1973 European Championships WAG

1973: Tourischeva Sweeps the Women’s European Championships

Only four gymnasts have swept the medals at the European Championships: Latynina in 1957, Čáslavská in 1965 and 1967, Tourischeva in 1973, and Boginskaya in 1990. All legends in their own right. And, as we’ll see below, Tourischeva won the floor title even with a fall during finals.

Looking back on this competition, vault was one of the more interesting events because much innovation was happening. Korbut introduced a full twist onto the horse. (Unfortunately, she was too injured to compete in finals and scratched after trying to sprint down the runway.)

Additionally, Tsukaharas, the vault that Tsukahara Mitsuo popularized in 1970, were becoming popular in women’s gymnastics. While others had competed the skill previously, Tourischeva, the reigning World and Olympic all-around champion, was now doing it, helping the vault seem less “masculine,” as one newspaper described it during the 1973 University Games.

Fun Trivia Fact: While the media coverage focused on Tourischeva and Korbut, neither gymnast received the highest score during the competition. Angelika Hellmann of East Germany did — with a 9.7 during the uneven bars finals.

So, with no further ado, here’s what happened at the 1973 European Championships in London.

Olga Korbut and Ludmila Tourischeva take a walk around Wembley Stadium, London, 21st October 1973.

Quick Links: Chatter before the Competition | All-Around | Event Finals | Videos | Profile of Gerschau

Chief Judges for the Competition

Vault: Gotta (ITA)
Bars: Berger (GDR)
Beam: Wiesenberger (AUT)
Floor: Demidenko (URS)

Jury of Appeal:

Gander (SUI, President of the FIG)
Nagy (HUN, President of the WTC)
Simionescu (ROU, of the WTC)
Berg (of the WTC)
Baer (GBR, Director of the Competition)

Source: FIG Bulletin of Information, No. 2, 1973

Chatter before the Competition

The level of security was a big topic of conversation.

It appeared in several newspaper reports. Here’s what Sovetsky Sport reported:

Participants, coaches, judges, and official representatives were accommodated in a cozy Eco Motor Hotel in the northern part of London. The rules here are strict. Mr. Michael Holmes, the security officer, is responsible for meeting the arriving guests. Everyone receives a special pass to the hotel with a photo; without it getting in is impossible. Several cars are parked in front of the hotel at all times, huge service dogs are looking out from the windows. These precautions came in handy for our girls, as they were spared from the intrusive autograph hunters.

Sovetsky Sport, October 26, 1973

Все участницы, тренеры, судьи, официальные лица разместились в уютном «Эсомотор-отеле» в северной части Лондона. Порядки здесь строгие. Прибывающих встречает мистер Майкл Холмс, носящий титул офицера безопасности. Каждому вручается специальный пропуск в отель с фотографией — без него не пройдешь. Перед зданием гостиницы постоянно дежурят машины, из окон которых выглядывают здоровенные служебные собаки. Для наших девчат эти предосторожности обернулись к лучшему: по крайней мере, они избавлены от нашествия многочисленных любителей автографов.

Renata Stodůlková of Czechoslovakia was supposed to perform a double tuck on floor.

V. S. Rastorotsky also grunted something to Tourischeva. Not because there was a real reason, but because they are very demanding indeed. In any case, Rastorotsky’s worry is not about his student’s preparation, it was caused by a message from the press about the Czechoslovak gymnast Renata Stodulkova who for the first time performed a double salto on floor:

“Well done! She managed such a complex element! Look at us – we could have learned it ages ago, but we didn’t muster the courage. Let’s wait though. Let’s see who will be the first to show it at official competitions…”

Sovetsky Sport, October 26, 1973

В. С. Растороцкий тоже проворчал что-то Турищевой. Но это, как говорится, не по существу, а от их большой взыскательности. Во всяком случае Растороцкого в волнение приводит не подготовка его воспитанницы, а почерпнутое из прессы сообщение о том, что чехословацкая гимнастка Рената Стодулкова впервые выполнила в вольных упражнениях двойное сальто:
— Молодчина! Какой сложнейший элемент выполнила! А мы-то хороши — давно могли разучить его, да все смелости не могли набраться. Впрочем, подождем. Еще посмотрим, кто первым покажет его на официальных соревнованиях…

However, Stodůlková was injured right before the competition.

“They didn’t go there for medals, as it used to be the custom, they didn’t even go in the line-up we expected. Dorňáková got injured at the beginning of the preparation, Stodůlková at the end. If, for example, Stodůlková had been able to start, the European Championships – and especially us – could have boasted the premiere of a unique element: Renata does a double salto as the first woman in the world.”

Stadión, No. 47, November 20, 1973

„Nejely tam pro medaile, jak bývalo dříve zvykem, nejely dokonce ani v Sestavě, kterou jsme předpokládali. Dorňáková se zranila na začátku přípravy, Stodůlková v jejím závěru. Kdyby byla mohla startovat například Stodůlková, mohl se evropský šampionát — a hlavně my — pochlubit premiérou jedinečného prvku: Renata skáče jako první žena na světě dvojné salto.“

Note: Stodůlková competed a double tuck at Czechoslovakia’s control meet before the 1973 European Championships.

The mats were subpar.

Some troubles with equipment came up: the platform was covered with locally produced mats, which are thin and hard. The athletes could feel during the training already how unpleasant the landing was. Especially after vault. One of the coaches was absolutely right when he noted: “It is not those notorious ‘particularly risky elements’ that represent health and safety risk. Such equipment does. Even a simple turn on these mats can end up badly.”

