerdings etwas umfassender geworden: Kenmotsu, Kato, Kasamatsu oder Andrianow.“ Er nannte nicht mehr den. wohl besten Gerätespezialisten vergangener Welttitelkämpfe und der Olympischen Spiele von 1968 in Mexiko-Stadt, nicht Nakayama, obwohl dieser an seinem Angstgerät, dem Seitpferd, mit 9,30 gut über die Runden kam.

In the end, Kato was able to defend his all-around title from Mexico City, but it wasn’t an easy victory. The all-around final on August 30, 1972, was a nail-biter. Having qualified first, Kato wouldn’t regain the lead until the final routine. (Reminder: Kato missed the 1970 World Championships due to an Achilles tear.)

Let’s dive in…

Kato Sawao, Copyright: imago/Sven Simon Sawao Kato (Japan)

Quick Links: Results | Rotation-by-Rotation Commentary | Final Interviews | Videos | Appendix: The Secrets of Japanese Gymnastics

Reminder: The 1972 Olympics were the first time there was an all-around final. 


1. Kato
Qual: 157.5509.609.609.609.509.759.7057.75
2. Kenomtsu
Qual: 257.3759.659.609.509.409.659.7557.55
3. Nakayama
Qual: 457.1259.659.409.709.259.659.6057.25
4. Andrianov
Qual: 556.9009.458.809.509.609.559.6056.50
5. Kasamatsu
Qual: 357.2009.609.559.509.359.709.7557.45
6T. Köste
Qual: 656.6259.559.309.559.559.509.5557.00
6T. Klimenko
Qual: 856.3258.959.559.309.309.609.2555.95
8. Tsukahara
Qual: 1156.1259.458.709.608.809.509.9055.95
9. Thüne
Qual: 1256.0759.309.009.359.409.359.6556.05
10. Breheme
Qual: 1056.2259.459.359.409.459.359.5556.55
11. Okamura
Qual: 1455.6009.408.959.458.809.409.4555.45
12. Voronin
Qual: 756.4759.459.459.659.209.459.5056.70
13. Li
Song Sob
Qual: 17T55.3759.409.059.509.259.309.5056.00
14. Gienger
Qual: 2454.8759.107.859.259.209.559.6554.60
15. Szajna
Qual: 1555.5759.459.009.458.909.359.6055.75
16. Schukin
Qual: 2155.1009.409.059.309.209.159.5055.60
17. Koltz
Qual: 1655.5259.409.059.309.209.359.4555.75
18. Maleev
Qual: 1955.3509.359.
19. Molnár
Qual: 2055.2759.209.409.
20T. Mikaelian
Qual: 956.2509.459.259.359.159.359.656.15
20T. Kubica
Qual: 2354.9509.309.559.309.309.309.4056.15
22. Kubica
Qual: 17T55.3759.509.209.509.309.359.5056.35
23. Rohner
Qual: 2854.7009.108.759.059.509.309.3555.05
24. Mößinger
Qual: 2554.8509.358.859.408.859.209.3555.00
25. Spies
Qual: 31T54.3509.008.759.208.859.409.4054.60
26. Rychly
Qual: 2254.9759.359.059.209.309.209.4555.55
27. Kim
Qual: 3354.1259.359.
28. Päke
Qual: 2954.6759.
29. Magyar
Qual: 31T54.3509.059.058.759.359.059.3054.55
30. Kim
Song Yu
Qual: 2654.7259.409.109.359.209.309.4055.75
31. Hug
Qual: 2754.7258.859.409.059.159.309.3055.05
32T. Grecu
Qual: 3454.0509.059.109.309.059.058.8054.35
32T. Brodnik
Qual: 3753.9008.909.
34. Mihăiuc
Qual: 3054.6509.309.059.209.359.159.2555.30
35. Nissinen
Qual: 3653.9259.
36. Fejtek
Qual: 3553.9758.709.
Note: Each gymnast’s qualifying rank is listed under his name. His qualifying average from compulsories and optionals (competitions 1a and 1b) are listed under his country. His final all-around score is listed in bold print in the third row. It is the sum of his qualifying average and his point total from the all-around finals.

