1973 Universiade WAG

1973: The Women’s Competition at the University Games

At the 1973 University Games, the Soviet women were able to repeat their 1970 success, winning team gold and sweeping the all-around podium. They also won gold on every individual apparatus — with Olga Korbut winning three of the four event finals. (The Moscow University Games held an all-around final and apparatus finals for the first time.) 

The increasing level of difficulty was evident at the 1973 Universiade. Even though the Women’s Technical Committee was debating whether to ban a standing back tuck on beam, more and more gymnasts were attempting the skill after Korbut and Thies did the skill in Munich. At least three gymnasts performed the skill at the 1972 Soviet National Youth Championships, as did Joan Moore at the 1972 Chunichi Cup. And at the 1973 University Games, Hayashida also attempted a standing back tuck.

Women’s vault was also changing. Gehrke had done a Tsukahara at the 1972 Riga International, and one year later, the vault was becoming more commonplace with Bogdanova winning the vault title in Moscow with her “masculine Tsukahara,” as Sovetsky Sport called it.

Here’s what happened at the 1973 University Games…

Olga Korbut at the World University Games at the Lenin Central Stadium. The exact date of the photograph is unknown. Nikolai Naumenkov/TASS PUBLICATION

Quick Links: Team | All-Around | Event Finals

The Team Competition


1. URS29.0027.8528.5029.10114.45
2. JPN27.5027.0026.3527.55108.40
3. HUN27.5527.2526.4027.10108.30
4. TCH26.7527.1026.0026.30106.15
5. USA26.8525.6025.5527.45105.45
6. CAN26.4026.7025.2026.85105.15
7. BUL27.2025.8524.7525.90103.70
8. CUB25.6525.3023.6026.20100.75
9. MEX25.1024.6524.3025.8599.90
10. FRA24.5524.7522.1024.4095.80
Source: Gymnast, Oct. 1973

Here’s how Sovetsky Sport described the team competition:

When our four stepped on the stage, a heavy weight of moral responsibility was placed on their shoulders. Our team didn’t have any particularly strong opponents – the female team from GDR didn’t come to Moscow to participate. However, their opponents were other —gray-haired — rivals from the International Federation technical committee.

[Note: Prior to the University Games, there was discussion of banning many of Korbut’s more famous skills — her salto on bars, as well as her standing back tuck on beam. You can read more about it here.]

In the vault competition, the leading athlete E. Saadi scored 9.7. A. L. Bogdanova scored 9.75 for her bold “Tsukahara.” Everybody was waiting for Korbut however; she failed to stick the landing on both attempts.

The beginning was triumphant, the continuation however was quite nervous. Bogdanova fell from the bars while performing the modernized version of the “Korbut flip,” her 8.55 score was added to the total. Saadi fell as well. Korbut was magnificent and familiarly waved to the cheering spectators – she scored 9.75.

The team was leading confidently nevertheless.

I observed no difficulty in their performance on the beam – it is so organically integrated into the fabric of the elements. They all, however, had some technical flaws, all except Korbut who playfully performed all her “extra-ultra” elements like a bird, and scored 9.7.

What about the floor exercises? It was, as always, our all-genre concert – starting with the Burda’s symphonic style (9.6), Saadi’s classical ballet (9.7), Bogdanova’s Estrada performance (9.8) and Korbut’s eccentricity show (9.8).

Thus, our girls became champions of the “World University Games-73”. The USSR team scored 114.45 points, followed by the Japanese gymnasts with their 108.4 points and athletes from Hungary – 108.3 points. In the individual all-around competition, the first prize went to Olga Korbut with her 38.8 points. Then followed L. Burda (38.1), L. Bogdanova – (37.1) and E. Saadi with her 37.05 score.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 192

И когда наша четверка вышла на помост, на ней лежал груз моральной ответственности. Команда не имела особо сильных соперниц — женская сборная команда ГДР в: Москву не приехала. Но команда соревновалась с другими — седовласыми — соперницами из технического комитета Международной федерации.
На прыжках уже — «забойщица» — Э. Саади получила 9,7. А Л. Богданова за свою лихую «цукахару» — 9,75. Все ждали Корбут, но она оба раза не попала в доскок — 9,55.
Начало было триумфальным, продолжение — нервным. Богданова упала с брусьев — с «петли Корбут», которую она делает в модернизированном варианте, в зачет пошли ее 8,55 (упала и Саади). Корбут была великолепна и уже  привычно помахала ручкой зрителям, приветствовавшим ее, — 9,75.
Однако команда уверенно лидировала.
На бревне у наших я, честно говоря, не заметил сложности, настолько органично вписана она в ткань упражнений. Были, правда, у девушек небольшие технические огрехи — у всех, кроме Корбут, которая, играючи, проделала все свои экстра-ультра, только  крылышками трепетала — 9,7.
Ну, а вольные? Это был, как всегда, наш концерт во всех жанрах-—от симфонизма Бурды (9,6) и классического балета Саади (9,7) до эстрады Богдановой (9,5) и эксцентриады Корбут (9,8).
Итак, наши девушки — чемпионки «Универснады-73». У команды СССР 114,45 очка, далее следуют гимнастки Японии — 108,4 и Венгрии — 108,3. В личном зачете перед розыгрышем абсолютного  первенства впереди Ольга Корбут — 38,8. Далее следуют: Л. Бурда — 38,1; Л. Богданова — 37,1; Э. Саади — 37,05.

