1973 Friendship Cup MAG WAG

1973: Comăneci Wins the All-Around at the Friendship Cup

In 1973, at the Friendship Cup, Europe started to acknowledge Comăneci’s greatness. Larisa Latynina, the head coach of the Soviet team, called her the “Romanian Korbut,” and the East German newspaper asked, “Did Gera see the Olympic gymnastics champion of Montreal?”

At this competition, Comăneci competed a Tsukahara on vault, resulting in cheers from the crowd and a gold medal on the apparatus. It was not the first Tsukahara done by a woman on vault. (Beate Gehrke had competed one at the Riga International in 1972.) But it was still extremely rare. (Both Tourischeva and Grigoraş would perform a Tsukahara a few months later at the 1973 European Championships.)

What follows are East German and Romanian accounts of the competition.


Women’s Team

1. URS187.00
2. GDR-1184.30
3. ROU183.05
4. GDR-2182.30
5. TCH180.95
6. HUN179.20
7. PRK176.50
8. POL175.00
9. BUL173.95
10. CUB163.65

Women’s All-Around

1. Comăneci
2. Kim
3T. Kolesnikova
3T. Grozdova
3T. Gerschau
6. Savina
7. Dronova
8T. Ungureanu
8T. Röhrich
8T. Kräker
8T. Löffler


1. Comăneci ROU19.35
2. KolesnikovaURS19.15
3T. DronovaURS18.95
3T. GerschauGDR18.95
3T. KräkerGDR18.95
6. KimURS18.80


1. Comăneci ROU19.30
2. KimURS18.95
3. GrozdovaURS18.90
4. UngureanuROU18.75
5T. RöhrichGDR18.70
5T. GerschauGDR18.70

Balance Beam

1. GrozdovaURS19.20
2. UngureanuROU18.95
3. Zo Yun ChiPRK18.95
4. KuzmenkoURS18.70
5. DronovaURS18.65
6. Pohludková


1. DronovaURS19.55
2. KimURS19.35
3. ComăneciROU19.25
4. KolesnikovaURS19.20
5. SavinaURS18.90
6. Zo Yun ChiPRK18.85

Competition Commentary

East German 

Romanian Korbut Mocked Gravity

Did Gera See the Olympic Gymnastics Champion of Montreal?

Sold out house in Gera Erwin Panndorf Sports Hall on three days of gymnastics last weekend. The tournament of friendship united the best talents from nine socialist countries. The people of Gera quickly found their favorite — the eleven-year-old Romanian Nadia Comăneci. She will only be 12 on November 12! Larisa Latynina, head coach of the Soviet gymnastics federation and nine-time (!) Olympic champion, said spontaneously when she saw this whisk from Gheorgiu Dej: “This is the Romanian Korbut. I’m not saying anything wrong, she can be very dangerous to our best in Montreal in 1976!”

Nadia did gymnastics so easily and so carefree, she combined in her exercises everything complicated that the two great winners of Munich, Karin Janz, and Olga Korbut, had to offer. And on vault and floor, she surpassed both of them. Unbelievable, at the age of eleven! On floor, she can do something (though only shown in training) that only one man (the Japanese Kenmotsu) has shown so far, a triple twist. On vault, she did a Tsukahara somersault over the horse, and the applause of the audience lasted longer than a minute.

Nadia started gymnastics at the age of six,* with Sonia Ioan, one of the greatest gymnasts in the fifties and sixties. Nadia, who is 1.42 m tall and weighs only 32 kg, mocked gravity in Gera and as a tournament winner succeeded famous predecessors, Natalia Kuchinskaya (USSR/1965), Karin Janz (GDR/1966), Ludmila Tourischeva (USSR/1968), Tamara Lazakovich (USSR/1969 and 1970) or Nina Dronova (USSR/1971). “In 1976 I want to participate in the Olympic Games, and I dream of a gold medal.” Nadia undoubtedly has what it takes.