Here’s Dick Criley’s assessment of the scores:

The biggest jump in position was made by E. Gienger (W. Ger.) from 24th to 14th and the biggest drop was by Russia’s Mikhaelian from 9th to 20th. The 1.00 score gain registered by Japan’s Okamura reflected the fact that he was no longer the first man up for a team score. The +0.80 scores awarded Andrianov and Klimenko seem to indicate a political influence, especially since the top 3 Japanese were penalized in comparison with their previous AA optional total. Only Voronin and Mikhaelian could not be scored up because of their own breaks.

Gymnast, February 1973

On the topic of West Germany, they were generally happy with their performance during the all-around finals:

Still, Gienger, Mößinger, and Spies made it, and they played a good part in the final: Eberhard Gienger convincingly made his way into the world class, moving up from 24th to 14th place; Walter Mößinger maintained a respectable 24th place, Günter Spies improved to 25th place. For comparison: in Mexico the best DTB gymnast — with the exception of the injured Willi Jaschek, who probably would have finished among the top 25 — was in 45th place, in Ljubljana 1970 in 44th place. This comparison only makes it clear how successfully work has been done at the Federal Training Center over the past two years.

Jahrbuch der Turnkunst, 1973

Immerhin schafften es Gienger, Mößinger und Spies, und sie spielten im Finale eine gute Rolle: Eberhard Gienger turnte sich auf überzeugende Weise in die Weltklasse, indem er sich von Rang 24 auf den 14. Rang steigerte; Walter Mößinger behauptete einen achtbaren 24. Rang, Günter Spies verbesserte sich auf den 25. Rang. Zum Vergleich: in Mexiko lag der beste DTB-Turner — den verletzten Willi Jaschek einmal ausgenommen, der wahrscheinlich unter die 25 Ersten gekommen wäre — an 45. Stelle, in Laibach 1970 an 44. Stelle. An diesem Vergleich erst wird sichtbar, wie erfolgreich am Bundesleistungszentrum in den letzten zwei Jahren gearbeitet worden ist.

Reminder: Willi Jaschek tore his Achilles during the competition and continued competing.

Rotation-by-Rotation Commentary

Note: Originally, I had planned to embed individual videos throughout this section. Unfortunately, many of the men’s all-around final videos have been removed from YouTube in recent months. You can still find compilations in the video section below.

On a separate but related note, much of Gymnast‘s coverage was focused on reporting rotation-by-rotation scores and made few mentions of the routines.

The standings before the competition started.

1. KatoJPN57.550FX
2. KenmotsuJPN57.375PB
3. KasamatsuJPN57.200HB
4. NakayamaJPN57.125SR
5. AndrianovURS56.900PH
6. KösteGDR56.625PH
7. VoroninURS56.475HB
8. KlimenkoURS56.325PH

Rotation 1

In the floor exercise, Tsukahara performed a double twist to back flip-flop as part of his mount but looked a bit careless in other parts of the exercise; he d ismounted with a double twist as well.

On the rings Nakayama paced the first set of gymnasts with a 9.55 but was pushed a little by West Germany’s Walter Moessinger who threw a single salto so high it looked as if he might be planning a double, but the judges thought otherwise and awarded a 9.40.

Gymnast, January 1973

The Leaders after the first rotation:

1. Kenmotsu, JPN, 66.825, Parallel Bars
2. Kato, JPN, 66.800, Floor
3. Kasamatsu, JPN, 66.700, High Bar
4. Nakayama, JPN, 66.675, Still Rings
5. Andrianov, URS, 66.450, Pommel Horse

Rotation 2

There were several double-pike dismounts.

Andrianov threw a high and solid double flyaway on the rings for a 9.50 while Eberhard Gienger (W. Ger.) used a piked double flyaway for a 9.45. A 9.55 was registered on HB by Poland’s Andrzej Szajna who used a high piked double flyaway.

The crowd was disappointed with the 9.5 awarded Kasamatsu on the floor. He mounted with a circus tuck double back, but the rest of his tumbling was high, clean, and extended. He dismounted with an excellent example of the full twisting salto.

Gymnast, January 1973

Note: A “circus tuck double back” means that he landed and then rolled backwards out of it.

Kenmotsu on High Bar:

The leaders after the second rotation

1. Kenmotsu, JPN, 76.425, High Bar
2T. Kato, JPN, 76.200, Pommel Horse
2T. Kasamatsu, JPN, 76.200, Floor
4. Nakayama, JPN, 76.125, Vault
5. Andrianov, URS, 75.950, Still Rings

Rotation 3

There were score reporting problems.