Sovetsky Sport, October 27, 1973

Обнаружились неполадки в оборудовании: на помосте уложены маты местного производства — жесткие и тонкие. Еще на тренировках спортсменки ощутили, насколько неприятно приземление на них. Особенно после опорного прыжка. И, безусловно, прав один из тренеров, который заметил: «Нет, не пресловутые «особо рискованные элементы» угрожают здоровью гимнасток, а такое вот оборудование. Тут самый простенький переворотик грозит травмами».

Note: The reference to the ‘particularly risky elements’ is likely a reference to the Women Technical Committee’s attempt to ban Korbut’s skills in 1973.

It was hard to get a press credential.

The organizers’ attitude towards journalists is quite strange. The Soviet press correspondents, who are constantly working in London, cannot visit their compatriots, as they do not have special passes to the hotel. Even the press center accreditation does not do much. Besides, not everyone has it… For some reason, the correspondents from Pravda and Trud, as well as the correspondent from Nedelya who arrived to London from Moscow, did not get the accreditation. It should be noted that, two years ago, at the Minsk European Championship, not a single foreign journalist had any problems with accreditation. Neither those who applied in advance, nor those who arrived without any prior notification, nor even those who were late for the start of the competition. I know it for sure, since I worked in the press center in Minsk.

The Sunday Times patronizes the European Championship, which makes it even more surprising. They at least could take care of their foreign colleagues.

Sovetsky Sport, October 27, 1973

Весьма странно относятся организаторы к журналистам: Корреспонденты советской прессы, постоянно работающие в Лондоне, не могут посетить своих соотечественников — нет у них специальных пропусков в отель. Не помогает даже аккредитация при пресс-центре. Впрочем, и она есть не у всех… По непонятным причинам не получили аккредитации лондонские корреспонденты «Правды» и «Труда», а также прибывший из Москвы корреспондент «Недели». Заметим, что два года назад на минском чемпионате Европы ни один, подчеркиваю ни один, иностранный журналист не имел никаких осложнений с аккредитацией: ни тот, кто заранее сообщил о себе, ни тот, кто появлялся без всяких предварительных уведомлений, ни даже тот, кто опоздал к началу состязаний. Могу утверждать это совершенно точно, поскольку в Минске я работал в пресс-центре.
Все это тем более удивительно, что патронирует первенство Европы газета «Санди таймс». Уж там-то могли бы позаботиться об иностранных коллегах.

Tamara Lazakovich, the co-champion of the 1971 European Championships, was injured, according to Yuri Titov.

“People wonder why T. Lazakovich is not in the team.”

[Titov]: “Unfortunately, one of the two winners of the European Championship in 1971 got an injury at the beginning of this season. She has now recovered and resumed active training. I think that gymnastics fans will more than once have an occasion to admire Tamara’s wonderful performances.”

Izvestia, No. 248, Oct. 20, 1973

— Многих интересует, почему в команде нет Т. Лазакович?

— К сожалению, совладелица почетного звания победительницы первенства Европы 1971 года в начале этого сезона получила травму. Сейчас она поправилась и приступила к активным тренировкам. Думаю, что Тамара еще не раз порадует поклонников гимнастики своими замечательными выступлениями.

Note: Lazakovich did not return to competition. According to Minot Simons II:

The Lazakovich story has an unhappy ending. She died in November 1992 from alcoholism. She was married twice, the second time to a forester with whom she lived in the country. After finishing her gymnastics career, she got involved with criminals, was brought to trial on a charge of larceny, and seved several years in prison. She had a daughter by her second husband.

Women’s Gymnastics: A History, Volume 1, 1966 to 1974

The All-Around Competition – October 26, 1973

The Results – Top 15

1. Tourischeva
2. Korbut
3. Gerschau
4. Goreac
5. Hellmann
6. Schorn
7T. Császár
7T. Brázdová
9. Grigoraș
10T. Medveczky
10T. Blagoeva
12. Knapová
13. Matraszek
14. Jankowicz
15. Steger

Before the competition started, the audience was split between Korbut supporters and Tourischeva supporters.

It looked natural — Ludmila Tourischeva and Olga Korbut are considered the main, if not the only, contenders for the European champion title. All of London knows and loves them, and the sympathies of local gymnastics experts are divided in two: half are supporting Ludmila, and half are rooting for Olga.

Sovetsky Sport, October 27, 1973

И это выглядело закономерным — Людмила Турищева и Ольга Корбут считаются главными, чуть ли не единственными претендентками на звание чемпионки Европы. Их знает и любит весь Лондон, и симпатии местных знатоков гимнастики делятся в пропорции «фифти-фифти»: половина болеет за Людмилу, половина — за Ольгу.

Reminder: The Soviet gymnasts had visited London earlier in the year.

Korbut’s injury hampered her preparation. During podium training, she did only bars.

For those who followed the athletes’ preparations before the contest, Ludmila Tourischeva’s success was evident from the first trainings performed at the “Empire Pool.” On Friday, in the competition itself, Tourischeva showed us, in the most convincing way, that she is the most complete gymnast in the world, her exercises combining, at the same time, the elements of acrobatics with artistic ones, virtuosity with tenderness and finesse, risk for sure. Olga Korbut, who complained of constant pain in one leg, was forced to appear at the dress rehearsal on Thursday evening only for the bars warm-up, so her physical potential was obviously called into question. This state of affairs was also confirmed in the competition on Friday evening, when Olga Korbut — although encouraged and even cheered by the public, every time she appeared on the competition podium — could not perform to the level she had shown in other competitions. Out of the four apparatus, she showed a superclass only on uneven bars; on the other hand, on floor and vault, she had hesitations and insecurity, and on beam — her favorite event, in which many of her elements are unique in the world — Olga Korbut committed a series of errors that brought her very close to not even being among the finalists.

