1974 FIG Bulletin MAG WAG World Championships

1974: The FIG’s Reflections on the World Championships in Varna

What did the leaders of the FIG think about the 1974 World Championships?

For starters, none of them was thrilled about having to move the location of the competition. As you’ll see, both presidents of the technical committees and the president of the FIG mentioned the challenge of choosing a host for the 1974 World Championships. (More on that decision here.)

Valerie Nagy, the president of the Women’s Technical Committee, was generally displeased with the level of the gymnasts, writing: “Even without preliminary qualifications, the national federations should have been more severe when making their selections.”

In addition, she didn’t like the direction of balance beam, where she felt that gymnasts were trying to perform too many difficult acrobatic elements, which impacted the flow of the routine.

In that same vein, Arthur Gander, the president of the FIG, railed against the emphasis on risk and difficulty at the expense of execution.

Below, you can find Gander’s comments, as well as those of the MTC and the WTC.

My thought bubble: Yup, this is pretty nerdy stuff, but most people who read this site are pretty nerdy people. 🙂

A little trivia: Did you know that there were three score protests during the men’s competition? Guess how many of those protests were rejected.

Quick Links: MTC | WTC | Gander

The Men’s Technical Committee

Ivan Ivancevic. From: 100 Years of the FIG

The extraordinary FIG Congress held in Montreux on 20th July 1974 definitively decided that the 18th World Championships for artistic gymnastics should be held at Varna in Bulgaria. The TC/FIG authorities together with the technical staff of the local organizatory committee, then commenced the preparatory work. Although there was but little time for preparation, everything was well organized and ready in good time.

Although the beautiful Palais des Sports in Varna was too small for the occasion, we were nevertheless provided with a magnificent spectacle which bore wittness [sic] to the tremendous development achieved in artistic gymnastics throughout the world.

126 gymnasts from 32 countries participated in these competitions. It was noted with pleasure that the distribution of the medals was far from foreseeable than was previously the case. In effect, 8 of the 32 countries participating won medals.

All in all, the judging was good. Three protests were lodged: one by the federation of Cuba for the mark awarded the gymnast, Richard, at the side-horse in competition No. 1 a,  and the others by the Federation of the USSR, the first because of the mark awarded the gymnast, Andrianov, at the horizontal bar in competition 2 and the second because of the mark awarded Martschenko at the parallel bars in Competition No. 3.

The jury of appeal met and refused all three protests after examination of the marks which were found to be absolutely in accordance with the FIG regulations.

There were several accidents in the course of the competitions and one during the judges’ course. After medical examination, these gymnasts were able [to] continue the competition. I believe that the problem of the accidents would be worth the particular attention of the FIG authorities. 

Following the success of these 18th World Championships for artistic gymnastics in Varna, and in my capacity as a representative of the FIG responsible for the technical side of the competitions, I feel obliged to express my gratitude and appreciation to our colleagues of the Bulgarian Gymnastics Federation, and in the first line to Dr. N. Hajdev, secretary general of the organizatory committee. My gratitude also goes to Dr. D. Jordanov, the man in charge of the local supervision of the men’s competitions who was always absolutely on top of his job which demanded great precision and was an ungrateful task, together with his collaborations in the various competition areas, in the computing office, and in the Spartan gymnasium. All the staff employed were competent and merit our congratulations and appreciation.

I should also like to express my thanks to the federations affiliated with the FIG that participated in the Championships at Varna. I should like to thank them for their discipline, their good behaviour, and, quite generally, their sportsmanlike attitude of both trainers and gymnasts during the competitions.

My warmest congratulations go to the winners. But I hope that all the federations that participated in the competitions will undergo satisfactory development in the future.


The chairman of the MTC/FIG: Ivan Ivancevic

“Report of the Chairman of the Men’s Technical Committee (MTC),” FIG Bulletin of Information, no. 1, 1975

From: 100 Years of the FIG

The Women’s Technical Committee

A year full of agitation and problems is now over. An extraordinary meeting of the assembly general had to be convened and, for a long time, we did not know [w]here the 1974 World Championships would be held. This uncertainty naturally caused a great deal of anxiety and the Championships themselves were almost called in question. The meeting in Montreux, from 18th-21st July 1974, decided to hold the Championships in Varna. Preparations had to go ahead very rapidly so that everything should be ready by October. The Federation of Bulgaria and all its collaborators, under the direction of its president, Mr. Hadjev, devoted themselves entirely to this task. It was therefore possible in August 1974, to undertake the drawing of lots for both men and women gymnasts.

In spite of the long uncertainty, the entire year was characterized by the World Championships. Lively activity reigned among the federations and each international meeting became a chance for preparation and a trail of the standard of gymnastics performance.

Judges’ courses in all languages were held in many places. The standard of the examinations for international judges was raised. In order to obtain a licence, the candidates — after having taken part in an official course — had to judge one international competition if its programme included both compulsory and optional exercises, and three competitions if the programme included only the optional exercises. The WTC hopes to be able to reduce these demands by raising the standard of the judges’ courses.

Generally speaking, it can be said that the marking has improved at international competitions. At the World Championships, unfortunately, a tendency to keep the marks as low as possible was observed. Only in the second part of the competition did the judges commence to award “higher” marks. The organization at Varna was good. The impressive gymnasium, the good apparatus, and the crowded seats ensured an appropriate atmosphere for the competitions.

