1974 MAG World Championships

1974: The Men’s Team Competition at the World Championships

In 1974, not much changed in terms of the top standings. Japan won its fourth-straight team title, the Soviet Union won its fourth-straight team silver at the World Championships, and East Germany won its third-straight team bronze at the World Championships. 

That said, it wasn’t a boring competition by any stretch of the imagination. Innovation was flourishing in men’s gymnastics. For example:

  • Bernd Jäger adapted Karin Janz’s salto for high bar, performing the now-famous Jäger release. 
  • Nikolai Andrianov attempted a triple back off high bar. (According to the East German press, he never successfully landed it.)
  • Both he and his teammate Vladimir Marchenko did full-twisting double backs on floor. (Marchenko had performed one earlier that year in Riga.) 
  • Janós Sivadó did his eponymous travel on pommel horse.
  • Vladimir Safronov and Kasamatsu Shigeru performed full-twisting Tsukaharas. The skill is now called a Kasamatsu, and Safronov has been forgotten.

Here’s what else happened during competitions 1a (Tuesday, October 22, 1974) and 1b (Thursday, October 24, 1974) in Varna, Bulgaria.

The Results

1. JPN46.9046.8047.1047.4548.2047.95284.40
2. URS46.1045.9047.0047.2547.5047.05280.80
3. GDR46.8045.5546.0546.8047.0547.25279.50
4. HUN*44.3545.8545.3046.7045.0545.40272.65
5. GER45.2044.5546.1546.7045.3046.10274.00
6. ROU44.1044.2046.4546.4544.4544.75270.40
7. SUI44.4545.0544.3546.0045.4045.00270.25
8. USA44.7543.5044.4546.0044.9545.00268.65
9. TCH45.2044.1044.3546.3544.4045.10269.50
10. POL43.8043.0544.0046.9544.6545.30267.75
11. FRA44.8544.2544.6045.8544.1044.45268.10
12. BUL45.7538.6044.3046.2043.6044.65263.10
13. YUG40.6542.7041.9046.1042.8043.65257.80
14. ITA41.6041.8545.2045.4543.1042.90260.10
15. GBR40.0038.6539.0044.4040.6541.85244.55
16. KOR37.5036.0539.4042.5540.2543.20238.95
17. CAN38.3040.4541.3543.4041.7537.90243.15
18. FIN**30.4033.1041.4044.2033.4535.10217.65
Note: For every team, the compulsories are listed in the first row and optionals are listed in the second row. To save horizontal space, final totals are listed under each country code in the first column.

Sources used: Olympische Turnkunst, no. 12, 1974 and Neues Deutsches Turnen, no. 12, 1974

* Neues Deutsches Turnen lists Hungary’s compulsory scores as such: 44.55 (FX), 45.85 (PH), 45.30 (SR), 46.70 (VT), 45.05 (PB), 45.20 (HB)

**Nissinen of Finland did not compete due to injury.

Competition Commentary

Quick Links: JPN | URS | GDR | HUN | ROU | APPENDIX: Short appraisals of every country


It was clear from the start that the Japanese men were going to win.

The Japanese, of course, almost in solitude, worked in an entirely different category, and the entire hall watched them admiringly. Among the good ones, Kasamatsu seemed to be standing out more and more. The way he did the exercises is possibly the best possible way. Of course, the Japanese also made a few errors here and there, but these did not affect the team’s results in any way. Their first place was never a question, the GDR came up third in the meantime. 

Népsport, October 23, 1974, no. 249

A japánok, persze, szinte magányosan, külön kategóriában dolgoztak, az egész csarnok csodáló figyelmétől kísérve. A jók között pedig egyre inkább legjobbnak nőtte ki magát Kaszamacu. Ahogy ő tornászott, annál már talán nem is lehet szebben. Persze, a japánok is rontottak itt-ott, de ezek a csapateredményt nem befolyásolták, első helyük mindvégig biztos volt, az NDK pedig feljött harmadiknak.

The Japanese team had great depth.

It’s good when not one, but three athletes can lay claim to the all-around title at the same time. This is how it used to be in our team too in its old golden years – now this is the case for the Japanese. So when Kato, releasing the bar too early, throwing his legs too high, almost made a somersault in the air and scored 8.55, or when Kenmotsu jumped off the mat on floor exercise (9.05), it did not feel like a catastrophe.

The Japanese must have already been sharing future medals for individual apparatus. Tsukahara was the last to perform on the horizontal bar, and this skillful master, this smiling tiger who, as he was approaching the apparatus, with lazy panache raised not his hand, but a clenched fist, carelessly scored 9.7.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 252, 1974

Хорошо, когда не один, а трое сразу могут претендовать на абсолютное первенство. Так в нашей сборной было в ее давние золотые годы, и так сейчас у японцев. И, скажем, когда Като, слишком рано сорвавшись с перекладины, слишком высоко закинув ноги, едва не перекувырнулся в воздухе и заработал 8,55, когда Кенмоцу в вольных выпрыгнул за ковер (9,05), трагедией это не выглядело.
Они, японцы, пожалуй, уже делили на будущее медали на отдельных снарядах. На перекладине, во всяком случае, выпустили последним Цукахару, и этот мастер трюка, улыбчивый тигр, который, выходя к снаряду, с ленивым щегольством поднимает не руку, а сжатый кулак, небрежно заработал 9,7.