Gymnast thought that Burda had a better bar routine than Korbut.

Olga’s routines were the same as she threw in Munich, but her dance moves and leaps looked better. Bogdanova threw a round-off piked back for her vault [i.e. a piked Tsukahara]. Saadi has a very different floor exercise style for a Russian, it is very exotic looking with many interesting transition moves. Bogdanova and Saadi have double-twisting backs off the beam and on floor. Burda’s style is much like Tourischeva’s. Burda has very clean bars and should have scored higher than Korbut.

Gymnast, Oct. 1973

And here’s what Japan’s Official Report said about the Japanese team:

The Japanese team competed with the U.S.A. in group 1. Each competitor was given 30 seconds to prepare for each event.

(1) Uneven bars

The competition started with this apparatus, however, because the U.S., who had done the preparation exercises earlier, used extra time, the final performer, Hayashida  had to perform without warming up on the apparatus.

However, she managed to get her body warmed up before her turn, and she performed beautifully in the competition. Moreover, it was the highest score among the Japanese and American teams. All the athletes performed as usual, and they got off to a good start.

(2) Balance beam

I was worried about the performance on this instrumental event, as it would greatly affect the results. The first performer was Muta, and she performed calmly and surely. Her performance was very encouraging to the other athletes, and she led the way well. After that, all the athletes seemed to be at ease. There was a moment when Hanyu leaned back on her signature turn and had to hold on for a while, but she managed to keep it within an acceptable level.

(3) Floor exercise

 Japan showed a solid performance while the U.S., with its excellent moves and techniques, made minor mistakes and did not score many points. Perhaps, all of them showed their best twisting moves and sure-footed movements ever.

(4) Vault

Since the athletes had scored in the previous three events, the wave of their good form did not break even after the start of the vault, with Yabe and others scoring high scores with two solid landings.

Japan’s Official Report on the 1973 Universiade

日本チームは1班にアメリカと組んで演技を行った。 準備運動は各種目毎に,各選手30秒が与えられた。

(1) 段違い平行棒

この器械から始まったが,先に準備運動を行ったアメリカが時間を余分に使ったため、 最終演技者である林甲が器械にさわらないまま演技をしなければならなくなった。

しかし、自分の試技順が来るまでに,身体を温め動かして本番では見事に演技したのはさすがであった。しかも, 日本チーム・アメリカチーム中最高得点であった。各選手平常通りの演技で、 まずまずのスタートを切ったことになる。

(2) 平均台

この器械種目の出来不出来が大きく成績に影響するので心配であった。 最初の演技者は牟田で, 実に落着いた確実な実施で終った。 これは他の選手に与える精神的なものがあり, 十分に先導の役をはたしてくれた。 以後各選手共楽になったようである。羽生が得意のターンで、 うしろに傾き, しばらくこらえる場面があったが,まあまあの程度におさめたのはさすがであった。

(3) ゆか

動き, 技において優れているアメリカが細まかいミスをおかしてあまり点が伸びなかったのに比べ日本は堅実な演技を見せた。 おそらく全員が今までにないすばらしい出来の回転技と確実な動きを見せてくれたのではないかと思うほどであった。

(4) 跳馬

前の3種目を確実に得点して来ているために, 跳馬に入ってからも, 好調の波は崩れず矢部などは着地をビシッと2回共決めて高得点を得た。

The All-Around

The Results – Top 10

1. Korbut
2. Burda
3. Saadi
4. Bogdanova
5. Bánfai
6. Békési
7. Yabe
8. Bellák
9. Hanyu
10. Krasná

Sovetsky Sport provided only a quick highlight reel:

In the women’s competition scheduled late in the evening, Olga Korbut’s victory was beyond question. Straight away on floor exercise, the Olympic champion scored 9.8. She does a brilliant element, which can be considered her personal signature just like her flip and back handspring somersault with a chest roll. Breathtaking. Her vault also brought Korbut a score of 9.8.