Sportul, October 28, 1973

Pentru cei care au urmărit pregătirile sportivelor înaintea concursului, succesul Ludmilei Turişceva se contura evident încă de la primele antrenamente efectuate la „Empire Pool“. Vineri, în concursul propriu zis, Turişceva ne-a arătat, la modul cel mai convingător, că este cea mai completă gimnastă a lumii, exerciţiile ei împletind, deopotrivă, elementele de acrobatică cu cele artistice, virtuozitatea cu gingăşia şi fineţea, riscul cu siguranţă. Olga Korbut, care acuza continue dureri la un picior, a fost nevoită ca la repetiţia generală de joi seara să nu apară decît la încălzirea de la paralele, astfel că era pus evident sub semnul întrebării potenţialul ei fizic. Această stare de fapt s-a confirmat şi în concursul de vineri seara, cînd Olga Korbut — deşi încurajată şi chiar ovaţionată de public, ori de cite ori apărea pe podiumul de întrecere — nu a putut evolua la valoarea dovedită de ea în alte competiţii. Din cele patru aparate, ea a manifestat o superclasă doar la paralele, în schimb la sol şi la sărituri a avut ezitări şi nesiguranţă, iar la blină — proba sa preferată, în care multe din elementele ei reprezintă unicate mondiale — Olga Korbut a comis o serie de erori care au dus-o foarte aproape de situaţia de a nu se număra nici măcar printre finaliste. 

The East German gymnasts were in the first group, so Kerstin Gerschau had to wait to see if her scores would be good enough for an all-around medal.

Angelika Hellmann and Kerstin Gerschau started on uneven bars, and both completed their tasks well: 9.55 for the older one, 9.40 for the 15-year-old debutante. Everything went “normally,” and when the fourth-placed all-rounder from Minsk 1971, Soňa Brázdová from the CSSR, received 9.15 points for her floor exercise, which she performed with great spirit, it seemed clear that the final scores of these three would set the benchmark for the top gymnasts in the second group presented in the same order. But would Kerstin be able to keep up with the fourth apparatus in her first major international competition? That didn’t seem to be a question for the Leipzig high school student. She pranced across the dreaded balance beam as if she were on the ground. Her transitions are graceful and confident, as is the difficult dismount.

Neues Deutschland, October 28, 1973

Der Mehrkampf hatte am Freitagabend in zwei Gruppen stattgefunden. In der ersten turnten a. unsere und die CSSR-Teilnehmerinnen, in der zweiten beherrschten die sowjetischen Vertreterinnen eindeutig das Geschehen. Angelika Hellmann und Kerstin Gerschau begannen am Stufenbarren, und beide lösten ihre Aufgaben gut: 9,55 für die Ältere, 9,40 für die 15jährige Debütantin. Alles verlief „normal”, und als die Mehrkampfvierte von Minsk 1971, Sonja Brazdova aus der CSSR, für ihre mit viel Esprit dargebotene Bodenübung 9,15 Punkte erhielt, schien klar, daß die Endnoten dieser drei den Richtungsmaßstab für die Spitzenturnerinnen der zweiten Gruppe in der gleichen Reihenfolge darstellten. Aber würde Kerstin bei ihrem ersten großen internationalen Wettkampf bis zum vierten Gerät mithalten? Für die Leipziger Oberschülerin schien das keine Frage zu sein. Sie tänzelte über den gefürchteten Schwebebalken, als befände sie sich auf ebener Erde. Graziös und sicher ihre Überschläge, sicher auch der schwierige Abgang.

The Soviet gymnasts started on floor.

Our gymnasts started with floor exercise. This apparatus has always been and remains for Soviet gymnasts a signature one. Our girls have not had serious rivals in this event for a long time. Was the order in our favor? Opinions on this matter differed. On the one hand, it is better to start with high scores (no one doubted that the scores would be high). On the other, however, the most difficult apparatus remained for the end and the tricky beam was the very last one.

Sovetsky Sport, October 28, 1973, no. 254

Начинали наши гимнастки с вольных упражнений. Снаряд этот всегда был и остается для советских гимнасток ударным. Давно уже здесь наши девушки не имеют серьезных соперниц. Удачно ли сложилась жеребьевка? Мнения по этому поводу расходились. С одной стороны, выгодно начинать с высоких оценок (а что они будут получены, никто не сомневался). Но с другой, на финише оставались наиболее сложные снаряды и последним — коварное бревно.

Tourischeva struggled on her double full, and Korbut’s injured foot impaired her.

Tourischeva in the very first diagonal lacked confidence in the landing of the double twist. She did not make any serious errors after that and received a good score of 9.6. Korbut’s leg hurt, so she had to somewhat simplify her routine. She put more emphasis on the choreographic details expressiveness than on the complexity. This did not go unnoticed. She received 0.15 less than Tourischeva.

Sovetsky Sport, October 28, 1973, no. 254

Турищева в первой же диагонали не совсем уверенно приземлилась после двойного пируэта. Но в дальнейшем серьезных погрешностей не допускала и получила неплохую оценку — 9,6. Корбут, у которой побаливала нога, вынуждена была немного упростить свою комбинацию. Она больше заботилась о выразительности хореографических деталей, чем о сложности. Для судей это не осталось незамеченным. Ей поставили на 0,15 меньше, чем Турищевой.

Tourischeva performed a Tsukahara, and Korbut showed a handspring with a full twist onto the vault.

Vault. Both of our athletes adopted the same tactics. They performed a long-mastered vault first: Tourischeva showed a forward flip with a 360-degree turn, while Korbut performed a pike. For their second vault, they both showed something new: Tourischeva performed a “Tsukahara” while Korbut showed a vault that no woman had performed before: a 360 degrees “screw” in the first phase of the flight, then arms pushing against the apparatus, followed by a forward flip. They both scored 9.3. The same score went to the German gymnast U. Schorn, whose vault was simpler, but whose landing was flawless.