More on Kato’s injury

Reminder: Kato was the 1968 and 1972 all-around champion. He missed the 1970 World Championships due to a torn Achilles.

The Japanese in the meantime reached their next victory with a less confident strand. On the very first apparatus, they lost Sawao Kato, a two-time Olympic champion. On the horizontal bar, he injured his right hand, lost the grip, fell, rushed up, powdered his palms, grabbed the bar, stubbornly tried the same element and fell again. He was helping then his teammates to carry their sports bags using his left hand only, and any “eight” on any of the six apparatus could count for the Japanese total score. However, everything turned out well for them; the elegant Kasamatsu and the impeccably accurate Kenmotsu led their team to success.

Sovetsky Sport, no. 252, 1974

А японцы пришагали к очередной своей победе не такой уж спокойной походкой. На первом же снаряде они потеряли Савао Като, двукратного олимпийского чемпиона: работая на перекладине, он повредил правую кисть, сорвался, упал, вскочил, напудрил ладони снова подпрыгнул и взялся за гриф, упрямо пошел на тот же элемент и упал снова. Потом он только одной левой рукой помогал товарищам таскать спортивные сумки, и любая «восьмерка» на всех шести снарядах могла пойти у японцев в зачет. Но все у них обошлось благополучно, Элегантный Касамацу и безукоризненно правильный Кенмоцу привели товарищей к успеху.
Kato Sawao’s injury on high bar at the 1974 World Championships

Source: Képes Sport, Oct. 29, 1974

The Swiss press felt that the Japanese team was underscored, especially by the judges from the Eastern Bloc.

Taking into account this complication, the superior victory of the traditional world champion gains even more value. The Japanese squad not only had to deal with this handicap, but even more with the judges from the Eastern Bloc, who hardly took into account the risky gymnastics of the Asians and often “punished” them with low scores, which provoked the protest of the spectators.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Number 474, 25 October 1974

Berücksichtigt man diese Erschwerung, so gewinnt der überlegene Sieg des traditionellen Weltmeisters noch an Wert. Die japanische Riege mußte aber nicht nur mit diesem Handicap fertig werden, noch mehr setzten ihnen die Kampfrichter aus dem Ostblock zu, die das risikoreiche Turnen der Asiaten kaum berücksichtigten und sie oft mit tiefen Noten «bestraften», die den Protest der Zuschauer herausforderten.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union struggled with compulsory pommel horse. Even Viktor Klimenko, the 1972 gold medalist on the apparatus, fell.

The Soviet athletes performed in the first evening session alongside teams from Hungary, Bulgaria, the USA, Poland, and Yugoslavia. They started with the pommel horse, known for its complexity, yet our gymnasts usually successfully tamed it. V. Safronov secured a score of 9.15 points. P. Shamugia followed. He began strongly then made a mistake that resulted in a score of 8.7 points.

V. Marchenko, E. Mikaelyan, N. Andrianov performed excellently on this apparatus. Unfortunately, one of our team leaders, V. Klimenko, slipped on one of the first elements and… fell from the pommel horse. This was a regrettable mishap, especially considering that, according to many expert coaches, Klimenko was a strong contender for the top awards.

As a result, V. Klimenko received 8.1 points. Looking ahead, I must mention that after the first apparatus, we were already significantly trailing behind the Japanese athletes in the team competition.

Izvestiia, No. 251, October 23, 1974

Советские мастера выступали в первой вечерней смене вместе с командами Венгрии, Болгарии, США, Польши и Югославии. Начали с упражнений на коне. Как известно, это очень коварный снаряд, но наши гимнасты обычно успешно укрощали его Оценка В. Сафронова — 9,15 балла. Вторым выходит П. Шамугия. Начал он неплохо, но затем допустил ошибку и в результате — 8,7 балла.
В. Марченко, Э. Микаелян, Н. Андрианов успешно выступили на этом снаряде. Однако один из лидеров команды — В. Клименко, ошибается на одном из первых же элементов и… падает со снаряда. Досадная неудача, тем более что, по мнению многих тренеров-специалистов, Клименко собирался бороться за высшие награды.
Итак, у В. Клименко на коне — 8,1 балла. Забегая вперед, скажу, что уже после первого снаряда мы значительно проигрывали в командном зачете японским спортсменам.

For a while, it seemed like the Soviet team had recovered from their mishaps on pommel horse.

