1965 MAG Universiade

1965: The Men’s Competition at the University Games

At the 1963 University Games, Japan swept the podiums, winning the team title in addition to the gold, silver, and bronze in the all-around. Two years later, in Budapest, Japan was not able to dominate the field. 

Japan handily won the team title in 1965, and Nakayama Akinori took gold in the all-around. (He would go on to win 10 Olympic medals and 12 World Championship medals.) Miroslav Cerar, the 1961 and 1963 European all-around champion and reigning Olympic champion on pommel horse, won the silver in the all-around. Makoto Sakamoto, a Japanese-American gymnast who swept all seven titles at the 1965 AAU Championships, won bronze.

Nakayama (top right); Cerar (bottom right). Source: Képes Sport, August 24, 1965



1. Nakayama
2. Cerar
3. Sakamoto
4. Hirai
5. Konishi
6. Yonehara
Japan’s Official Report on the 1965 Universiade


1. Japan174.35
2. Soviet Union170.45
3. Yugoslavia168.05
4. Hungary164.95
5. Cuba161.45
6. Bulgaria160.05
Japan’s Official Report on the 1965 Universiade

Competition Commentary

The Soviets struggled on floor.

The competition was divided into three groups, and in the first group, Bulgarian, Norwegian, Austrian, and Swedish competitors entered, and the competition began, but lack of performance and failure were obvious. In the second group, Hungary, U.S.A., Cuba, and the Soviet Union, the performances were not as good as we had expected, although we could feel the power of the local competitors. The Soviet Union seemed to have entered the competition without much coordination, but as expected of them, they were well put together and were an opponent that one could not let one’s guard down. On the other hand, Sakamoto of the U.S.A., who had the advantage of being a second-generation Japanese, was ranked higher with unexpectedly high scores, and it seemed that he might be a more formidable opponent than the Soviets. The Soviets made many mistakes on floor exercise and were so uncoordinated that we thought we could win the competition.

Japan’s Official Report

試合は3つのグループに分けられ、第1グループには、 ブルガリア、ノルウェー,オーストリア, スェーデンの各選手が入場し試合が始まったが、演技不足, 失敗が目立つ。その中でノルウェーのストロハングが光っていた。 第2グループは,ハンガリー, アメリカ, キューバ, ソ連と地元が出て来たせいか迫力を感じさせられたが、演技は期待したほどのことはなかった。 ソ連は余り調整がつかないままに試合になったようであるが, さすがよくまとめて油断ができない相手である。 また一方、アメリカのサカモトは邦人2世の利点があってグーンとクローズアップされ、思わぬ得点を重ねて上位にランクされ、これはソ連よりも手強い相手になるかも知れぬと思えた。ソ連勢は床においてミスが目立ち、これなら大丈夫勝てると思うほど未調整が目立った。

The Japanese gymnasts sailed through rings with the exception of Konishi who touched his hands down on his dismount.

The bell rings to start the match, and Yonehara jumps onto the rings. You could see his small body moving up and down rhythmically. The final double back was done beautifully, and all his teammates were cheered up with a sense of accomplishment. Hirai, who followed, also performed a perfect routine as planned, and was riding a wave of good form. Konishi’s good vibes had the crowd roaring, and then an “ah” was heard from the crowd because he landed on his hands. It was 9.30. I looked at Nakayama’s face and saw that he was thinking carefully. In such a quiet atmosphere that the audience could hear even the sound of the pin dropping, Nakayama performed dynamically, and his last twist dismount floated well and landed perfectly. The spectators applauded him tremendously. Nakayama returned to the bench with a smile and finished the first event.

Japan’s Official Report

試合開始のゴングがなり,米原がつり輪にとびつく。小さな体がリズミカルに上下しているのがわかる。 最後の2回宙返りも見事に決め選手一同ヤッタという感じで元気づいたようである。 続く平井も予定どおりピシャリと技を決め調子の波に乗りかかった。 小西の切れ味の良い振動が観衆をうならせていると “あー”という声が観衆から聞こえた。 あわててみると着地で手をついてしまった。 9.30である。 これはいかんと思って中山の顔をみると慎重に考えているようである。 満場針の音一つも聞きとれるほどの静けさの中でダイナミックに技を決め、 最後の1回ひねり下りも良く浮いて着地もピシャリ。 満場からは物すごい拍手。 中山もニコニコしてベンチに戻り第1種目を終えた。

Cerar, the main challenger for the all-around title, had a good floor routine.

On floor exercise, Cerar fully stretched his well-developed body and performed well in well-finished handstands and other moves with great skill. The routine was the same as in Tokyo, but more impressive. The score of 9.70 was so high that the crowd applauded and called for an encore. The Japanese floor exercise began. Yonehara’s body bounced around on the mat and landed perfectly.

Japan’s Official Report

床ではツェラール、 恵まれた体を充分に伸ばし良く釣りのきいた倒立等うまみ充分である。 東京大会と技は変わっていないが,より立派なでき栄えである。 9.70と得点がでて観衆が拍手と呼び声でアンコールするほどだった。 日本の床が始まった。 米原の体が小気味よくマットの上をはね回わり着地もピシャリ。

Arthur Gander, the head judge, had to watch Cerar’s pommel horse routine before Hirai was allowed to compete on floor.

Next, Hirai performed a backward somersault with one and a half twists, making the crowd go wild, and he got the highest score of 9.80. Before he performed, when the chief judge gave him a gesture that he had to wait for a moment to see the pommel horse performance by Cerar, Hirai said, “He told me to do it after seeing the pommel horse routine,” as if he was a third person, and his attitude was more relaxed than tense.