The last apparatus was beam. The last somersault, that very famous one, that fast somersault dismount…

The athlete from Grodno Olga Korbut is the all-around champion of the University World Games. Her final score is 77.65. The silver medal went to Lyubov Burda – a gymnast from Voronezh with a score of 76.45, and the bronze medal went to Elvira Saadi from Tashkent – 75.45.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 194, 1973

У женщин, которые выступали поздно вечером, победа Ольги Корбут не вызывала особых сомнений. И уже в первом виде — в вольных упражнениях — олимпийская чемпионка сразу заработала 9,8 балла. Есть там у нее ослепительный элемент, который можно считать таким же фирменным знаком, как ее «петля» и сальто-фляк в перекат на грудь. Сердце замирает. Прыгнула Корбут тоже на 9,8 балла.
…Последний снаряд — бревно. Последнее сальто —- то самое, знаменитое, и в темпе соскок сальто…
Спортсменка из Гродно Ольга Корбут: — абсолютная чемпионка Универсиады. Ее окончательный результат — 77,65. Серебряную медаль завоевала гимнастка из Воронежа Любовь Бурда — 76,45, бронзовую — Эльвира Саади из Ташкента — 75,45.

According to Japan’s Official Report, the Japanese gymnasts competed nervously and lost their sureness:

After a solid performance in the team championships, all Japanese athletes qualified for the individual championships: Hayashida (5th), Yabe (6th), Hokota (11th), and Hanyu (19th).

Furthermore, Hayashida’s and Yabe’s performances were excellent, and it seemed certain that they would win prizes if they kept up their good performance.

When the competition began, the Japanese athletes’ performances were sure, but they were not so relaxed. When they performed as a team, it was not so bad, however, among the foreign athletes, especially the Soviet athletes, the sureness that was thought to be their strong point seemed to be reflected in their eyes as nervousness and lack of confidence. Or perhaps they were conscious of winning, but compared to the American and Canadian athletes, who seemed to be enjoying their performances, the smiles disappeared from their faces, just like those of the Hungarian and Czechoslovak athletes.

Yabe wobbled a lot on the balance beam, and Hayashida fell, making it almost impossible for them to win.


Hayashida’s attempt to do a salto on the balance beam, which she had not previously done, backfired, causing her to fall. On the uneven bars, she kicked the bottom bar and fell on the upper bar, forcing her to stop. This dropped her to 12th place.

Hokota gave a solid performance but was not able to show any gains and finished in 14th place.

Hanyu, who had placed 19th, rallied to recover from her poor performance in the team championships to finish in 9th place, and we wished she had performed a little better in the qualifying rounds. The Soviet athletes showed a performance that belied their failure in the team championships and showed a strength unmatched by other countries’ athletes.

Japan’s Official Report on the 1973 Universiade

団体選手権で手堅い演技を見せた日本選手は、 林田が5位, 矢部が6位, 牟田11位, 羽生19位で全員が個人選手権出場資格を得た。

しかも, 林田, 矢部の成績はすばらしく, このままいけば入賞することは間違いないと思われた。

競技が始まってみると, 日本選手の演技は確実なところはあるが, 伸び伸びとしたところがなく, チームで演技しているときには, それほどでもないが,外国選手, 特にソ連選手の中に入って演技をすると,長所と思われた確実さは逆に緊張したぎごちなさとして, 眼にうつるように感じた。 あるいは, 入賞を意識したのかも知れない, アメリカ・カナダなどの選手が楽しそうに演技していたのに比べると, ハンガリー・チェコスロバキアの選手同様笑顔が消えた演技になってしまっていた。

平均台で矢部がふらつき多く, 林田が落下して,ほぼ入賞不可能になってしまった。


林田は平均台でこれまで使用していなかった宙返りを入れたのが裏目に出て落下してしまった。 平行棒でも考え過ぎたのか低棒を蹴って高棒に倒立するところで中断してしまった。これで12位まで後退することになった。


羽生は,19位で通過していたが奮起して団体選手権でのもたつきの汚名を一挙挽回9位まであがり,予選での成績が今少し良かったらとくやまれた。ソ連選手は、団体で見せた失敗が嘘のように思えるような演技を見せ, 他国選手とは比較にならない強さを示した。

Event Finals

August, 1973. Moscow, USSR. Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, performs her routine on the bars during the 1973 Summer Universiade at the Lenin Central Stadium. Nikolai Naumenkov/TASS PUBLICATION


1. Bogdanova
2. Saadi
3. Korbut
4. Burda
5. Yabe
6. Bánfai
Source: Japan’s Official Report
Note: Gymnast magazine printed the scores incorrectly in its issue about the Universiade.

Bogadnova was injured.

The winner was Bogdanova. She injured her ankle but made only one attempt at the coach’s insistence. After that, she dropped balance beam and floor exercise.

 Yabe was unable to land on her feet and finished in 5th place.