[*Note: Comăneci’s first coach was Marcel Duncan. Husband and wife Maria and Gheorge Simionescu also helped lay the foundation for gymnastics in the area where Comăneci got her start.]

The boys’ individual winner was Bernd Jensch. Today he is trained at ASK Potsdam by our old master Günter Nachtigall. Bernd told us this little story: “When I went to high school in Frankfurt, everyone told me about Klaus Köste, who had also attended school here. I wanted to become like him.” Bernd is already considered one of the best vaulters in the world. He received 9.80 points for his handspring front in Gera. He can also perform this vault in pike position. None of the Japanese or Soviet gymnasts has shown this before.

[Note: In 1972, Andrianov was working on this vault.]

Bernd was at the head of a splendid GDR collective, which put seven gymnasts in the top ten. And he also had famous predecessors in this tournament. Mikhail Voronin (USSR) won in 1965 and became all-around world champion a year later, Nikolai Andrianov was successful in 1970 and was two-time European champion ten months later. Where does the path of Bernd and his comrades lead? Klaus Köste need not fear for his successors.

Neue Zeit, August 28, 1973

Rumänische Korbut spottete der Schwerkraft

Sah Gera die Turnolympiasiegerin von Montreal?

Aus verkauftes Haus in der Geraer Erwin-Panndorf-Sporthalle an drei Turntagen des vergangenen Wochenendes. Das Turnier der Freundschaft vereinte die besten Talente aus neun sozialistischen Landern. Die Geraer hatten sehr rasch ihren Publikumsliebling gefunden — die elfjährige Rumänin . Nadia Comaneci. Sie wird am 12. November erst 12! Larissa Latynina, Cheftrainenn des sowjetischen Turnverbandes und neunfache (!) Olympiasiegerin, meinte spontan, als sie diesen Quirl aus Gheorgiu Deij sah: „Das ist die rumänische Korbut. Ich sage nichts Verkehrtes, sie kann 1976 in Montreal unseren Besten sehr gefährlich werden!”

Nadia turnte so leicht so unbekümmert, sie vereinigte in ihren Übungen alles Komplizierte, was die beiden großen Siegerinnen von München, Karin Janz und Olga Korbut, anzubieten hatten. Und im Sprung und am Boden übertraf sie beide noch. Unglaublich, mit elf Jahren ! Am Boden kann sie etwas (allerdings nur im Training gezeigt), was nur ein Mann (der Japaner Kenmotsu) bisher zeigte, den dreifachen Schraubensalto. Im Sprung wirbelte sie einen Tsukahara-Salto über das Pferd, daß der Beifall des Publikums länger als eine Minute anhielt.

Mit sechs Jahren hat Nadia mit dem Turnen begonnen, bei Sonja Ioan, in den fünfziger und sechziger Jahren eine der weitbesten Turnerinnen. Die 1,42 m große und nur 32 kg schwere Nadia verspottete in Gera die Schwerkraft und trat als Turniersiegerin die Nachfolge berühmter Vorgängerinnen an, von Natalja Kutschinskaja (UdSSR/1965), Karin Janz (DDR/1966), Ludmilla Turischtschewa (UdSSR/1968), Tamara Lasakowitsch (UdSSR/1969 und 1970) oder Nina Dronowa (UdSSR/1971). „1976 will ich an den Olympischen Spielen teilnehmen, und ich träume von einer Goldmedaille.” Nadia hat ohne Zweifel das Zeug dazu.

Der Einzelsieger der Jungen hieß Bernd Jensch. Er wird heute im ASK Potsdam von unserem Altmeister Günter Nachtigall trainiert. Bernd erzählte uns diese kleine Geschichte: „Als ich an die Oberschule nach Frankfurt kam, erzählte alles von Klaus Koste, der hier auch einmal die Schulbank gedrückt hatte .So wie er wollte ich werden.” Bernd gilt schon heute als einer der besten Pferdspringer der Welt. Für seinen Überschlagsalto erhielt er in Gera 9,80 Punkte. Er kann diesen Sprung auch gebückt, mit angewinkelten, gestreckten Beinen ausführen. Niemand der japanischen oder sowjetischen Turner hat das bisher gezeigt.