Szajna ‘s HB score was originally flashed as 9.6 but a computer check later showed a 9.55 for his award.

Gymnast, January 1973

The leaders after the third rotation:

1. Kenmotsu, JPN, 85.875, Floor
2. Kato, JPN, 85.800, Still Rings
3. Nakayama, JPN, 85.775, Parallel Bars
4. Kasamatsu, JPN, 85.750, Pommel Horse
5. Andrianov, URS, 85.700, Vault

If you’re trying to keep track of the changes in rankings…

QualRotation 1Rotation 2Rotation 3
1. Kato
2. Kenomtsu
3. Nakayama
5. Andrianov
5. Kasamatsu

Rotation 4

Tsukahara managed only a 9.4 for his RO, piked back vault because of a giant step backwards for balance. Little Okamura of Japan hit the handspring 1 ½ vault [i.e. a handspring front salto] for a 9.6 score. With good height, flight, and solid landing, it was evident that he was happy with this vault as his face broke out into a big grin.

Gymnast, January 1973

The leaders after the fourth rotation:

1. Kenmotsu, JPN, 95.475, Pommel Horse
2. Nakayama, JPN, 95.425, High Bar
3. Kato, JPN, 95.300, Vault
4. Kasamatsu, JPN, 95.250, Still Rings
5. Andrianov, URS, 95.100, Parallel Bars

Rotation 5

Tsukahara dismounted parallel bars and landed among the judges.

Tsukahara suffered a bad break on his PB dismount: overturning his handstand, snapdown, back somersault, he rolled off the platform into the judge’s pit. He came up smiling and with a 9.2 score. 

Gymnast, January 1973

Kato had a strong routine on parallel bars, which was met with several computer problems.

Kato again impressed the crowd and judges (to the tune of 9.6) with his back toss to handstand, snap-down with straddle cut to peach. His score was initially flashed as 9.75, then changed to 9.85 and ultimately recorded by the computer as a 9.6 in a series of score changes that never seemed to be explained.

Gymnast, January 1973

Kato on Parallel Bars:

The leaders after the fifth rotation:

1. Kenmotsu, JPN, 104.975, Still Rings
2. Nakayama, JPN, 104.925, Floor
3. Kato, JPN, 104.900, Parallel Bars
4. Andrianov, JPN, 104.750, High Bar
5. Kasamatsu, JPN, 104.500, Vault

Rotation 6

The podium came down to the last routine.

Up to this point, World Champion Kenmotsu had led Nakayama and Kato. With a score of 9.75 on horizontal bar, Kato, who had started with the best preliminary score, was still able to surpass his two teammates. Kenmotsu finished with a 9.60 on vault and Nakayama 9.40 on pommel horse. Andrianov missed his chances for a medal by stepping out of bounds on floor when he couldn’t stand a double somersault securely.

Thuner Tagblatt, Volume 96, Number 204, 31 August 1972

Bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt hatte Weltmeister Kenmotsu vor Nakayama und Kato geführt. Mit 9,75 am Reck vermochte Kato, der mit der besten Vornote gestartet war, seine beiden Teamkameraden aber noch zu übertreffen. Kenmotsu erzielte zum Abschluss 9,60 im Pferdsprung und Nakayama 9,40 am Pauschenpferd. Andrianow vergab seine Medaillenchancen durch Uebertreten in der Freiübung, als er einen doppelten Salto nicht sicher zu stehen vermochte. 

The crowd disapproved of Andrianov’s score.

(Incidentally, the 9.45 awarded Andrianov met with crowd disapproval despite the necessary deductions for stepping out of the area when he overturned his double back mount.)

Gymnast, January 1973

The Soviet press blamed Andrianov’s error on an excess of emotions.

And Nikolai had a chance for an all-around medal, but a bronze one. And he was let down by excess of emotions — why else would he, for whom floor exercise is a favorite kind of program, make a grave mistake here, flying over the edge of the mat.

Nedelia, August 28, 1972
И у Николая был шанс на медаль абсо­лютного первенства, правда, бронзовую. И его подвел избыток эмоций—иначе почему бы он, для которого вольные упражнения—любимый вид программы, тут допустил грубую ошибку, вылетев за край ковра.

Had he not stepped out of bounds, Andrianov may have found himself on the podium.