After the failures with pommel horse, our team clearly pulled themselves together and set their minds for the rings. Safronov was clenching his teeth with strain, Shamugia was turning purple from the efforts, Marchenko was working hard and accurately. In a word, they went from 9.3 (the lowest score in the total) to 9.65 (gained by Andrianov). Their vaults were also getting longer, while their landings grew more and more accurate: 9.3… 9.4… 9.45… Kolya soared like a bird. He got another 9.65 points…

Was there any hope of beating the Japanese this time, you will ask. But we never lost it, it is bound to happen, they are not enchanted… Moreover, things went even better on parallel bars: 9.3 for Safronov and Marchenko, 9.4 for Mikaelian, 9.45 for Shamugia and Klimenko. Andrianov, whose stretched toes were as if they were tied with an invisible white thread, accurately finished the stand, and then jumped off with a perfect precision. 9.7. This is a good rhythm of scores; a focused silence was reigning in our team.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 250, 1974

После неудач на коне наши явно собрались и настроились на кольцах. Натужно сжимал зубы Сафронов, багровел от усилий Шамугия, упорно и чисто работал Марченко… Словом, прошли они от 9,3 (низшей оценки в зачете) до 9,65 у Андрианова. И в прыжках они летели все дальше, приземлялись все точнее: 9,3… 9,4… 9,45… А Коля взмыл, как
птица, и опять у него 9,65…
Вы спросите, была ли вообще на сей раз надежда обойти японцев? А она у нас никогда не пропадает, должно же это случиться, не заколдованные же они… Тем более что на брусьях дела пошли еще лучше: по 9,3— у Сафронова и Марченко, 9,4 — у Микаэляна, по 9,45 — у Шамугия и Клименко. Андрианов, оттянутые носки которого были точно связаны невидимой белой ниточкой, точнехонько вышел в стойку, точнехонько соскочил—9,7. Это уже настоящий накат оценок, и сосредоточенное молчание царит в стане нашей сборной.

Then, Andrianov struggled on his high bar dismount, and both Andrianov and Klimenko struggled on handstands on floor.

However, the falls of the team leaders – Nikolai Andrianov and Viktor Klimenko, on whom we had pinned our hopes, came as a complete surprise. The absolute national champion Andrianov started his performance exceptionally well. His scores on the first four apparatuses were very high: pommel horse – 9.45, rings – 9.60, vault – 9.65, parallel bars – 9.7. On the fifth apparatus – high bar, after a flawless execution of the entire routine, Nikolai made an obvious mistake in the dismount – he bent his legs in the air, and the unforgiving judges deducted half a point from his score. In the end, he received only 9.25.

“If only this mistake had been the sole one… On floor, while executing the ‘press handstand’ element, he bent his arms, and the score of 8.85 points caused Andrianov to slip down to 5th-6th place with the combined total of all compulsory program exercises.

The second seasoned champion of the USSR National Team, Klimenko, oddly enough, was betrayed by his nerves. Only this can account for his stumble at the very start of his performance on the pommel horse. He received only 8.1 points. Later, he replicated Andrianov’s mistake on floor exercise.

Yuri Titov, Gudok, No. 250, October 24, 1974

А вот срывы лидеров команды — Николая Андрианова и Виктора Клименко, на которых возлагались особые надежды, явились для нас полной неожиданностью. Абсолютный чемпион страны Андрианов начал выступление просто отлично. Его оценки на первых четырех снарядах были очень высокие: конь — 9,45, кольца —
9,60, прыжок — 9,65, брусья — 9,7. На пятом снаряде — перекладине, выполнив всю комбинацию просто превосходно. Николай допустил явную ошибку при соскоке — в воздухе согнул ноги, и неумолимые судьи сняли с его оценки верных полбалла. В итоге только 9,25.
Но если бы эта ошибка оказалась у Коли единственной… В вольных упражнениях при выполнении элемента «стойка силой» он сгибает руки, и 8.85 балла отбросили Андрианова на 5—6-е место, по сумме всех упражнений за обязательную программу.
Второго опытного бойца Сборной СССР — Клименко, как это ни странно, подвели нервы. Только этим можно объяснить его срыв в самом начале выступления на коне. Его оценка только 8.1 балла. А затем он допустил такую же ошибку, как и Андрианов, в вольных упражнениях.

Here’s what Andrianov’s coach had to say about the mistakes:

Late in the evening I spoke with Tolkachev, Andrianov’s coach. He was radiating with gloom, and asking him anything felt awkward. I asked nonetheless. “Nikolai Grigorievich, why did it happen? Kolya was well prepared, wasn’t he?” Tolkachev answered without hesitation: “It’s his own fault. Everyone kept telling him that he needed to work on his handstand and his dismount. He needed to work hard.”