Sovetsky Sport, October 28, 1973, no. 254

Перешли к прыжку. Обе наши спортсменки придерживались одной и той же тактики. В первой попытке они выполняли давно освоенный прыжок: Турищева — переворот вперед с поворотом на 360 градусов, а Корбут —  «сгиб-разгиб». Во второй попытке обе показали новинки. Для Турищевой это была «цукахара», а для Корбут — впервые в мире показанный женщиной. прыжок: в первой фазе полета «винт» на 360 градусов до толчка руками о снаряд с последующим переворотом вперед. Оценки получили одинаковые — 9,3. Столько же поставили гимнастке из ФРГ У. Шорн, которая выполняла более простой прыжок, но приземлилась безукоризненно.

Both gymnasts were outstanding on bars.

The bars, which were the third apparatus, showed a balance of power again. Both of our girls received the highest scores of the day with 9.65 points. Tourischeva demonstrated a highly complex routine, which included three turns and a dismount with a twist. Korbut again has smitten the hall with her famous flip. Tourischeva was 0.2 points ahead of her friend before the last apparatus. However, here was the beam – that very apparatus on which Korbut has her own signature element – a backward tucked somersault that brought her a gold medal at the Olympics. Experts immediately recalled the previous European championship, when Tourischeva and T. Lazakovich got the same all-around score and both won gold medals. Who knows, maybe this will be a case again.

Sovetsky Sport, October 28, 1973, no. 254

На третьем снаряде — брусьях — снова равновесие сил. Оценки у обеих наших девушек высшие За весь день — 9,65 балла. Турищева продемонстрировала сложнейшую комбинацию, включавшую в себя три вертушки и соскок с пируэтом. А Корбут снова покорила зал своей знаменитой петлей. Перед последним снарядом Турищева опережала свою подругу на 0,2 балла. Но впереди было бревно — тот самый снаряд, где у Корбут есть свой «фирменный» элемент — сальто назад в группировке и где она завоевала на Олимпиаде золотую медаль. Знатоки тотчас стали вспоминать ситуацию, которая сложилась на предыдущем чемпионате континента, когда Турищева и Т. Лазакович набрали одинаковую сумму баллов в многоборье. и обеим были вручены золотые медали. Что ж, такое не исключено и в этот раз.

Olga’s injury hindered her performance on beam. As for Tourischeva, despite not being able to warm up on the actual beam, she hit her beam routine, albeit at a slower speed.

Unfortunately, Korbut’s injury was showing itself, so she had to do without her famous salto. It was too risky – if she fell, she could lose the medal altogether, the result that our delegation didn’t care for. Korbut got a quite low score for her (9.25) and left the hall limping.

Tourischeva suddenly got a reason to worry more than this newly developed situation required. Ludmila did not have time to warm up on the balance beam and only practiced the most difficult elements on the floor several times, which is not the same. This is when our wonderful gymnast proved her strong character of a true champion. She chose a wise tactic. Without eliminating a single element from the routine, she decided to perform it with a less wide amplitude than usual, and on a slightly slower speed. Naturally, the judges noticed it, but there was no fault to be found. Her 9.55 score was fair and well-deserved.

Thus, quite unexpectedly, the gap between the first and second prizes significantly grew. The main task, however, was achieved with great confidence and dignity. Our gymnasts won two medals of the European Championship. They proved that the Soviet gymnastic school keeps its leading position on the Old Continent, which means in the world in essence.

Sovetsky Sport, October 28, 1973, no. 254

Однако у Корбут все больше давала о себе знать травма, н она снова была вынуждена обойтись без своего знаменитого сальто. Риск был слишком велик — в случае падения можно было вообще лишиться медали, а это никак не входило в планы нашей делегации. Корбут получила оценку для себя — невысокую к 9,25 и, прихрамывая, ушла из зала.
Турищевой же совершенно неожиданно пришлось поволноваться больше, чем того требовала прояснившаяся ситуация. Получилось так, что Людмила не успела размяться на бревне ин только несколько раз повторила наиболее сложные элементы на полу, что далеко не одно и то же. Но вот тут-то и сказался твердый, поистине чемпионский характер нашей замечательной гимнастки. Тактически она поступила абсолютно правильно. Не выбросив из комбинации ни одного элемента, она решила выполнять ее не на такой широкой амплитуде, как обычно, и в чуть более замедленном темпе. Судьи,
естественно, заметили это, но придраться было не к чему. Оценка 9,55 выглядела. вполне убедительной и заслуженной.
Так, в общем-то, довольно неожиданно разрыв между первым и вторым призером значительно увеличился. Но главная задача была решена уверенно и достойно. Две медали чемпионата Европы — у наших гимнасток. Они убедительно доказали, что советская гимнастическая школа сохраняет за собой передовые позиции на Старом континенте, что практически означает — и в мире.

According to Vít Matlocha, the head coach of Czechoslovakia, Tourischeva made art.

“They both have what makes a gymnast a champion. Excellent technique, difficult yet attractive routines, strong movement, confidence in the exercises. And yet Olga, not nearly as femininely graceful as Ludmila, no sooner goes on stage and does two or three moves than she has the audience on her side. A year ago in Munich, she managed to become a showstopper and she still is.”


“Ludmila is a closed person, she keeps her surroundings – as they say – at arm’s length and leaves the audience cold. She is deservedly an absolute champion and really the best gymnast in the world today, who has to build mainly on her art, great art. Because she can’t, like Korbut, sweep the onlookers off their feet with spontaneous enthusiasm. But every victory is all the more precious.”