Today, Nikolai, when performing a double somersault on the floor, again stepped over the edge of the mat and lost at least 0.2 points. And that’s exactly what he lacked for the bronze medal.

Sovetsky Sport, no. 205, 1972

Но и сегодня Николай, выполняя двойное сальто в вольных, заступил за край ковра и потерял на этом уж не меньше 0,2. А ведь как раз этого ему и не хватило до бронзовой медали.

Tsukahara once again had the highest score — a 9.85 — on high bar.

Note: He had a 9.90 during the optionals (1b).

Tsukahara from Japan was again awarded the highest score with a score of 9.85 on high bar. However, this gymnast missed his chances on parallel bars, where he even fell off the podium after a fall. 

Thuner Tagblatt, Volume 96, Number 204, 31 August 1972

Am höchsten honoriert wurde erneut der Japaner Tsukahara mit 9,85 am Reck. Seine Chancen hatte dieser Turner aber am Barren vergeben, wo er nach einem Sturz sogar vom Podium fiel.

Nakayama on Pommel Horse:

The Final Top 5

1. Kato, JPN, 114.650, High Bar
2. Kenmotsu, JPN, 114.575, Vault
3. Nakayama, JPN, 114.325, Pommel Horse
4. Andrianov, URS, 114.200, Floor
5. Kasamatsu, JPN, 113.700, Parallel Bars

Nakayama’s thoughts at the end:

“The most important thing for us was to win the team competition. We put everything else on the back burner. The fact that we also won three individual medals makes us twice as happy, of course.”

Deutsches Sportecho, Sept. 1, 1972

„Für uns war es das wichtigste, den Mannschaftskampf zu gewinnen. Alles andere stellten wir hintenan. Daß dabei zusätzlich noch drei Einzel-Medaillen herausgesprungen sind, freut uns natürlich doppelt.“

And Kato’s comments:

The Japanese squad, which had already entered Wednesday evening’s final with the highest preliminary scores, performed their extraordinarily difficult routines very safely and very confidently – unimpressed by the fact that the point gaps between them were becoming quite narrow and that everyone still had their golden chance. Kato Sawao: “We didn’t do the math at all. Since we had some difficulties until the third piece of equipment, until the vault, which the spectators probably did not even notice, we had to concentrate completely on the competition. And then it went well…”

Deutsches Sportecho, Sept. 1, 1972

Die japanische Riege, die schon mit den höchsten Vorwerten in das Finale des Mittwochabends gegangen war, turnte ihr außerordentlich schwieriges Pensum sehr sicher und sehr souverän herunter — unbeeindruckt von der Tatsache, daß die Punktabstände zwischen ihnen recht knapp wurden und daß jeder noch seine goldene Chance hatte. Sawao Kato: „Wir haben überhaupt nicht mitgerechnet. Da wir bis zum dritten Gerät, bis zum Pferdsprung, einige Schwierigkeiten hatten, die die Zuschauer wahrscheinlich gar nicht wahrgenommen haben dürften, mußten wir uns völlig auf den ‘Wettkampf konzentrieren. Und dann lief es ja auch…”

And Kenmotsu’s:

And Kenmotsu Eizo, the silver medalist, added: “Now it’s all over, and we are very satisfied. Of course, I would have liked to win, but after all, with my 24 years, I am still young. My last word is not yet spoken.”

Deutsches Sportecho, Sept. 1, 1972

„Nun ist ja alles vorbei, und wir sind sehr zufrieden. Natürlich hätte ich gern gewonnen, aber mit meinen 24 Jahren bin ich schließlich noch jung. Mein letztes Wort ist noch nicht gesprochen.“

There were those who thought that the final was anti-climactic, especially compared to the women’s final.

Everything remained the same… Those who, impressed by the highly dramatic women’s all-around competition in the afternoon, had hoped for a similarly exciting confrontation in the men’s all-around, saw themselves deceived: The Japanese trio Kato Sawao, Kenmotsu Eizo, and Akinori Nakayama, from the first second of the gymnastics competitions, wielded the medal scepter unchallenged on the throne of favorites. 57.20 final points for Kenmotsu and Nakayama, 57.10 for Kato — with this they were only surpassed by Nikolai Andrianov (USSR), who, however, could not make up for his “hang” on the compulsory pommel horse (8.80 points).

Evidence of the balance of the world’s top class, evidence also that even the smallest slip-up in gymnastics competitions of our days is inevitably punished with elimination from the circle of medal winners.