Bernd stand an der Spitze eine« prächtigen DDR-Kollektivs, das sieben Turner unter die besten Zehn brachte. Und auch er hat berühmte Vorgänger bei diesem Turnier gehabt. Michail Woronin (UdSSR) gewann 1965 und wurde ein Jahr spater Mehrkampf-Weltmeister, Nikolai Andrianow war 1970 erfolgreich und zehn Monate später zweifacher Europameister. Wohin führt der Weg von Bernd und seinen Kameraden? Klaus Koste braucht um seine Nachfolger nicht bange zu sein.

Romanian Coverage

On the selection of the team and the new uniforms for the women.


Held behind closed doors, the selection contest that took place in the gymnasium of the “23 August” sports complex was a useful check before a tough exam that our gymnastics teams have to take this week in the annual “Friendship Cup” competition. The competition will be held in the city of Gera in the German Democratic Republic. Valuable young gymnasts from socialist countries will meet there.

There is no doubt that athletes who are already thinking about the ’76 Olympic medals will line up at the start of this event. And it is not surprising that among them are our young gymnasts who, based on their training and performance in the competitions they have taken part in, hope to climb ever higher up the ladder of mastery. Considering the growth and training of the new generation of gymnasts, the selection for the next competition, featuring the Friendship Cup, was made from among the most talented athletes of the High School for Physical Education in the municipality of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. The young gymnasts — whose average age is only 12 years old -— include Nadia Comăneci, Mariana Cojan[u], Teodora Ungureanu, Georgeta Gabor, Gabriela Sabadîș, Iuliana Marcu, and Liliana Brănișteanu. Although the pupils of Béla Karoly[i] know that they will have to face competition from well-trained gymnasts, such as those from the Soviet Union or the German Democratic Republic, they are determined to collect valuable points for our team. 

During the selection competition — a veritable dress rehearsal — we also witnessed a sui generis fashion parade, which was nothing more than a showcase for the new competition attire (white with purple trim) and tracksuits (specially made in a stylish cut with flared trousers). The new, highly difficult performances, with many elements included for the first time in the program, showed the good form of our young gymnasts.

The jury of the selection contest, without having an official character, determined the contestants, with exactingness, giving them the following scores: Nadia Comăneci — who demonstrated once again her talent and thorough training on all apparatus — 38.40; Georgeta Gabor 37.30; Teodora Ungureanu 36.60; Mariana Cojan[u] 36.35; Liliana Brănișteanu 36.25; Gabriela Sabadis 36.20; Iuliana Marcu 35.60. 

The men’s team is trying to polish, under the guidance of Gabriel Molea, a series of defects reported during the verification contests in the short time left until the days of the competition. Here is the team of young gymnasts: Sorin Cepoiu, Ion Kecskes, Cristian Ecoiu, Vaier Răspop, Marian Badea, Nicolae Mihai, and Kurt Szilier.

Sportul, August 22, 1973


Disputat cu „ușile închise“, concursul de selecție care a avut loc în sala de gimnastică a complexului sportic „23 August“, a constituit o utilă verificare înaintea unui examen greu pe care echipele noastre de gimnastică îl au de susținut săptămîna aceasta în tradiționala competiție „Cupa Prietenia”. în trecerea va avea loc în orașul Gera din Republica Democrată Germană Şi la ea și-au dat intilnire tineri gimnaști de valoare din țările socialiste. 