Stadión, November 20, 1974

„Ludmila je uzavřený člověk, drží si okolí — jak se říká — od těla a nechává obecenstvo chladné. Je po zásluze absolutní mistryní a skutečně současnou nejlepší gymnastkou na světě, která musí stavět hlavně na svém umění, velkém umění. Protože nedokáže tak jako Korbutová strhnout přihlížející ke spontánnímu nadšení. Tím cennější je však každé její vítězství.“


„Obě mají to, co z gymnastky dělá mistryni. Vynikající techniku, obtížné a přitom líbivé sestavy, výrazný pohybový projev, jistotu při cvičení. A přece Olga, zdaleka ne tak žensky půvabná jako Ludmila, sotva vyjde na scénu a udělá dva tři pohyby, má na své straně obecenstvo. Dokázala se před rokem v Mnichově stát šlágrem a je jím pořád.“

Romania showed great improvement. And just as Olga Korbut was the talk of the 1971 European Championships even though she didn’t compete, Nadia Comăneci was on the minds of gymnastics experts in London in 1973.

Some changes in the balance of power on the European gymnastic platform did not escape from our specialists: the successful performance of the GDR gymnasts came as no surprise. Their gymnastics traditions are old and strong. Romanian gymnasts’ progress is quite striking, even if 12-year-old N. Comăneci did not participate this time. Our coaches had already seen her at youth competitions and think highly of her talent. U. Shorn’s progress was also fast. Suffice it to say that her stock includes a double pirouette in floor exercises, which in London, besides her, Tourischeva was the only one to perform. She also has quite modern routines on uneven bars and beam. The bad luck of the Czechoslovak gymnasts can be explained by the fact that for some reason they didn’t bring their strongest athletes to London. In a word, our leaders have strong rivals across the entire European continent. They are talented, ambitious and they will put every effort to line up with the leaders. Our girls are ready to this fight.

Sovetsky Sport, October 28, 1973, no. 254

Не укрылось от наших специалистов и некоторое изменение в расстановке сил на европейском гимнастическом помосте: успешное выступление гимнасток ГДР никого, конечно, не удивило. Традиции у них давние и прочные. Очень заметно выросли гимнастки Румынии. А ведь среди них не было 12-летней Н. Команечи, с которой наши тренеры уже познакомились на юношеских состязаниях и оценивают ее способности чрезвычайно высоко. Быстро прогрессировала и У. Шорн. Достаточно сказать, что на ее вооружении двойной пируэт в вольных упражнениях, который в Лондоне, кроме нее, выполняла лишь Турищева, и вполне современные комбинации на брусьях и бревне. Относительная неудача гимнасток Чехословакии заключается в том, что по разным причинам оны не смогли привезти в Лондон своих сильнейших спортсменок. В общем, соперниц на Европейском континенте у наших лидеров хватает. Они талантливы, честолюбивы и, конечно, будут стремиться догнать лидеров. Наши девушки к этому готовы.

Since the Women’s Technical Committee was determining whether certain skills were too risky, the increasing level of difficulty was on everyone’s minds.

Here’s what Vít Matlocha had to say:


“No one can stop this development. But difficulty is a relative term. A new original element is only temporarily difficult as long as it is only done by the competitor who first came up with it. A few years ago, this was the case with the full-twisting salto; today at least a hundred competitors practice it. Not long ago, a clear hip on uneven bars was an exclusive element, now it is part of the basic repertoire of the leading gymnasts. Not only Tourischeva, but also Schorn from West Germany has done a double twist in London. The somersault on bars is only in Korbut’s program. But also certainly not for long.”


“There is no danger of stagnation in women’s gymnastics. The development is leading to a further rise in difficulty, but hand in hand with this – quite rightly – is the demand for precision and elegance of execution. All of this is true in general, and therefore also for us. We have verified again in London what we already knew before, that we need to add more acrobatics on floor and on balance beam, to make the routines on bars more difficult, to start reinventing attractive elements and to find and educate gymnastic personalities. Then perhaps there will be hope for a comeback…”

Stadión, November 20, 1974

„Tenhle vývoj nikdo nezastaví. Obtížnost je ovšem relativní pojem. Nový originální prvek je obtížný jen dočasně, dokud ho dělá jen závodnice, která s ním jako první přišla. Před několika lety to tak bylo se saltem s dvojným obratem, dnes je cvičí nejméně stovka závodnic. Nedávno byl přemyk na bradlech exkluzívním prvkem, nyní patří k základnímu vybavení předních gymnastek. Salto s čtverným obratem v Londýně už skákala nejen Turiščevová, ale i Schornová z NSR. Jen prohnuté salto na bradlech má ve svém programu Korbutová. Ale také jistě ne nadlouho.“


„V žádném případě nehrozí ženské sportovní gymnastice jakékoliv nebezpečí stagnace. Vývoj spěje k dalšímu vzestupu obtížnosti, ale ruku v ruce s tím — zcela oprávněně — se žádá preciznost a elegance provedení. To všechno platí obecně, tedy i pro nás. Ověřili jsme si v Londýně znovu to, co jsme věděli už předtím, že potřebujeme přidat v akrobacii v prostných i na kladině, zobtížnit sestavy na bradlech, začít znovu vymýšlet atraktivní prvky a vyhledávat a vychovávat gymnastické osobnosti. Potom snad bude naděje na návrat…“

Note: Matlocha was correct; Korbut’s salto on bars would quickly be replicated. Zinke of East Germany won the bars title at the 1974 World Championships with a Korbut loop.

Event Finals – October 27, 1973


1. TourischevaURS9.309.5518.85
1T. HellmannGDR9.309.5518.85
3. SchornFRG9.309.4018.70
4T. GoreacROU9.209.3518.55
4T. GerschauGDR9.259.3018.55
6. BrázdováTCH9.209.3018.50

The vault judges were tough, and Sovetsky Sport raised an age-old question: Should judges be more lenient when judging more difficult skills?