That was the explanation. When everything is so tense, the weaknesses come out. In other words: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Sovetsky Sport, no. 250, 1974

Поздно вечером я поймал Толкачева, андриановского тренера. Он был нерен лицом, и спрашивать у него что-либо казалось даже неудобным. Но я все-таки спросил: «Николай Григорьевич, как же так, Коля-то хорошо был готов?», Толкачев ответил без промедления: «Сам виноват. Твердили ему — надо работать над «спичагом» и над соскоком. Работать, работать…»
Вот и объяснение. Когда все так напряжено, то наружу выступают слабые места. Другими словами: где тонко, там и рвется.

According to Yuri Titov, Andrianov redeemed himself during the optional portion of the competition.

N. Andrianov’s performance deserves a special mention. His failures in the compulsory program did not deter him; on the contrary, they fueled his competitive spirit. He had never performed with so much inspiration, precision and confidence. Moreover, Nikolai dared to include in his routine some extremely challenging elements: a unique “triple somersault” as a dismount from high bar (the Japanese didn’t dare to perform this element in competitions, although they were doing it in practice) and, I would say, a record-breaking element on floor exercise – a full-twisting double somersault.

Yuri Titov, Gudok, No. 252, October 26, 1974

Особых слов заслуживает выступление Н. Андрианова. Неудачи в обязательной программе не сломили его, а, наоборот, только добавили спортивной злости. Так вдохновенно, четко и уверенно он еще никогда не выступал. Причем Николай не побоялся вставить в свои комбинации сверхсложные элементы: уникальное «тройное сальто» при соскоке с перекладины (японцы побоялись выполнить этот элемент на соревнованиях, хотя на тренировке делали его) и, я бы сказал, просто рекордный элемент в вольных упражнениях — «двойное сальто с пируэтом».

Note: Previously, Mark Davis, a college gymnast in the U.S., had attempted a triple back off high bar. Here’s one of his attempts:

Mark Davis, triple back flyaway attempt

Davis also performed a full-twisting double back off high bar in 1970, before Tsukahara performed the dismount at the 1972 Olympics. (Source: Modern Gymnast, May 1970).

Here’s one of Andrianov’s triple back dismounts.

According to the East German gymnastics magazine, Neues Deutsches Turnen, Andrianov did not successfully land his triple in 1974:

It was also Andrianov who was the only one to risk the triple somersault as a high bar dismount – a pioneering act that deserves recognition for this very reason, even though this super-C dismount could not yet be brought to a stand.

Neues Deutsches Turnen, no. 12, 1974

Andrianow war es auch, der als einziger den dreifachen Salto als Reckabgang riskierte — eine Pioniertat, die gerade deswegen Anerkennung verdient, obwohl dieser Super-C-Abgang noch nicht in den Stand gebracht werden konnte.

Other East German articles make similar comments:

Nikolai Andrianov (USSR) was the first to show the triple somersault from the high bar at the 1974 World Championships in Varna, although he had not stood up.

Berliner Zeitung, October 12, 1978

Als erster zeigte Nikolai Andrianow (UdSSR) bei der WM 1974 in Warna den dreifachen Salto vom Reck, den er allerdings noch nicht stand. Von den DDR-Turnern wagte sich Bernd Jäger an diese schwierige Übung.

Andrianov landed his full-twisting double on floor awkwardly. 

There was something alarming too; on his last apparatus, floor exercise, while performing a “moon somersault”, first showed on the mat by our Marchenko, Kolya landed awkwardly and jumped off the platform on one leg. Volodya Safronov rushed to fetch the doctor; later Andrianov came out to the award ceremony with a limp. There is still a whole day before the final – all our hopes lie now in Doctor Legonkova.

Sovetsky Sport, no. 252, 1974

Одно, тревожит: на последнем своем снаряде— вольных, исполняя «лунное сальто», первооткрывателем которого на ковре является наш Марченко, Коля неловко приземлился, запрыгал с помоста на одной ноге. Володя Сафронов опрометью кинулся за врачом, а на церемонию награждения Андрианов вышел хромая. Конечно, еще сутки до финала. И теперь вся надежда на доктора Легонькову.
Nikolai Andrianov, full-twisting double back, Competition 1b

Video from Hardy Fink

Reminder: The full-twisting double back off high bar was originally called the “moon salto” — a skill for the Space Age.

Klimenko had shoulder problems that hampered his performance.

Only one thing interests our foreign colleagues: “What happened to Klimenko?” The pommel horse Olympic champion smudged the ending on this apparatus (9.2), underpressed his handstand on rings (9.2) and missed his handstand on parallel bars (8.65)… Our leading coach Leonid Arkaev kept checking his left shoulder and forearm – Viktor was wincing… He didn’t do the horizontal bar at all, he didn’t even warm up, although he put on the pads at the last moment. He wanted to try himself in the floor exercise, but the doctor forbade it immediately.

Soon I found out that Viktor’s shoulder muscle was pinched so he suffered from some kind of temporary atrophy. Late in the evening, I spoke with the famous former Bulgarian gymnast, multiple national champion Nikola Prodanov, who told me: “I think it happened because of stress, he must have forced too hard and some nerve burned out, like a light bulb wire.”