Fără îndoială că la startul acestei întreceri se vor alinia sportivi care de pe acum se gândesc la medaliile Olimpiadei 76. Şi nu pare a fi deloc surprinzător faptul că printre aceștia se numără și tinerele noastre gimnaste care, bazindu-se pe pregătirea și comportarea lor în concursurile au luat parte, speră să urce tot mai sus pe treptele măiestriei. Avîndu-se în vedere tocmai creșterea și formarea noii generații de gimnaste, selecția pentru apropiata întrecere, dotată cu Cupa Prietenia, s-a făcut din rîndul celor mai talentate sportive ale Liceului cu program de educație fizică din municipiul Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. Tinara garnitură de gimnaste — a cărei medie de vîrstă este de numai 12 ani — are în componență pe Nadia Comăneci, Mariana Cojan, Teodora Ungureanu, Georgeta Gabor, Gabriela Sabadîș, Iuliana Marcu și Liliana Brănișteanu. Cu toate că elevele profesorului Béla Karoly știu de pe acum că vor avea de înfruntat concurența unor gimnaste cu o bună pregătire, cum ar fi cele din Uniunea Sovietică sau R.D. Germană, ele sunt hotărîte să adune puncte prețioase pentru echipa noastră. 

Cu ocazia concursului de selecție — o veritabilă repetiție generală — am asistat și la o paradă a modei sui generis, care nu a fost altceva decit o probă a noilor costume de concurs (de culoare albă cu garnituri violet) și a treningurilor (executate speciial într-o croială elegantă cu pantaloni evazați). Noile execuții, de un înalt grad de dificultate, cu multe elemente incluse în premieră în program, ne-au arătat forma bună a tinerelor noastre gimnaste. 

Juriul concursului de selecție, fără să aibă un caracter oficial, a stabilit concurentelor, cu exigență, următorul punctaj : Nadia Comăneci — care a demonstrat și de data aceasta talentul și temeinica pregătire la toate aparatele — 38,40; Georgeta Gabor 37,30 ; Teodora Ungureanu 36,60; Mariana Cojan 36,35; Liliana Brănișteanu 36,25 ; Gabriela Sabadîș 36,20; Iuliana Marcu 35,60. 

Echipa masculină se străduiește ca în scurtul timp care a mai rămas pînă în zilele concursului, să finiseze, sub îndrumarea profesorului Gabriel Molea, o serie de defecțiuni semnalate cu prilejul concursurilor de verificare. Iată și formația tinerilor gimnaști: Sorin Cepoiu, Ion Kecskes, Cristian Ecoiu, Vaier Răspop, Marian Badea, Nicolae Mihai și Kurt Szilier. 

On the All-Around


GERA, 25 (by phone). In the locality, the gymnastics competitions with the “Friendship Cup” started on Friday, in which the youngest and most talented athletes from some socialist countries participate. The first to meet in front of the apparatus were the boys. As expected, the fight for first place was between the German D.R. and the Soviet Union, obviously the best in the competition. Proving greater homogeneity and presenting exercises with elements of great difficulty, the host country’s team achieved a clear victory. The Soviet athletes had to give up second place in the end, which was won by the second team of the German D.R. In the individual all-around, the top places were taken by representatives of the G.D.R. teams and U.S.S.R. Here, by the way, are the results by team — German D.R. I 279.00, German D.R. II 274.85, U.S.S.R. 274.40, Bulgaria 267.90, Korean D.P.R. 266.30, Hungary 266.25. The country’s team very close to its value, ranked 10th, with 257.80

During the afternoon of Saturday, the girls also entered the competition, our team, led by Nadia Comăneci, being among the contenders for one of the medals. At the end of a dispute of a very high technical level, followed with great interest by the hall full to the brim, the women’s competition ended with a particularly beautiful success of Nadia Comăneci (37.85). In terms of teams, the representative of the Soviet Union ranked first, followed by the German D.R. and Romanian teams. So, a first summary of our participation in this annual competition of the youngest gymnasts, a gold and a bronze medal. On Sunday, the apparatus finals are scheduled, Nadia Comăneci being qualified for vault, bars, and floor.

[Note: Ungureanu had qualified for the beam final, but the newspaper didn’t mention her.]