Then the gray-eyed, graceful Romanian A. Goreac impressively flipped a “Tsukahara”, but her landing was somewhat inaccurate, so she scored 9.35. The judges were so severe with the landing inaccuracies as if they completely ignored what the gymnast was showing in flight. One could not help wondering. Whether it was after a simple Yamashita or after complex turns, a tiny step on the mat was punished with exactly the same deductions. One has to be a real athlete sincerely devoted to gymnastics in order to dare a highly complex vault with such severe judging.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Затем сероглазая, изящная румынка А. Горяк лихо завертелась в «цукахаре», но приземлилась чуть неточно и заработала 9,35. Откровенно говоря, нельзя не удивляться тому, как судьи оценивали погрешности при приземлении — словно не замечая, что проделывает гимнастка в полете. Маленький шажок по мату и после простого «сгиб-разгиба», и после сложных вращений карался совершенно одинаковыми сбавками. И надо быть настоящей спортсменкой, искренне преданной гимнастике, чтобы при таком направлении в судействе решиться на прыжок высокой трудности.

The Romanian press also felt that Goreac was judged too harshly.

It’s a pity that Alina was unjustifiably deducted on vault (attempt in which she was scored only with 9.20, although she executed her “Tsukahara” vault very well), because otherwise we would have seen her on the podium with Tourischeva and Korbut. The foreign journalists at the press table praised the result of Alina Goreac, considering the Romanian athlete the author of the biggest surprise of this edition of the E.C.

Sportul, October 28, 1973

Păcat că Alina a fost depunctată nejustificat la sărituri (probă în care a fost notată doar cu 9,20, deşi a executat foarte bine săritura sa „Tsukahara“), căci altfel am fi văzut-o pe podium alături de Turişceva şi Korbut. Ziariştii străini de la masa presei au comentat elogios rezultatul Alinei Goreac, considerînd-o pe sportiva româncă autoarea celei mai mari surprize a acestei ediţii a C.E. 

The Hungarian press reported that Goreac’s flight wasn’t high enough.

Goreac did an piked Tsukahara somersault, but since the judges apparently didn’t find the arc of the vault high enough, he only got a 9.35 for the spectacular move.

Nésport, October 28, 1973

Goreac nyújtott testű Cukahara-szaltót ugrott, de mivel, úgy látszik, a bírák nem találták az ugrás ívét elég magasnak, a látványos mozdulatért csak 9.35-öt kapott. 

Reminder: Gymnasts were required to show a high pre- and post-flight on vault.

Korbut approached the vault but did not make an attempt. Then, she withdrew due to her ankle injury.

Meanwhile, Korbut was invited to the apparatus. She ran fast, but suddenly missed the horse. Limping, she stepped down from the platform and leaning on the board that separates the audience stands from the arena, buried her face in her hands. The leading coach Polina Astakhova rushed to her and helped her get to the chair; doctors arrived too, and soon the announcer called the Czechoslovak gymnast S. Brázdová, a reserve participant in the final. It was obvious that Olga couldn’t continue.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Тем временем к снаряду вызвали Корбут.  Разбежалась она резво, но вдруг проскочила мимо коня, хромая, спустилась с помоста и тут же, опершись о бортик, отделяющий места зрителей от арены, склонила голову на руки. Подбежала к ней выводящий тренер Полина Астахова, помогла добраться до кресла; подоспели врачи, и вскоре диктор вызвал запасную участницу финала чехословацкую гимнастку С. Браздову. Стало ясно; продолжать выступления Ольга не может.

Tourischeva was sympathetic towards Korbut.

In the evening, when all the unrest was left behind, Lyuda Tourischeva frankly confessed:

“It was bad. I was sad for Olga. I can’t say that it unsettled me but for a moment I was confused. It’s much easier to perform together. Anything can happen on the platform, and if you suddenly stagger or fall, a friend will help you out, so we won’t leave without a medal. Now, however, I had no right for mistakes. The responsibility is huge. Perhaps it was this responsibility that made me to pull myself together.”

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Вечером, когда все волнения остались позади, Люда Турищева откровенно призналась:
— Неприятный был момент. И за Ольгу было очень обидно, и я не то чтобы дрогнула, но на какое-то мгновение растерялась. Вдвоем выступать гораздо легче. На помосте всякое бывает, и, если вдруг споткнешься, упадешь, подруга выручит. Все равно без медали не останемся. А тут уж ошибок допускать нельзя. Ответственность огромная. Быть может, она-то и помогла мне взять себя в руки.

Like Goreac, Tourischeva also went for a Tsukahara.

Ludmila exchanged glances with her coach V. Rastorotsky, nodded and pointed to the plate with the number “24”. It stands for “Tsukahara”. Performing this highly difficult vault in both attempts was a bold decision. In the first one, Luda straightened up a bit late and scored 9.5 and in the second, she flew high and added another 0.05 points to her score. Judges gave the same score to A. Hellmann from the GDR for her handspring with a 360-degree turn. Since their score of the first day was equal, the gold medal had to be doubled.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Людмила обменялась взглядами со своим тренером В. Растороцким, кивнула головой и указала на табличку с цифрой «24». Так обозначается «цукахара». Решение было смелым — в обеих попытках выполнить этот сложнейший прыжок. В первой Люда чуть поздновато выпрямилась, получила 9,5, а во второй взлетела высоко и прибавила к своей оценке еще 0,05 балла. Столько же поставили судьи и А. Хелльман из ГДР за переворот вперед с поворотом на 360 градусов, а поскольку и в первый день оценки у них были равные, то золотые медали пришлось вручать в двух экземплярах.


