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1948 Olympics WAG

1948: The Women’s Rules and Apparatus Norms for the London Olympics

1948 was a different time in women’s gymnastics. 15 points as the maximum score for optional routines. Flying rings. Ensemble exercises. No all-around competition.

Let’s take a look at the rules.

Cissie Davies of Great Britain on the balancing bar, during the Summer Olympic Games gymnastics event (transferred from the Wembley Stadium) at the Empress Hall, Earl’s Court in London, United Kingdom on August 12, 1948. Eleven countries have entered the women’s team competition. The competition is carried out on similar lines to the men’s and comprises voluntary and compulsory exercises on swinging ring and beam, and springboard vaults over the pommel-horse. (AP Photo)
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1948 Olympics Sokols

1948: The Political Defection of Marie Provazníková, President of the FIG WTC

It’s no secret that Marie Provazníková of Czecholoslovakia was one of the first known political defectors at an Olympic Games.

However, what has been lost over the years is the context of her defection, particularly the role that gymnastics played in her desire to seek political asylum.

So, let’s take a closer look at her story, starting with the Sokols in the 1940s.

Marie Provaznikova, leader of the Czech women’s Olympic team, joining a group of six other Czechoslovakian and two Hungarian Olympic performers who have refused to return to their homelands, declared in London, Aug. 18, 1948, “I am a political refugee and proud of it.” She told reporters in London: “When I left Czechoslovakia I did not intend to return. I am a member of the Benes party.” She said she plans to get a physical education job in the U.S. (AP Photo/John Rider-Rider)

Note: On August 16, 1948, the Dutch newspaper Het nieuws, like the AP, reported that there were other defectors at the Olympics.
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19th Century France Sokols

1889: Czech Gymnasts at the Fête Fédérale Française de Gymnastique

Even before the first modern Olympics in 1896 and even before the first World Championships in 1903, Czech gymnasts had proven themselves to be among the top teams in Europe.

Today, we’ll dive into one competition: the 1889 Fête Fédérale Française de Gymnastique (French Federal Festival of Gymnastics) in Paris.

This competition became a source of pride for the Czech and Slovak Sokols in the twentieth century.

A selection of the medals awarded. From: Sokol: časopis zájmům tělocvičným věnovaný, 15.7, 1889
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1968 Gym Nerd Trivia Olympics

1968: Gym Nerd Quiz about the Olympics

If you’re reading this site, you’re a gym nerd at heart. Now, it’s time to see just how much of a gym nerd you are. Take the quiz below to find out.

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1968 Olympics WAG

1968: The Women’s Event Finals in Mexico City

History is a matter of perspective, and so are gymnastics results. As we’ll see, the women’s event finals were highly contested at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

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1968 Olympics WAG

1968: The Women’s Optionals Competition in Mexico City

On Wednesday, October 23, 1968, the women competed in the optionals portion of the competition. As far as gold medals were concerned, there weren’t any surprises. The Soviet team was leading after the compulsories, and they ended up with gold. Čáslavská was leading the all-around after compulsories, and she won gold.

But the competition had its fair share of drama, especially on the podium. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Czech Vera Caslavska performs her routine on the beam at the Olympic Games in Mexico, on October 23 1968. The Czech gymnast won the all around individual title in gymnastics competition in Mexico City. Vera Caslavska, one of the most titled gymnast switched from ice skating to gymnastics as a 15 year-old, and went on to win 22 Olympic, World and European titles. She won three Olympic gold medals in 1964, and four in 1968. (Photo by – / EPU / AFP) (Photo by -/EPU/AFP via Getty Images)
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1968 Code of Points Judging Controversy Olympics WAG

1968: Věra Čáslavská’s Beam Score and the Problems with Judging

Čáslavská’s beam routine during the optionals portion of the (1B) competition caused quite the stir.

Here are the basics:

  • Čáslavská received a 9.65 for her beam routine.
  • The crowd protested for over 10 minutes.
  • Her beam score was raised to a 9.80 after Berthe Villancher, the president of the Women’s Technical Committee, interceded.

There was a lot on the line. These scores counted towards:

  • The team standings
  • The all-around standings, which was the sum of a gymnast’s compulsory and optionals scores
  • Qualifying for event finals
  • A gymnast’s event finals score, which was the average of her compulsory and optionals scores + her event finals score

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and discuss how this one routine illustrated so much of the judging dysfunction that existed in the 1960s.

Čáslavská, 1968 Olympics
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1968 Olympics WAG

1968: The Women’s Compulsories Competition in Mexico City

On Monday, October 21, 1968, the women’s compulsories opened the gymnastics competition at the Olympics in Mexico City.

And, as we’ll see, the crowd was very invested in the competition.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 21: Natalia Kuchinskaya of the Soviet Union competes in the balance beam of the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team compulsory during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 21, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Event Finals in Mexico City

In 1968, the men’s event finals took place on Saturday, October 26, the very last day of competition at the Olympic Games.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 26: (L to R) Silver medalist Noriaki Nakayama, gold medalist Sawao Kato and bronze medalist Takeshi Kato of Japan celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Floor apparatus final during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 26, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Optionals Competition in Mexico City

The Swiss newspaper L’Express summarized it best:

Until the last moment, it was impossible to predict who would win the individual all-around victory. However, since the start of the evening, it was certain that the Japanese would win the team competition.

Jusqu’au dernier moment, il était impossible de prédire à qui irait la victoire individuelle. Par contre, depuis le début de la soirée, il était certain que les Japonais l’emporteraient par équipes.

L’Express, Saturday, October 26, 1968

Let’s take a look at what happened.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 24: Sawao Kato of Japan competes in the Floor of the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Individual All-Around final during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 24, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)