Sovetsky Sport, no. 252, 1974

Зарубежные коллеги только об одном нас спрашивают: «Что случилось с Клименко?». Олимпийский чемпион в упражнении на коне смазал на этом снаряде концовку (9,2), недожал стойку на кольцах (9,2), не вышел в стойку на брусьях — 8,65… Наш выводящий тренер Леонид Аркаев все трогал его левое плечо, и предплечье, а Виктор морщился… К перекладине он не вышел вообще, даже не размялся, хотя и надел в последний момент накладки. Хотел попробовать себя в вольных, но подбежал врач соревнований — запретил.
Потом я выяснил, что у Виктора защемило мышцу плеча, произошло что-то вроде временной атрофии. А уж совсем поздно вечером я разговаривал с известным в прошлом болгарским гимнастом, многократным — чемпионом страны Николой Продановым, и он мне сказал: «Думаю, это нервное, думаю он слишком старался и какой-то нерв перегорел, как нить лампочки».

Safronov competed his full-twisting Tsukahara.

Our other gymnasts performed great that evening. Safronov, who made a perfect “tsukahara” vault with a 360-degree turn, and, as this time he was not the first one to go, immediately raised his score to 9.7.

Sovetsky Sport, no. 252, 1974

Остальные наши в тот вечер выглядели отлично — и Сафронов, который блеснул прыжком «цукахара» с поворотом на 360 градусов, и, не будучи «забойщиком», сразу поднял оценку до 9,7.

Note: Safronov competed the vault at the 1973 University Games, and while the vault is ultimately known as a Kasamatsu, Kasamatsu was not the only gymnast to perform this vault at the 1974 World Championships.

Safronov, full-twisting Tsukahara, Competition 1b

Video from Hardy Fink

East Germany

Before the competition started, Köste tore his Achilles tendon.

Klaus Köste, the vault champion of the Munich Olympics, was seriously injured at the GDR training. He had an Achilles tendon rupture, which will presumably end his career for good.

Népsport, October 20, 1974

A főpróba krónikájához tartozik azonban a pénteki edzés két szomorú eseménye: az NDK edzésén a nagy esélyes Klaus Köste, a müncheni olimpia lóugrásbajnoka súlyosan megsérült. Achillesín-szakadást szenvedett, alighanem végérvényesen búcsút kell mondania pályafutásának.

Note: Köste had planned to retire but came back.

Bernd Jäger debuted his famous release.

I remember the original and bold element on the horizontal bar performed by B. Jäger – a forward somersault with legs apart in a hanging position.

Sovetsky Sport, no. 252, 1974

Запомнился оригинальный и смелый элемент на перекладине в исполнении Б. Егера — сальто вперед ноги врозь в вис. 

Reminder: Karin Janz performed essentially a Jäger salto at the 1972 Olympics. However, since the bars were not wide enough to do giants, she performed her skill from a belly beat. In fact, Janz’s salto was the inspiration for Jäger’s release on high bar:

Bernd Jäger’s coach Richard Karstedt in Potsdam had the idea to transfer the “Janz roll”, which was presented by the Olympic Champion 1972 (Munich) Karin Janz on uneven bars during her gold routine, to the high bar.

Source: Gymmedia
The Jäger salto, performed during Event Finals (Competition III)

Video from Hardy Fink

Here’s more about Jäger’s routine:

Bernd Jäger, in terms of originality, must be ranked first in terms of risk-taking and virtuosity in his optional routine. He received a lot of applause for his spectacular start – under-swing, back-swing and a straddle salto forward – an element that certainly deserves the term “Jäger’s Salto.” But even the other exercises are of great difficulty, e.g. the Skoumal giant [i.e. giant swing backward with inlocation during the swing] with a ½ turn as well as the dismount of a full-twisting somersault and immediately followed by a backward somersault. 6 C and 2 B parts — a condensation of difficult and most difficult elements and connections, which, however, still lack the final touch in terms of execution and elegance of the performance.

Neues Deutsches Turnen, No. 12, 1974

Von Bernd Jäger muß man sagen, daß er hinsichtlich von Originalität, Risikoreichtum und Virtuosität in seiner Reck-kür an vorderster Stelle einzuordnen ist. Viel Beifall erhielt er für den spektakulären Angang — Unterschwung, Rückschwung und gegrätschter Salto vorwärts — ein Element, das sicher zu Recht den Begriff „Jägersalto“ verdient. Aber auch die übrigen Übungsteile sind von hoher Schwierigkeit, u. a. die Skoumal-Riesenfelge mit direkter Auflösung in die Schlußgriffdrehung [½ turn] sowie der Abgang gestreckter Überschlag rückwärts mit 1/1 Drehung und sofort anschließendem Salto rückwärts gehockt. 6 C- und 2 B-Teile — eine Verdichtung schwieriger und schwierigster Elemente und Verbindungen, denen allerdings hinsichtlich der Ausführung und der Eleganz der Darbietung noch der letzte Pfiff fehlt.