1. TourischevaURS9.659.6519.30
2. HellmannGDR9.559.7019.25
3. GoreacROU9.509.4518.95
4. CsászárHUN9.359.5518.90
5. GerschauGDR9.408.7518.15
6. GrigorașROU9.308.8018.10

The judges were conservative with their scores and didn’t show any favoritism towards exceedingly difficult routines.

Tourischeva was the first to perform on the bars. The Londoners have just begun to discover gymnastics, but they were already able to appreciate the incredible complexity of our champion’s routine and her brilliant skill. A storm of applause burst in the hall. The judges, however, were less enthusiastic. 9.65 is a good score, but it is astonishing how indifferent they are to the daring of the gymnasts and their desire to master high complexity. Their score for Goreac was not too generous either, even if she demonstrated a modern routine saturated with difficult elements.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Упражнение на брусьях Турищева выполняла первой. Лондонцы только начинают познавать гимнастику, но они сумели оценить невероятную сложность комбинации нашей чемпионки и её блестящее мастерство. Буря оваций разразилась в зале. А судьи оказались более сдержанными. Оценка 9.65 — достаточно высокая, но все же не перестаешь удивляться тому, как же равнодушны они к дерзаниям гимнасток, к их стремлению овладеть высокой сложностью. Поскупились они на оценку Горяк, которая и здесь продемонстрировала комбинацию построенную в современном духе, оснащенную трудными элементами.

Angelika Hellmann received the highest score of the Championships — a 9.7.

Hellmann remained Tourischeva’s main rival here as well. Her performance received the highest score of the championship — 9.7. Still, even this was not enough to get ahead the absolute champion of Europe. For the second time that day, the Soviet Union Anthem sounded at Wembley.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Главной соперницей Турищевой и здесь оставалась Хелльман. За свое выступление она получила высшую оценку чемпионата— 9,7. Но и этого оказалось недостаточно, чтобы обойти абсолютную чемпионку Европы. Второй раз в этот день на «Уэмбли» прозвучал Гимн Советского Союза.

Here’s Hellmann’s routine:


1. TourischevaURS9.559.5519.10
2. GoreacROU9.409.4518.85
3. GrigorașROU9.359.4018.75
4T. CsászárHUN9.259.4018.65
4T. GerschauGDR9.409.2518.65
6. SchornFRG9.208.2017.40

The finalists’ performances on the balance beam were impressive. A thin, tall Romanian A. Grigoraș performed her routine with great amplitude. The audience was looking forward to the performance of 16-year-old U. Schorn. There was a rumor that she had mastered the “Korbut flip”. But at the very beginning of the routine, Uta, while performing a handstand after the mount, failed to hold on the apparatus and fell. Almost right after that, she fell off the beam again. That’s a shame: her routine is very interesting indeed.

Goreac showed her passion for high complexity again. Her routine included a roll, a handspring, and a dismount with a twist. However, she made some pauses that she should not have done.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Яркими были выступления участниц финала на бревне. На широкой амплитуде выполнила свою комбинацию тоненькая высокая румынка А. Григораш. С интересом ожидали выступления 16-летней У. Шорн. Поговаривали даже, что она освоила «сальто Корбут». Но в самом начале комбинации Ута, выполняя после наскока стойку на руках, не удержалась на снаряде и упала. И почти тут же еще раз сорвалась с бревна. А жаль: комбинация у нее действительно очень интересная.
Горяк снова продемонстрировала свое пристрастие к высокой сложности. В ее комбинации были и кувырок, и фляк, и пируэт в соскоке. Правда, были и остановки, которые делать не рекомендуется.

The Romanian press was quite pleased with its performance.

Competing very close to her maximum potential, with performances of great difficulty and in the desire to represent the country’s colors with honor, Alina Goreac capitalized on three of her four possibilities, winning the silver medal on the balance beam and the bronze medals on uneven bars and floor, a highly prestigious performance for our female gymnastics, which thus updates the old tradition of Romanian successes registered in major international competitions. With a safe execution, in an alert rhythm, on the beam, Anca Grigoraş also climbed the podium of the “European women,” obtaining the bronze medal on this apparatus.

Sportul, October 28, 1973

Concurînd foarte aproape de potenţialul ei maxim, cu execuţii de mare dificultate şi în dorinţa de a reprezenta cu cinste culorile patriei, Alina Goreac şi-a valorificat trei din cele patru posibilităţi, cucerind medalia de argint la bîrnă şi pe cele de bronz la paralele şi sol, performanţă de mare prestigiu pentru gimnastica noastră feminină, care reactualizează astfel vechea tradiţie a succeselor româneşti înscrise în competiţiile internaţionale de anvergură. Cu o execuţie sigură, într-un ritm alert, la bîrnă, Anca Grigoraş a urcat şi ea pe podiumul de premiere al „europenelor“, obţinînd medalia de bronz la acest aparat. 


1. TourischevaURS9.609.3018.90
2. GerschauGDR9.359.4518.80
3. GoreacROU9.209.5518.75
4. HellmannGDR9.259.4018.65
5T. BrázdováTCH9.159.3018.45
5T. SchornFRG9.159.3018.45

Tourischeva touched her hand down after her double full.

Here’s how she explained the error:

Tourischeva stumbled at the same moment as on the first day, and touched the mat with her hands. She confessed afterwards:

“I got terribly scared. But only for a moment. Then I managed to pull myself together, and finished the routine all right.”

It has been a while since Tourischeva’s score for her floor exercise was so low – 9.3. The routine accompanied by Russian themes, with original choreography, is very bright and interesting, it will surely delight the spectators more than once. We were waiting for Gersсhau’s performance, as she was the only gymnast who could catch up with our leader. For that, she had to score at least 9.55. Gersсhau’s routine, with a rather modernist choreography didn’t include much of the modern acrobatics. This circumstance did not let her score more than 9.45. We will also note that Shorn also performed an element of the highest complexity — a double twist.