Deutsches Sportecho, Sept. 1, 1972

Es blieb alles beim alten… Wer sich, beeindruckt durch die hochdramatische Achtkampf-Entscheidung der Damen am Nachmittag, Hoffnungen auf eine ähnlich spannende Auseinandersetzung im Mehrkampf der Herren gemacht hatte, sah sich getäuscht: Das japanische Trio Sawao Kato, Eizo Kenmotsu und Akinori Nakayama, ohnehin von der ersten Sekunde der Turn-Wettkämpfe auf dem Favoritenthron, schwang unangefochten die Medaillen-Zepter. 57,20 Finalpunkte für Kenmotsu und Nakayama, 57,10 für Kato — damit wurden sie nur von Nikolai Andrianow (UdSSR) übertroffen, der allerdings damit seinen „Hänger“ in der Pflicht am Seitpferd (8,80 Punkte) nicht mehr ausgleichen konnte.
Ein Beweis für die Ausgeglichenheit der Weltspitzenklasse, ein Beweis auch dafür, daß auch der kleinste Patzer bei Turnwettbewerben unserer Tage unweigerlich mit dem Ausscheiden aus dem Kreis der Medaillengewinner bestraft wird.

There were those who were disappointed by Kato’s win.

What can be learned from this individual fight for the Olympic title? For a long time, as with every major world confrontation, we hoped that the most beautiful gymnast, the one who in my eyes represents elegance, Nakayama, would finally win a victory, once again he was overtaken by his compatriots who had in their program much more virtuosity, risk.

Arthur Magakian, Technical Director, France, Revue EPS, Nov/Dec. 1972

Que peut-on dégager de cette lutte individuelle pour le titre olympique ? Pendant longtemps , comme à chaque grande confrontation mondiale, on a espéré que le plus beau gymnaste , celui qui à mes yeux, représente l’élégance, Nakayama, allait enfin remporter une victoire, encore une fois il fut dépassé par ses compatriote s qui avaient dans leur programme beaucoup plus de virtuosité, de risque.

And there were those who had criticisms of the format for the all-around final.

1. Competition No. 2 [i.e. the all-around final] is only valid if the required content is increased significantly in difficulty.

2. Finals: As in athletics and swimming, qualifying scores should no longer count for finals. They qualify, that’s all!

We must remove the “negative suspense” which has been introduced into all the finals since 1968, because the calculations are established beforehand, we are waiting for the fall of the favorite, it is materially impossible for the one who is 2/10 to catch up through no fault of his opponent. All this is far from the surpassing expected in the final. The top 6 totals would qualify and each gymnast would have the same chance of being an Olympic or World Champion. Starting from scratch we could ask for even more “content in difficulty” (this assessment is, of course, only my own).

Arthur Magakian, Technical Director, France, Revue EPS, Nov/Dec. 1972

1. Le concours n° 2 n’est valable que si le contenu exigé est augmenté sensiblement en difficulté.

2. Finales : Comm e en athlétisme et en natation, les notes qualificatives ne doivent plus compter pour les finales. Elles qualifient, c’est tout !

Il faut supprimer le « suspense négatif » qui s’est introduit dans toutes les finales depuis 1968 , car les calculs sont préalablement établis, on attend la chute du favori, il est matériellement impossible à celui qui est à 2/10 de rattraper ce retard sans faute de son adversaire. Tout ceci est loin du surpassement que l’on attend en finale. Les 6 meilleurs totaux seraient qualifiés et chaque gymnaste aurait la même chance d’être champion olympique ou mondial . En repartant à zéro nous pourrions demander encore plus de « contenu en difficulté » (cette appréciation n’engage, bien entendu, que moi-même).

But for the Japanese, Kato’s win was historic.

Here’s what was written in Japan’s Official Report:

Kato stumbled on the first floor, and for a while, it was a close call, but he gradually got better, and in the last bar, he scored 9.75, achieving the feat of consecutive victory, following the Mexico Olympics. I had hoped for a gold medal from among the Japanese athletes, but the fierce competition in the second half of the Games made me nervous. However, the fact that the Japanese gymnasts swept the gold, silver, and bronze medals, and held off Andrianov’s bid for the bronze, clearly showed the strength of Japan’s gymnastics. Kato’s victory is a milestone in the history of gymnastics, as he overcame a separated lumbar vertebrae, a torn Achilles tendon, and pain in his shoulder before the Games to win two consecutive gold medals.