Sportul, August 26, 1973


GERA, 25 (prin telefon). In localitate au început vineri întrecerile de gimnastică dotate cu „Cupa Prietenia“, la care participă cei mai tineri și mai talentați sportivi din unele țări socialiste. Primii care și-au dat întîlnire în fața aparatelor au fost băieții. Așa cum era de așteptat, pentru primele locuri lupta s-a dat între formațiile R. D. Germane și Uniunii Sovietice, evident cele mai bune din concurs. Dovedind o mai mare omogenitate și prezentînd exerciții cu elemente de mare dificultate, echipa țării gazdă a obținut o victorie clară. Sportivii sovietici au fost nevoiți să cedeze pină la urmă și locul al doilea, cîștigat de formația secundă a R. D. Germane. La individual compus, pe primele locuri s-au clasat reprezentanți ai echipelor R.D.G. și U.R.S.S. Iată, de altfel, rezultatele tehnice pe echipe — R. D. Germană I 279,00, R. D. Germană II 274,85, U.R.S.S. 274,40, Bulgaria 267,90, R.P.D. Coreeană 266,30, Ungaria 266,25. Echipa țării foarte aproape de valoarea ei, s-a clasat pe locul 10, cu 257,80. 

In cursul după-amiezii de simbătă au intrat în concurs și fetele, echipa noastră, în frunte cu Nadia Comăneci, numărindu-se printre pretendentele la una din medalii. La capătul unei dispute de un nivel tehnic foarte ridicat, urmărită cu mare interes de sala plină pină la refuz, competiția feminină s-a încheiat cu un deosebit de frumos succes al Nadiei Comăneci (37,85). Pe echipe, prima s-a clasat reprezentativa Uniunii Sovietice urmată de formațiile R. D. Germane și României. Așadar, un prim bilanț al participării noastre la această tradițională întrecere a celor mai mici gimnaști o medalie de aur și una de bronz. Duminică sunt programate finalele pe aparate, Nadia Comăneci fiind calificată la sărituri, paralele și sol. 

On the Event Finals


GERA, 26 (by phone). — Sunday was reserved here, as part of the “Friendship Cup” gymnastics competition, for the women’s and men’s apparatus finals. Of course, our delegation mainly watched the girls’ competition, as our talented sportswoman Nadia Comaneci was directly involved in the medal fight. As we reported in our previous correspondence, Nadia qualified for the finals in three of the four events, namely vault, uneven bars, and floor, with the best chances on uneven bars, where the Romanian gymnast entered the competition with the highest score, 9.60. And, indeed, Nadia Comăneci once again imposed her high class, winning the gold medal on bars, obtaining the highest score on this apparatus on Sunday morning — 9.70. Also, this excellent sportswoman ranked first on vault, in which, performing a Tsukahara vault, our athlete scored 9.80! In the third final in which she participated, on the floor, Nadia Comăneci also performed very well, placing 3rd and thus obtaining the bronze medal. In this way, winning three gold medals (individual all-around, vault, and bars) and one bronze (floor). Nadia Comăneci was, indisputably, the best sportswoman in this competition, getting applause even during her routines and being unanimously appreciated by the specialists present here when reviewing the value potential of the young generation of gymnasts. Also, from the Romanian team (bronze medal winner with the following members: Nadia Comăneci, Teodora Ungureanu, Georgeta Gabor, Mariana Cojan[u], Liliana Brănișteanu and Gabriela Sabadiș) Teodora Ungureanu, winner of the silver medal on beam, had a particularly beautiful performance and ranked 4th on bars.

In general, the competition was of high technical value, many teams were excellently prepared, with exercises including many new elements, of great difficulty. The public present in the hall gave a warm welcome to the young Romanian gymnasts.