The performances of many gymnasts were not up to the standard of an international competition. Even without preliminary qualifications, the national federations should have been more severe when making their selections.

The performances improved visibly during the second part of the women’s competition. It was with real pleasure that one saw a striving after a good technique, that is to say after better execution of the exercises. During the vault, after the difficult compulsory vault, we witnessed a surprising development. The women, too, attacked their vaults with saltos and turns and, while the flight phases have improved, the landing in general still leaves much to be desired.

We did not see very many innovations apart from the vault where some gymnasts, evincing an excellent technique, demonstrated vaults with turns and saltos, and even, for the first time, with turns in the first phase of the flight. Thus, vaulting becomes richer and more interesting. With an increase in the height of the horse, it is hoped to achieve a general improvement of technique.

In the floor exercises, and among the 8-10 best gymnasts, it is gratifying to see that certain teams are particularly dynamic. The seeking after new elements is manifest here and a striving after a synthesis of modern choreography and modernity of movement, but the attempt was not always succeed [sic].

The choice of music is decisive and demands extensive musical knowledge.

We are not entirely satisfied with the work at the beam. In their endeavours to achieve the utmost difficulty, the gymnasts are tempted to include too many acrobatics in their exercises. This leads to a certain loss of sensitivity, femininity; furthermore, there is a lack of gymnastic links, of attractyive [sic] jumps and above all of a more sure and flowing elegance of execution.

We are getting too far away from the true character of gymnastics at the beam. The character of the floor exercises has merely been transferred to the beam, while forgetting that — on the floor — there is far more opportunity of performing choreographic and gymnastic links where they afford more pure beauty.

We are happy to say, with regard to the uneven bars, that the exercises were as a rule demonstrated with a good dynamic technique and with more confidence. Nothing really new was introduced.

We were not really satisfied with the judging at the World Championships. This opinion was vindicated above all in the case of the teams that worked during the morning which, with a number of very good exercises, failed to achieve the mark of 9. This caused considerable tension and nervousness among the gymnasts and the public. Numerous consultations among the judges failed to help matters and the chief judges should take more decisive action to improve this situation and, in the case of exercises where a gymnast falls, should adhere more closely to the regulations.

In spite of everything, these Championships will long remain in our memories. Everything was extremely well prepared for the competitions; the circumspection and far-sightedness of those in charge of these Championships were exemplary. The hot, sunny weather, the glorious sea in which many of the participants went bathing, afforded these Championships a truly extraordinary setting. One small cloud nevertheless cast a shadow of the palette of beauty offered in Varna: the living expenses were far too high. There was a great deal of varied work for the FIG technical staff.

The compulsory exercises for the next Olympic Games were definitively elaborated and a provisional edition was sent to all the federations. The study committee met twice in ordre [sic] to draft the judges’ brochure. This part of the work has been completed and despatched [sic] to the printer. At the movement, we have completed half of the new Code of Points. The part concerning the bars is finished. Regarding the vault, a more logical classification of the vaults has been established and the value of several more simple vaults has been reduced. This work will continue.

Budapest, 1st January 1974.

Valerie Nagy, chairman of the WTC

“Report for 1974 by the Chairman of the WTC,” FIG Bulletin of Information, no. 1, 1975

Arthur Gander’s Comments

Arthur Gander. From: 100 Years of the FIG

The World Championships for artistic gymnastics in Varna, fixed for the end of October, caused us a great deal of worry and apprehension in addition to a vast amount of preparatory work. In this case too, the government of Bulgaria refused to deliver entry visas to one of the legally affiliated federations because of a policy of racial discrimination pursued byt his government. The consequences and events which, ultimately, caused the meeting of an extraordinary assembly general to be convened for the first time in the annals of the FIG are now past history. The facts, however, are set down in the minutes of the Congress held in Montreux. Let us hope that the federations represented at this year’s meeting of the assembly general will be able to help establish the new statutes which will guarantee in [the] future better mutual understanding in this domain.

According to the reports of the Technical Committees of the FIG, the World Championships of Artistic Gymnastics, held in Varna from 20th to 27th October 1974, went off very positively. We owe our thanks and appreciation to our friends, the Bulgarian gymnasts who, in spite of a most unfortunate interruption in the preparatory work, succeeded in making of this manifestation a very considerable success.

In trying to analyze the events in Varna with regard to the development observed, we should perhaps now ask ourselves if the moment has not now arrived when we should mitigate the trend towards “risk” and “difficulty,” which are rapidly becoming more important than deportment and execution. We should take care that artistic gymnastics do not degenerate into pure acrobatics with risk to life and limb. Erroneous attitudes and deficient execution, particularly in the exits with “landings” on the back or the knees, deriving from parts of improperly mastered parts or links in the exercises, should be abandoned in favour of a faultless execution and deportment which is truly artistic. On the other hand, stance and execution, within the perspective of the development of the difficulty and the risk, should be dominant [as long] as a more confident execution of the imperfectly mastered elements and links remain unassured. Art. 28 of the Code of Points is quite clear on this subject. It appears to be that, in Varna, the exhaustion, the disturbances of rhythm, helth [sic] troubles, etc. were the order of the day and caused relatively numerous accidents. It is our duty to intervene before it becomes too late.

Arthur Gander, “Report of the president of the FIG for the year 1974,” FIG Bulletin of Information, no. 2, 1975

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