 The one who showed a skill with a twist this time was Burda.

Japan’s Official Report on the 1973 Universiade

優勝はボグダノワ。 足首を痛めていたが, コーチの強い要求で1回だけ試技を行った。 このあと平均台, ゆかを棄権している。




1. Korbut
2. Bellák
3. Burda
4. Bánfai
5. Diachun
6. Hayashida

Both Burda and Hayashida had a few struggles.

Hayashida was in 3rd place, however she could have been in 2nd place since Burda failed to perform the final move. But she [Hayashida] failed in going to the handstand as in the individual competition, dropping to 6th place. Hayashida’s performance, although it did not include any new technique, was very difficult and was highly evaluated.

林田が3位で通過,その上2位のブルダ選手が終末技が実施できず失敗に終り, 2位の可能性が十分にあった。 しかし, 個人のときと同じ倒立に行くところで失敗6位に落ちてしまった。 林田の演技は,新しい技こそ組まれていないが難度は高く, そこを高く評価されたものである。


1. Korbut
2. Burda
3. Saadi
4. Bellák
5T. Hayashida
5T. Bánfai

The Soviet team swept the podium, and they moved as if they were on the floor.

All six athletes performed satisfactorily, and there was no change in the ranking. The performances of the Soviet athletes did not make us feel that they were on the beam at all, which was amazing and intimidating considering the effort and time required to practice to this high level of ideals.

出場6選手全員が, 自分自身納得のいく演技を見せ順位に変動はなかった。それにしても, ソ連選手達の演技は全く台上であることを感じさせないもので,ここまで理想を高めて練習する努力と,それに必要とする時間とを考えると驚威を感じる。


1. Korbut
2. Saadi
3. Burda
4. Spencer
5. Hayashida
6. Békési

According to the Japanese, the Soviets were twisting as well as the men, Spencer’s routine was a “mess,” and tape recordings were worse than live accompaniment.

The Soviet athletes have incorporated twisting skills that are no different from those of the men’s team and will continue to incorporate more difficult techniques in the future, and they are also trying to execute two or more somersaults in a row, which is something we have not seen in the Japanese athletes.

Also, the 4th place finisher, Spencer from the U.S., was a bit of a mess in her moves, but freely and looked like she was having a good time.

In Japan, we are only allowed to accompany pianist to the Olympic games and world championships for economic reasons. In Hayashida’s turn, the accompaniment was changed from piano to tape recorder, and the recording was in poor condition, which was a little embarrassing.

In the women’s gymnastics world, it has already become a common practice to have a pianist participate in a competition. This time, out of 14 countries including individual participants, only 4 countries used tapes, and only 2 countries used tapes for teams.

In the individual events, this is especially important since it must be done among foreign athletes.

ソ連選手は、 全く男子と変らない回転技を組み入れ、今後もますます難度の高い技を組み入れようとしていること, しかも, 宙返りを2個以上連続させて実施しようとしていることは, 日本選手に見られないものであった。

また、4位になったアメリカのスペンサーが動きは雑であったが伸びのあるもので, 楽しそうに演技していたのが目立った。

日本では,まだ経済的な理由をあげて, オリンピック,世界選手権大会にしか, ピアニストを同行させていないのであるが, 林田のときになって伴奏がピアノからテープレコーダーになり,しかも、録音状態の悪いものであったために少々恥かしい思いをした。

すでに女子体操界では, ピアニストを参加させることが常識化している。 今回, 個人参加も含めて14ヶ国中, テープを使用したのは4ヶ国, チームでは2ヶ国しかなかった。

個人種目別では, 外国選手の間で行わなければならないために、 特に注意しておかなければならないことであろう。

Sovetsky Sport printed only one paragraph about the women’s event finals:

Korbut’s triumph is not an accident. Over the last few years, I have rarely seen a gymnast who achieved such stunning stability and automatism in performing such complicated elements. Perhaps only K. Janz in her best years. However, Janz didn’t do such complicated stunts and couldn’t present her routine to the spectator with such an artistic touch. Young Bogdanova succeeded only thanks to her very masculine Tsukahara, which is performed by two more women in the country and nobody else in the whole world.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 195, 1973

Триумф Корбут не случаен. В последние годы мне не приходилось видеть гимнастки, добившейся такой поразительной стабильности, такого автоматизма в исполнении
столь сложных элементов. Разве что К. Янц в лучшие годы. Но у Янц и трюков таких не было, и не умела она так артистично подавать зрителю свою программу. Юная Богданова добилась успеха за счет чисто мужского прыжка «цукахара», который у нас в стране прыгают еще две девушки, а в мире больше никто.

Note: The statement about Tsukahara vaults is not true. Gehrke of East Germany did a Tsukahara in 1972.

More on 1973

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