Lutz Mack competed a handspring front pike, a rare vault at the time:

Alongside Bernd Jäger, Rainer Hanschke was one of the most successful “newcomers” in the World Cup team. Both of them made the jump to apparatus finals straight away – a respectable result! Lutz Mack, who had the difficult but necessary task of being the lead-off man on most of the apparatus, deserves praise as well. For his handspring with a piked somersault, he got the best vault score for our team with 9.70 points.

Neues Deutsches Turnen, No. 12, 1974

Neben Bernd Jäger war Rainer Hanschke einer der erfolgreichsten „Neulinge“ in der WM-Mannschaft. Beide, schafften auf Anhieb den Sprung ins Gerätefinale — ein respektables Ergebnis! Lutz Mack, der die schwierige, aber notwendige Aufgabe des Startmanns an den meisten Geräten hatte, verdient ebenso Lob. Für seinen Überschlag mit anschließendem gebückten Salto kam er mit 9,70 Punkten immerhin auf die beste Pferdsprungnote für unsere Mannschaft.

The East German team was proud of their performance. They were especially proud to narrow the gap between their team and the Soviets.

“Without their captain Köste, our GDR squad showed a performance worthy of respect,” said DTV General Secretary Peter Dobbertin after the end of the competition. “I would particularly like to emphasize Thüne (third in the individual classification with 56.75 points), Bernd Jäger (ninth with 56.10) and our substitute gymnast Große (he scored five times),” added GDR coach Peter Weber. The gap to the Soviet squad has never been so narrow. With a 9.70 on high bar, Thüne also created a good starting position for the final on this apparatus. “Everyone in our great squad gave their best,” said the captain, who was brought in at short notice.

Berliner Zeitung, October 24, 1974

„Unsere DDR-Riege zeigte ohne ihren Kapitän Köste eine Pflicht, die Hochachtung verdiente”, meinte DTV-Generalsekretär Peter Dobbertin nach Abschluß der Wettkämpfe. „Besonders Thüne (im Einzelklassement mit 56,75 Punkten Dritter), Bernd Jäger (mit 56,10 Neunter) und unseren Ersatzturner Große (fünfmal kam er in der Wertung) möchte ich hervorheben”, ergänzte DDR-Trainer Peter Weber. Der Abstand zur sowjetischen Riege war noch nie so knapp. Mit einer 9,70 am Reck schuf sich Thüne auch eine gute Ausgangsposition für das Finale an diesem Gerät.

But there were areas for improvement.

Without evaluating Wolfgang [Thüne’s] achievements, however, it must be noted that his program, seen from the point of view of difficulty, is still not enough. A prime example of this is probably his high bar routine. In spite of the elegance of the performance, he scored “only” 9.70 points – too little for a clear favorite position in the apparatus final!

Neues Deutsches Turnen, No. 12, 1974

Ohne Wolfgangs Leistungen at werten, muß aber zugleich festgestellt werden, daß sein Programm, von den Schwierigkeiten her gesehen, noch nicht ausreicht. Ein Musterbeispiel hierfür ist wohl seine Reckübung. Trotz der Eleganz der Darbietung erturnte er hier „nur“ 9,70 Punkte — zu wenig für eine klare Favoritenstellung im Gerätefinale!


Hungary was very pleased with its fourth-place finish.

[T]he Japanese team — although they only had five men due to Katō’s injury — but their world championship was never a question. The Soviets made a better impression than in the mandatory exercises and left the GDR team behind. These three teams had their own competition. After them there was a ten point ‘gap’. But for our pride and joy Hungary was the one following them.

Népsport, October 25, 1974

Változás itt természetesen nem volt, a japán csapat — bár végül Katósérülése miatt csak öt emberrel küzdött —, biztosan lett világbajnok. A szovjetek most jobb benyomást keltettek, mint a kötelezőben és elhúztak az NDK-beliektől. Ez a három csapat külön versenyt vívott, mögöttük közel tízpontos „űr” következett, de az üldöző boly élén büszkeségünkre és örömünkre Magyarország csapata állt.

Their fourth-place finish came with a dramatic ending. On the last event, it seemed like Hungary might lose its place in the standings when Magyar’s hand slipped out of the rings.

In the final round of the team competition, the Hungarian gymnasts were set to compete on the rings, with fourth place hanging in the balance. We had already managed to surpass the [West] Germans, but our lead was tenuous and could only be preserved with a strong team performance on the rings. And then, a tense moment unfolded as one of Zoli Magyar’s hands slipped off the ring, leaving him hanging for a few agonizing seconds…

Népsport, October 27, 1974

A csapatverseny utolsó szelén, a gyűrűn tornásznak a magyarok. A negyedik hely sorsa forog kockán. Már megelőztük az NSZK-belieket, de előnyünk minimális és csak a csapat jó gyűrűátlagával őrizhető meg. És ekkor Magyar Zoli egyik keze lecsúszik a gyűrűről, másodpercekig lóg fél kézen…

Where Hungary stood out was on pommel horse. Both Sivadó and Magyar performing unique elements.