Japan’s Official Report

続いて平井,後方宙返り 1回半ひねりに観衆を湧か軽快な動きには驚嘆の声まで聞かれ 9.80と最高点である。彼が演技をする前に主審があん馬のツェラールをみるので, 一寸待てというゼスチュアを示した時,平井は「あん馬をみてからやれだって」 と第三者のように、さらりと受けた態度には緊迫感よりも余裕が感じられたほどである。

Arthur Gander congratulated the Japanese team on their exceptional performance on pommel horse. At the halfway point, Nakayama was leading the all-around, and the Japanese team had a healthy lead over the Soviet team.

The last event of the first half was pommel horse. The Japanese team had been improving all their skills, so they pushed hard all at once, and their bold performance paid off: even the chief judge, Mr. Gander, clapped his hands and congratulated them for their good performance.

By now, we lead the Soviet Union by 1.6 points, and Nakayama also secured the top position, 0.15 ahead of Cerar.

前半最後のあん馬に入る。 とにかく全習能力をつけていたので一気に押しまくり、思い切っての演技が功を奏し、審判長のガンダー氏まで手を叩いて祝福してくれたほど良いできであった。

ここでソ連に 1.6点をリードし, 中山もツェラールに0.15 と差をつけて首位を確得した。

Arkaev fell on his high bar dismount, which took him out of the running for an all-around medal.

On the 22nd, morning exercises were held as scheduled. At this time, the tiredness and nervousness of the previous day were somewhat gone, and the participants seemed to be in a pleasant mood with laughter. The competition started with the second group, marking Arkaev of the Soviet Union and Sakamoto of the USA on vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar. Arkaev failed to land his backward somersault with one twist on high bar at the end, ending his hopes for a top individual finish. Sakamoto was steadily scoring points in the latter half of the events to take the top position.

22日は予定どおり朝の体操, この時は昨日の疲れと緊張も幾分かとれ, 笑いが起こる快い気分にみられた。競技は第2グループからで、ソ連のアルカエフとアメリカのサカモトをマークしながら跳馬, 平行棒, 鉄棒と演技が続く。 アルカエフは最後鉄棒で後方宙返り 1回ひねりで着地に失敗し個人の上位入賞の望みを絶たれた。サカモトは後半の種目も着実に点をとりトップに立った。

Nakayama scored much higher than Cerar on vault and secured his all-around victory.

Then it was time for Japan and the third group. Unlike the previous day, all the athletes performed with a lot of energy. On vault, the gap between Cerar and Nakayama was 0.25, which seemed to almost assure his individual win. Cerar also chased Nakayama desperately, but Nakayama was able to beat him with a perfect performance to win the competition.

そこで第3グループ日本の出場である。 前日と違って全員伸び伸びと演技した。 跳馬ではシェラールと中山の差は0.25と大体個人優勝を確実にしたようである。 ツェラールも必死に中山を追い上げたが,完璧のできばえで彼の追撃を退け優勝したのである。

Some thought Nakayama deserved a 10.0 on high bar.

Nakayama started with a Stalder circle and worked with breathtaking assurance all along. After this exercise, not only was there thick applause from the stands, but a chorus demanded a ten. Nakayamia received only 9.9. 

Népsport, August 23, 1965

Nakajama pedig Stalder-forgással kezdett, és végig lélegzetelállító biztonsággal dolgozott. Ezután a gyakorlat után nemcsak vastaps hallatszott a lelátóról, hanem kórus követelte a tíz pontot. Nakajamia ugyanis ,,mindössze” 9.9-et kapott. 

Japan was happy with their performance.

However, on horizontal bar, three performers made mistakes on their landings. As expected, the event just before the championship is decided was tense. We won both team and individual titles, and all the athletes placed in the top six, so the award ceremony was filled with joy. When the Japanese flag was raised after the Universiade flag and the Japanese flag was seen twice, once for the team and once for the individual all-around, everyone was at the height of their excitement, and a sense of relief that they had fulfilled their responsibilities flowed through their hearts.

しかし鉄棒では3人が着地にミスを出し, さすが優勝の決まる寸前の種目は固くなるものである。 団体,個人の両タイトルをとり, 6位までに全員入賞と喜びにつつまれながら表彰式になった。 ユニバーシアードの旗の後に日章旗が上がり、団体と個人の2回に日の丸をみたときは全員感激の絶頂で責任を果たした安緒感が流れた。

Some thought that Sakamoto (USA) was underscored.

The fight for individual first place was tantamount to the quality of the Olympics — said István Sárkány, the supervisor of our men’s gymnastics sport after the race. “The competition has brought the expected high standards, both individually and as a team. In my opinion, the American Sakamoto didn’t get all the points he deserved. 

Képes Sport, August 24, 1965

Olimpia színvonalával ért fel az egyéni első helyért folyó küzdelem — vélekedett a verseny után Sárkány István, férfi tornászsportunk szakfelügyelője. — A verseny különben a várt magas színvonalat hozta, egyéniben és csapatban egyaránt. Véleményem szerint az amerikai Sakamoto nem minden szeren kapta meg azt a pontszámot, amit feltétlenül megérdemelt volna.

But the U.S. delegation was happy with his finish.

I felt the scoring was a little high in some events but it was fair and consistant. I can’t underestimate the job that Makoto did though. His performances were practically flawless and even though he lacked the difficulty that Nakayama exhibited, he well deserved the honor of third place All-Around.

Bob Hall, Modern Gymnast, Sept./Oct. 1965

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