Japan’s Official Report on the 1972 Munich Olympic Games

最初の床で加藤がつまずき一時は危うかったが次第に調子を上げ、 最後の鉄棒で9.75を取って, メキシコ・オリンピックに続いて連続優勝の偉業を達成した。 金メダルは何んとか日本選手の中からと思ってはいたが後半の激戦で緊張の連続であった。 しかし結果的には、金、銀、銅メダルを独占し,アンドレアノフの喰い込みをおさえたことは, 体操日本の強さをはっきりと示したものであろう。 加藤の優勝は,腰椎分離, アキレス腱切断の苦しい体験をし、大会前の肩の痛みを克服しての2連勝は, 栄光の歴史の中でもひときわ輝く, 金字塔である。

Note: The “I” in this piece is Takemoto Masao, the director, or Endo Yukio, the team coach. Both of their names are listed at the end of the report.


Note: The chronology in this report is not correct. It implies that Kato ended on parallel bars, but he ended on high bar.


Moderator: But first, let’s watch the most successful gymnast of the Federal Republic of Germany Eberhard Gienger performing his floor routine. Ebse Gienger already managed to gain the sympathy of the Munich audience in the team all-around competition, in which the German gymnasts took a brilliant fifth place.

[pause 00:00:15]



Moderator: Gienger received 9.20 points for this routine. He performed even better on the other gymnastics equipment and finished in 14th place. Instead of a duel between the USSR and Japan at the top, the whole competition developed into a Japanese championship. Here Akinori Nakayama during the routine on the side horse.

[pause 00:01:24]


Moderator: For this and his other almost flawless routines, Nakayama is rewarded with the bronze medal. In front of him there are only compatriots, because the duel between Kenmotsu Eizo, whom we see here on the high bar, and Kato Sawao, who is just behind him, evolves between 1st and 2nd place.

[pause 00:01:51]


Moderator: 9.6 for Kenmotsu on high bar. Kato, the Olympic champion from Mexico must now counter on parallel bars, score a 9.6 as well, then he is the Olympic champion in the all-around.

[pause 00:02:15]


Moderator: It’s enough for Kato. The judges give him the required 9.6. He is once again Olympic champion with a narrow lead over Kenmotsu. Bronze, as already mentioned, goes to Nakayama. Heavily beaten, the great gymnasts from the USSR.


Moderator: Zunächst aber beobachten wir den erfolgreichsten Turner der Bundesrepublik Eberhard Gienger bei seiner Bodenübung. Schon im Mannschaftsmehrkampf, bei dem die bundesdeutschen Turner einen glänzenden fünften Platz belegten, gewann Ebse Gienger die Sympathien des Münchener Publikums.
[pause 00:00:15]
Moderator: Für diese Übung erhält Gienger 9,20 Punkte. An den anderen Geräten schneidet er noch besser ab und wird zum Schluss 14ter. An der Spitze kam es nämlich nicht mehr zum Zweikampf UDSSR gegen Japan, sondern im Verlauf des Wettkampfes entwickelte sich das Ganze zu einer japanischen Meisterschaft. Hier Akinori Nakayama bei der Übung am Seitpferd.
[pause 00:01:24]
Moderator: Für diese und seine anderen fast fehlerfreien Übungen, wird Nakayama mit der Bronze-Medaille belohnt. Vor ihm platzieren sich nur Landsleute, denn zwischen Platz 1 und 2 entwickelt sich das Duell zwischen Eizo Kenmotsu, den wir hier im Reck sehen und Sawao Kato, der knapp hinter ihm liegt.
[pause 00:01:51]
Moderator: 9,6 für Kenmotsu am Reck. Kato, der Olympiasieger von Mexiko muss jetzt am Barren kontern, ebenfalls eine 9,6 Turnen, dann ist er Olympiasieger im Mehrkampf.
[pause 00:02:15]
Moderator: Es reicht für Kato. Die Punktrichter geben ihm die erforderliche 9,6. Er ist erneut Olympiasieger mit knappem Vorsprung vor Kenmotsu. Bronze, wie gesagt, gewinnt Nakayama. Heftig geschlagen, die großen Turner aus der UDSSR.