Our dominance in this competition is further illustrated by the fact that, out of the entire routine presented at the World Championships, only two moves were recognized as original by the FIG Technical Committee, and both of them were executed by Hungarian gymnasts (Sivadó and Magyar) on pommel horse.

Népsport, October 30, 1974

Jellemző e szeren fölényünkre, hogy az egész VB-n bemutatott gyakorlatanyagból csak két mozdulatot fogadott el a FIG technikai bizottsága eredetinek: mindkettőt magyar tornász (Sivadó és Magyar) mutatta be a kápás lovon.
The Sivadó travel in podium training

Video from Hardy Fink


Unlike the Romanian women, who struggled on compulsories and excelled at optionals, the Romanian men excelled at compulsories and struggled on optionals.

Regarding the performance of our team, we would like to point out that, during the compulsory program, they competed generally well, being in direct battle with the selected Swiss and U.S. teams for one of the top spots of the ranking! Until the end, Romanian gymnasts ranked 6th, the best of their competitive record, but we have to admit it, with great emotions. On the second day, probably because of an early relaxation, our gymnasts presented the optional exercises with less conviction, with some setbacks, which led to the loss of some extremely precious tenths of a point. But they also missed our direct opponents, so we had the final satisfaction of ranking 6th. Pommel horse, like other times, proved to be the weakest apparatus of our team. Although they had good exercises, the execution of the Romanian gymnasts were deficient, making too many mistakes. Coaches Mircea Radulescu, Costache Gheorghiu and Gheorghe Condovici had the duty to intervene, to find the best training method, so that this apparatus no longer constitutes a “bogeyman” for Romanian gymnasts. To boys and girls, we recommend more attention to the look, general presentation and expressiveness in the contest, items that — as seen — are treated with the utmost seriousness by other teams. We also draw attention to the fact that it is necessary to make vault considerably more difficult, as well as new compositions, of greater effect, on parallel bars.

And one more aspect, related to the look of our gymnasts in a contest of this magnitude. Nicolae Oprescu has the merit of having done a good exercise on pommel horse, in the team competition, thus directly contributing to the good ranking of our representative. But the same gymnast, in the individual all-around, was unrecognizable on this apparatus, becoming really awkward after three-four attempts (failures) to get on the horse, to start his routine. Consequently, he scored a 1.10, obviously the lowest score awarded to any gymnast at world championships! This fact must give pause for thought to both Nicolae Oprescu and his coaches.

Sportul, November 9, 1974

In ce privește evoluția echipei noastre, am dori să subliniem că, la programul impus, ea a concurat în general bine, aflîndu-se în luptă directă cu selecționatele Elveției și S.U.A. pentru unul din locurile fruntașe ale clasamentului! Pînă la urmă, gimnaștii români au ocupat locul 6, cel mai bun din palmaresul lor competițional, dar, trebuie s-o recunoaștem, cu mari emoții. în ziua a doua, probabil din cauza unei deconectări timpurii, gimnaștii noștri au prezentat exercițiile liber alese cu mai puțină convingere, cu oarecari poticneii, situație ce a dus la pierderea unor extrem de prețioase zecimi de punct. Au ratat însă și adversarii noștri direcți, astfel că am avut satisfacția finală a clasării pe locul 6. Calul cu minere, ca și altă dată, s-a dovedit a fi aparatul cel mai slab al echipei noastre. Deși au avut exerciții bune, execuțiile gimnaștilor români au fost deficiente, greșindu-se prea mult. Antrenorii Mircea Rădulescu, Costache Gheorghiu și Gheorghe Condovici au datoria să intervină, să găsească cea mai bună metodică de pregătire, pentru ca acest aparat să nu mai constituie pe viitor o „sperietoare” pentru gimnaștii români. Și băieților (ca și fetelor) le recomandăm mai multă atenție la ținută, prezentare generală și expresivitate in concurs, elemente care — după cum s-a văzut — sunt tratate cu maximă seriozitate de alte echipe. De asemenea, atragem atenția că se impune îngreunarea considerabilă a săriturilor, precum și compoziții noi, de mai mare efect, la paralele. 
Și încă un aspect, legat de ținuta gimnaștilor noștri într-un concurs de asemenea anvergură. Nicolae Oprescu are meritul de a fi făcut un exercițiu bun la cal cu minere, în concursul pe echipe, contribuind astfel în mod direct la clasarea bună a reprezentativei noastre. Dar, același gimnast, în concursul pentru individual compus, a fost de nerecunoscut la acest aparat, devenind de-a dreptul penibil după treipatru încercări (nereușite ! ?) de a se urca pe cal, pentru a-și începe execuția. In consecință, el a fost notat cu 1,10, evident cea mai mică notă acordată vreunui gimnast la campionatele mondiale ! Acest fapt trebuie să dea de gîndit atît lui Nicolae Oprescu, cit și antrenorilor săi. 