Sportul, August 27, 1973


GERA, 26 (prin telefon). — Ziua de duminică a fost rezervată aici, în cadrul cortipetiției dotate cu „Cupa Prietenia“ la gimnastică, desfășurării finalelor pe aparate, atît în întrecerea feminină cît și în cea masculină. Desigur, delegația noastră a urmărit cu precădere competiția fetelor, deoarece aici era angajată direct în lupta pentru medaliişi talentata noastră sportivă Nadia Comăneci. Aşa currt transmiteam in corespondenţa precedentă, concurînd foarte bine, Nadias-a calificat pentrufinală la trei din cele patru probe, şi anume la sărituri, paralele şi sol, cu cele mai mari șanse la paralele, aparat la care gimnasta româncă intri în concurs cu cea mai mare notă, 9,60. Şi, intr-adevăr, Nadia Comăneci și-a impus, din nou, clasa ei înaltă, cîștigînd detașat medalia de aur la paralelă, obținînd duminică dimineață cea mâi mare notă la acest aparat — 9,70. De asemenea, această excelentă sportivă s-a clasat prima și la sărituri, probă în care executînd o săritură Tsukahara sportiva noastră a fost notată cu 9,80 ! în cea de a treia finală la care a participat, la sol, Nadia Comăneci a evoluat de asemenea foarte bine, clasîndu-se pe locul 3 și obtinînd, deci, medalia de bronz. în felul acesta, cîștigînd trei medalii de aur (individual compus, sărituri și paralele) și una de bronz (sol). Nadia Comăneci a fost, indiscutabil, cea mai burtă sportivă din acest concurs, obținînd aplauze chiar în timpul execuțiilor și fiind apreciată unanim de specialiștii prezenți aici la trecerea în revistă a potențialului valoric al tinerei generații de gimnaști și gimnaste. De asemenea, din echipa României (cîștigătoarea medaliei de bronz în următoarea alcătuire: Nadia Comăneci, Teodora Ungureanu, Georgeta Gabor, Mariana Cojan, Liliana Brănișteanu și Gabriela Sabadiș) O comportare deosebit de frumoasă a avut Teodora Ungureanu, ciștigătoare a medaliei de argint la bîrnă și clasată pe locul 4 la paralele. 

In general, concursul a fost de o înaltă valoare tehnică, foarte multe echipă prezentîndu-se excelent pregătite, cu exerciții cuprinzând numeroase elemente noi, de mare dificultate. Publicul prezent în sală a făcut o călduroasă primire tinerelor gimnaste românce. 

Appendix: Men’s Results

Men’s Team

1. GDR-1279.00
2. GDR-2274.85
3. URS274.40
4T. BUL267.90
4T. PRK266.30
6. HUN266.25
7. TCH264.80
8. POL262.25
9. CUB257.90
10. ROU257.80

Men’s All-Around

1. Jensch
2. Ronneberg
3. Dityatin
4. Brückner
5. Nikolay
6T. Kowalik
6T. Nachtigall
8. PetrosyanURS55.20


1. JenschGDR18.75
2. DityatinURS18.70
3. Busse
4. Bermúdez
5. Laufer
6. Khaldushkin

Pommel Horse

1. NikolayGDR19.20
2. DityatinURS18.85
3. Horner
4. BrücknerGDR18.60
5. Racz 
6. Puskás


1. Kim Young PhaPRK18.80
2. Yun Hi CholPRK18.60
3T. Li Chol SuPRK18.55
3T. KowalikGDR18.55
3T. Wistemann (sp?)*GDR18.55
6. DityatinURS18.45
*The Russian results list his surname as Вистеман. 


1. JenschGDR19.275
2. Schönherr
3. Tabák
4. RonnenbergGDR18.575
5. BrücknerGDR18.300
6. Kopsch

Parallel Bars

1. NachtigallGDR19.15
2. RonnenbergGDR18.80
3. PetrosyanURS18.65
4. KhaldushkinURS18.60
5. Li Chol SuPRK18.50
6. JenschGDR18.30

High Bar

1. KeranovBUL19.00
2T. KowalikGDR18.90
2T. NikolayGDR18.85
4. BrücknerGDR18.70
5. SchönherrGDR18.65
6.  Wistemann (sp?)*GDR18.60

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