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1928 MAG Olympics Perfect 10

1928: A Costly Math Error during the Men’s Competition at the Amsterdam Olympics

The men’s competition at the 1928 Olympics was a close battle between Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. It came down to the very last event, vault, on which Czechoslovak gymnast Šupčík fell and on which Swiss gymnast Eugen Mack received a perfect score for his compulsory routine.

Modern gymnastics fans might be surprised to know that one of the countries performed to music. During its ensemble floor routine, Yugoslavia told the history of its nation through music and movement. (Technically, it wasn’t Yugoslavia at the time but rather the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes or SHS for short.)

Of course, there was a fair share of judging drama. It’s gymnastics.

Unfortunately, there were some organizational problems, too. Due to a mathematical error, the wrong person received the bronze medal on rings.

Swiss gymnast Georges Miez (1904-1999) at the 1928 Summer Olympics, held at the Olympisch Stadion (Olympic Stadium) in Amsterdam, Netherlands, August 1928. Miez won gold in the Men’s artistic individual all-around, Men’s artistic team all-around, Men’s horizontal bar, and won silver in the Men’s pommel horse. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
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1928 MAG Olympics

1928: The Rules for Men’s Gymnastics at the Olympic Games

At the Olympic Games prior to 1928, the men competed in track and field events, rope climbing, or even an obstacle course (1920).

The Amsterdam Olympics marked a turning point in men’s gymnastics. For the first time, the athletes competed only on gymnastics apparatus at the Olympic Games. No rope climb. No sprints. No high jump. Just apparatus gymnastics.

However, the Olympic program still hadn’t taken its modern form. In 1928, male gymnasts didn’t perform individual floor routines. They did, however, perform on the floor as an ensemble, and, as we’ll discuss in the next post, the Yugoslav team had a remarkable ensemble routine.

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1928 Olympics WAG

1928: Women Compete in Gymnastics at the Olympics for the First Time

Whereas men competed in gymnastics at the very first Olympic Games in 1896, women had to wait until the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the Official Report provides little commentary on the women’s competition — save for the results, the names of the athletes, and a photo of the French team climbing the double ropes.

But there were newspaper accounts of the events.

In this post, we’ll dive a bit deeper and look at two perspectives: that of the Dutch and that of the French. (The former was written for a general audience, while the latter was written for the gymnastics nerds.)

As we’ll see, there were some glaring issues that needed to be addressed in women’s gymnastics.

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1928 Olympics WAG

1928: Rules for the First Women’s Gymnastics Competition at the Olympic Games

In 1928, women finally competed in gymnastics at the Olympic Games. Previously, they had been allowed to perform exhibitions, but they weren’t part of the competitive program.

The rules for the women’s competition at the 1928 Olympic Games were vague at best. After reading this post, you’ll probably have more questions than answers.

So, here are the rules…

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1925 Olympics

1925: Gymnastics at the First Workers’ Olympiad

Over the years, there have been many versions of the Olympic Games. One version was the International Workers’ Olympiads, which positioned itself in opposition to the “bourgeois” Olympics.

(For a list of Olympics that happened before the 1896 Olympics in Athens, check out this post.)

As I stated in my previous post, the International Workers’ Olympiads gave Swiss women the opportunity to compete internationally at a time when the FIG didn’t allow women to compete. (At the Olympic level, women first competed in gymnastics at the 1928 Olympics.)

So, let’s take a look at what happened at the First International Workers’ Olympiads in 1925.

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Switzerland WAG

1950: The Impetus for Competitive Women’s Gymnastics in Switzerland

In recent posts, we’ve talked a lot about the Swiss men, but we haven’t said much about the Swiss women. Even though Switzerland hosted the 1950 World Championships, the federation did not send any women. As the writer in Gazette de Lausanne noted:

The reason is that the leaders of our federation do not want to put our ladies in competition, considering that the latter is not reserved for representatives of the weaker sex. Are they wrong, are they right?

Gazette de Lausanne, July 18, 1950

La cause en est que les dirigeants de notre fédération ne veulent pas’ mettre nos dames en compétition, estimant que cette dernière n’est pas réservée aux représentantes du sexe faible. Ont-ils tort, ont-ils raison?

Intrigued, I looked into when and how the Swiss women were finally allowed to compete in gymnastics internationally. It turns out that the story is more complicated than it’s normally presented.

For starters, women’s artistic gymnasts from Switzerland had competed internationally before their supposed debut at the World Championships in 1966.

In fact, they had competed at an Olympics—just not the Olympics that you’re probably thinking of.

Mitglied der Kunstturn-Nationalmannschaft Käthi Fritschi 1971 (Photo by Gody Bürkler/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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1950 WAG World Championships

1950: Replacing the Women’s Vault Judges at the World Championships

In 1950, women competed at their third World Championships, and guess what happened.

The vault judges botched the scoring so badly that they had to be replaced.

Who said that old gymnastics meets were boring?

Oh, and unlike the 1934 and 1938 World Championships, the competitors did not compete in track and field events in 1950. (The men did.)

Helena Rakoczy, 1950
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1950 WAG World Championships

1950: The Women’s Rules for the World Championships

While the men had a Code of Points in place for the 1950 World Championships, the women did not. But they did have a book of General Instructions. What follows are the highlights.

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1950 MAG Perfect 10 World Championships

1950: A Perfect 10 in the Men’s Competition at the World Championships

In 1950, Hans Eugster scored a perfect 10 on the parallel bars at the World Championships. It was the first 10 under the very first men’s Code of Points (1949)

The competition wasn’t without its judging controversies that spilled over into the pages of the French and Swiss newspapers.

Kunstturn-WM in Basel 1950: Barren-Sieger Hans Eugster (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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1950 FIG Bulletin FIG Congress

1950: The 29th FIG Congress and the Attempt to Get Rid of Pommel Horse

Do you wish that pommel horse weren’t a part of men’s artistic gymnastics? If Sweden had its way in 1950, the apparatus would be gone.

Do you wish that men would use floor music? Hungary and Poland wanted that to happen in 1950.

Do you wish that women still competed on flying rings? Well, you have several federations to blame for that.

Oh, and you have Hungary to thank for the size of today’s floor exercise.

Let’s dive into the details of the 1950 FIG Congress.