Appendix: Assessments of Every Team

Dr. Josef Göhler, Vice President of the West German Gymnastics Federation at the time, wrote a piece for Olympische Turnkunst (no. 12, 1974) that was reprinted in Gymnast magazine (Jan. 1975). In it, he gives quick impressions of each team.

Japan: now as before leader in the world of male gymnastics. High point this time was the parallel bar compulsory exercises, which were performed to the last point of perfection. In optional parallel bar exercises no progress was observed, however the Japanese have also added the side horse to their gymnastic domain. The great discovery: Hiroshi Kajiyama.

USSR; in spite of a muscle injury to Klimenko, a strong team was presented in Varna by the Soviet Union, with much young talent that will make itself noticed by 1976.

DDR; East Germany; After the loss of Klaus Koeste (torn ligament of the heel) no one would have thought that the DDR gymnasts would muster such a good performance, which brought them dangerously close to the USSR. However only at the team competition were the DDR Gymnasts so-strong, at the individual competitions 2 and 3, they dropped behind remarkably.

Hungary; With all respect to the achievement of the quiet young team, Hungary’s 4th place finish must still be marked as quite lucky. Only 0.15 separated the West German gymnasts from the Hungarians. A certain home advantage in the Communists block Bulgaria was not to be overlooked.

West Germany; Eberhard Gienger had two bad days in the team competition and alone lost more than a full point. But his victory in horizontal bar reconciled this hundredfold. The West Germany gymnasts made distinct progress.

Romania; the neighbor of Bulgaria was given so many valuable tenths of points, which the Japanese, the West Germans and the Americans were fighting for in vain. Dan Grecu surpassed his comrades clearly.

Switzerland; without the injured Philippe Gaille the achievement of Jack Gunthard’s team was great. Vock and Arnaboldy exceeded themselves.

USA; being behind Romania and Switzerland by very little is not an expression of weakness. The young USA team could just as well have finished 6th. Quite outstanding were the optional horse performances, scores were higher than at the end at the trials for Varna. A very homogenous young team. Could they only stay together till 1976. It is a pity about John Crosby. He certainly would have brought the team up to the 6th position, thanks to his international reputation. One advice: These able student gymnasts should be more self conscious and take part more often in [E]uropean competitions.

CSSR; the team was too old, there were no great talents, only Tanneberger and Tabac are carrying the hope of a better gymnastic future. The steady Netusil gave a good account of himself.

Poland; since Wilhelm Kubica, because of several injuries, and his younger brother Sylvester, because of a torn ligament of the heel, left the gymnastic arena. Poland, fourth at the Olympic games 1972 in Munich, disappeared from the upper middle field of the gymnastic Nations. Szajna certainly had Japanese form.

France; with Henry Boerio and the 18 year old Boutard, France will be heard from during the next two years.

The Japanese Okamura, Olympic Gymnast of 1972, was evidently a very positive example. Also there was not a tenth of a point given to the French; since they competed very early, they had to overcome specially strict critics. Judges who were not yet tired or even indifferent.

Bulgaria; the team was too weak, to place well even with the great and distinct home advantage. In direct comparison, the Bulgarian gymnasts were mostly weaker than the gymnasts from Yugoslavia, that since the resignation of Ceras and Brodniks sank down to insignificance. Boris  Gregorka, Ceras discoverer and promoter, is hurt most by this collapse.

Italy; the team had to renounce Montesi and had an injured Alberto Zucca, which cost them over 3 points. Worse was, that Milanetto otherwise a gymnast in the European class, totally missed his optional exercises.

Great Britain; the upward trend of the gymnastics in England continues. Young gymnasts, brave gymnasts. But Montreal 1976 will most likely be closed tor the team. Since only 12 teams are permitted there. But Nick Stuart has not given up Yet.

South Korea; this team was very disappointing. No one mastered the compulsory exercises. The Koreans only kept up in optionals, but stayed far behind their achievement at Teheran (Asiatic Games) where they had reached 272.60 with about the same effort, and with about the same gymnasts. In Varna they got 267.75 points.

Canada; compulsories about 17 points weaker than optionals. The easier compulsory exercises for Montreal are a good foundation for a jump to the front, but to become one of the first 12 will be hard. But a young team indeed, leaves much room for hope.

Finland; the Olympic winner from 1948 came with a weak team, lost in training champion Nissenen and at the competition still Heinonen, so that only four could get thru the exercises. As long as there is no training center in Finland where one could practice daily, there will be no Finnish champion gymnasts. Nissinen keeps his gymnastics thru practice in West Germany.

More on 1974

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.