Appendix: The Secrets of Japanese Gymnasts

The Romanian newspaper Sportul ran a brief interview with Kato Sawao. Here’s what he said were the secrets of Japanese gymnastics.


Night after night, for almost a week, more than 12,000 spectators in the stands at Sporthalle applauded the gymnasts’ skills. The names of the Soviet gymnasts Olga Korbut and Ludmila Tourischeva became extremely popular here in Munich and on television – in many countries of the world, their performances were considered to be true art. Even their mere appearance led to applause, and the Japanese gymnasts were also rated at the same level, as they were also considered to be great acrobats. Their virtuosity was, of course, also appreciated by the Romanian viewers, so we will not insist on their performances. But, we shall talk to KATO SAWAO — who received 9.80 for his optional parallel bars routine — to tell us… the secrets of Japanese gymnasts’ mastery. 

“In 1932, at the Los Angeles Olympics, when we, the Japanese, first appeared in the world arena, the exercises we presented were regarded with a certain indifference. We didn’t know much more than lunges, handstands… However, during the last decade, our progress has been obvious. We’ve done our research, learned from the best European gymnasts and coaches, and then perhaps our skill, diligence, and sheer workload in training have helped us to keep improving.” 

— Anyway, what are these secrets? 

— Very few, apart from the two daily workouts that seem normal to us. What you may not know, we do extra warm-up gymnastics at 7 am before breakfast, each session lasting about an hour. Then, training every day. And one more thing. Scientists and researchers have found that the Japanese have a special vocation for acrobatics. This is because they have great skill and exceptional receptiveness to learning exercises of the highest degree of difficulty. They also state that the ideal height of a gymnast is 1.72 m, with a weight between 66 and 68 kg. It seems that we, the Japanese, meet these requirements very well…


P.S. Has Sawao Kato revealed all the secrets of Japanese acrobatic training?

Sportul, Sept. 4, 1972


Seară de seară, timp de aproape săptămînă, peste 12 000 de spectatri aflați în tribune de la Sporthalle au aplaudat frenetic măiestria gimnastelor și a gimnaștilor. Numele sportivelor sovietice Olga, Korbut și Ludmila Turisceva au devenit extreme populare aici, la München, și prin intermediul televiziunii — în numeroase țări ale lumii, evoluțiile lor inel apreciate ca o veritabilă artă.umai simpla lor apariție în fața Taratelor stîrnea ropote de aplauze, a același nivel au fost cotați și mnaștii japonezi, ei fiind socotiți revorați acrobați. Virtuozitatea lor fost, desigur, apreciată și de telesectatorii români, așa încît nu vom ai insista asupra evoluțiilor proiu-zise, ci ii vom da cuvîntul lui SAWAO KATO — care a primit 9.80 exerciții libere la paralele — pentru a ne divulga… secretele măiestriei gimnaștilor japonezi. 

„In 1932, la Olimpiada de la Los Angeles, cînd noi japonezii am apărut pentru prima oară în arena mondială, exercițiile pe care le-am prezentat au fost privite cu o oarecare indiferență. Nu știam mai mult decit fandărî, ridicări în mîini… In ultimul deceniu, progresele noastre au fost însă evidente. Ne-am documentat, am învățat de la cei mai buni gimrtaști și antrenori europeni și, apoi, poate că îndemînarea, sîrguința și volumul enorm de muncă depus la antrenamente ne-au ajutat să ne perfecționăm necontenit”. 

— Totuși, care sunt așăzisele secrete? 

— Foarte puține In afara antrenamentelor de două ori pe zi care nouă ni se par normale. Ceea ce poate că dv. nu știți, noi facem suplimentar gimnastică de înviorare la 7 dimineața, înainte de micul dejun, fiecare ședință de acest fel durind aproximativ o oră. Apoi, zilnic antrenamente. Şi mai este ceva. Oamenii de știință, cercetătorii, au constatat că japonezii au o înclinație specială pentru acrobație. Aceasta pentru că ei au o mare îndemînare și o excepțională receptivitate la învățarea unor exerciții cu cel mai înalt grad de dificultate. Ei mai afirmă că înălțimea ideală a unui gimnast este de 1,72 m, iar greutate intre 66 și 68 kg. Or, se pare, noi japonezii îndeplinim de minune aceste condiții…


P.S. Să fi dezvăluit, oare, Sawao Kato toate secretele pregătirii acrobaților japonezi?… 

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