Sovetsky Sport, October 30, 1973, No. 255

Выполняя в первой диагонали двойной пируэт, Турищева снова споткнулась на том же самом месте, что и в первый день, и коснулась руками ковра. После она, призналась:
— Перепугалась я ужасно. Но это только на мгновение. А дальше удалось собраться, и комбинацию как-будто бы закончила удачно.
Давно уже Турищева не получала такой оценки за свои вольные — 9,3. Тем более что сама комбинация, в сопровождении русских мотивов, с оригинальной хореографией, очень яркая и интересная, и наверняка не раз еще она будет вызывать восторг зрителей. Мы ожидали выступления Гершау, потому что практически это была единственная гимнастка, которая могла догнать нашего лидера. Для этого ей нужно было получить оценку не ниже 9,55. Комбинация Гершау, с хореографией  довольно модернистского порядка, не была оснащена современной акробатикой, и это обстоятельство не позволило ей получить больше, чем 9,45. Остается только  заметить, что Шорн и здесь выполнила элемент высшей трудности — двойной пируэт.

Gerschau opted for some American-style floor music.

Particularly during floor exercise, the graceful GDR representative received storms of cheers from the mostly young audience; Her optional exercise to Charleston and Black Bottom sounds, which left such a playfully light impression, was peppered with acrobatic difficulties. The highlight was a full-twisting salto, which was immediately followed by a front aerial after landing. There is no need to question that with further diligent training Kerstin will eliminate any rough edges that are still present on uneven bars and balance beam, where she showed the most difficult mount with a straddle jump followed by sinking into the splits.* 

Berliner Zeitung, October 30, 1973

Besonders beim Bodenturnen konnte die anmutige DDR-Vertreterin Jubelstürme des meist jugendlichen Publikums einheimsen; Ihre Kür nach Charleston-und Black-Bottom-Klängen, die einen so spielerisch leichten Eindruck hinterließ, war gespickt mit akrobatischen Schwierigkeiten. Glanzpunkt dabei ein Sprung mit ganzer Drehung, dem sich nach der Landung sofort ein freier Überschlag vorwärts anschloß. Es bedarf keiner Frage, daß Kerstin bei weiterem fleißigen Training auch noch am Stufenbarren und Schwebebalken, wo sie mit einem Sprung In den Grätschwinkel mit anschließendem Sinken zum Spagat den schwierigsten Aufgang zeigte, noch vorhandene Ecken und Kanten beseitigen wird. 

By the way, the title for the article was “A Chick Is Moulting” (“Ein ‘Küken’ mauserte sich).

*Note: Gerschau did not use her hands while jumping into the splits for her mount.

One final remark

According to Valerie Nagy, the president of the WTC at the time, the gymnastics and judging were not quite up to snuff:

The technical standard at the European Championships was still rather lower than that of the World Championships, doubtless in view of the youthfulness of the gymnasts.


Judging: The judging varied very considerably, certain judges being already very experienced while others had very little experience.

FIG Bulletin of Information, no. 2, 1974



Event Finals – Part 1

Event Finals – Part 2

Appendix: A Short Profile of Kerstin Gerschau

Anyone who followed the GDR’s extensive television coverage of the 9th Women’s Gymnastics in London last weekend witnessed her big international debut. Only the gymnastics experts had previously become aware of the Leipzig high school student, who was born on January 26, 1958, when she took third place with good performances in the GDR Gymnastics Association cup competition.

The daughter of the Leipzig SCL coach can’t even point to any major Spartakiade successes. In 1970 her name appears only once, as a bronze medal winner on balance beam. Two years later, she was unable to place.

The principle of giving a young talent a chance at the European Championships alongside a top competitor, and her excellent and stable performance this year, earned her a place at the European Championships, which she made excellent use of. The surprising third place was followed by a silver medal on floor.

The 1.59 m tall and 48 kg surprise from London attaches great importance to the fact that she does not have a special position in the club; she is not even trained by her father, Helmut Gerschau. Her international debut gives her the best hopes if she continues to train diligently.

Neues Deutschland, November 2, 1973

Wer am vergangenen Wochenende die umfangreiche Berichterstattung des DDR-Fernsehens von den 9. Turneuropameisterschaften um Frauenturnen aus London verfolgte, war Zeuge ihres großen Internationalen Debüts. Nur die Turnexperten waren wohl vorher auf die am 26. Januar 1958 geborene Leipziger Oberschülerin aufmerksam geworden, als sie beim Pokalwettbewerb des DDR-Turnverbandes mit guten Leistungen den dritten Rang belegte.

Nicht einmal auf große Spartakiade erfolge kann die Tochter des Leipziger SCL-Trainers verweisen. 1970 taucht ihr Name nur einmal, als Bronzemedaillengewinnerin am Schwebebalken, auf. Zwei Jahre später konnte sie sich nicht platzieren.

Das Prinzip, bei Europameisterschaften neben einer Spitzenturnerin einem Nachwuchstalent eine Chance zu geben, und ihre hervorragenden und stabilen Leistungen in diesem Jahr brachten Ihr die Teilnahme am Europachampionat die siehervorragend gut nutzte. Dem überraschenden dritten Rang folgte die Silbermedaille am Boden.

Die 1,59 m große und 48 kg schwere Überraschung von London legt Wert darauf, daß sie Im Klub keine Sonderstellung einnimmt, sie wird nicht einmal von Trainervater Helmut Gerschau trainiert Ihr internationales Debüt berechtigt bei anhaltendem Trainingsfleiß zu den schönsten Hoffnungen..

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2 replies on “1973: Tourischeva Sweeps the Women’s European Championships”

Love to read the Sovetsky Sport commentary about “our girls” Tourischeva & Korbut. They got me hooked on gymnastics!

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