In 1958, before the World Championships in Moscow, the Code of Points for men’s gymnastics was updated again. By and large, this version of the Code combined the 1949 Code of Points and the 1954 supplement in one single document.
That said, there were a few changes in the 1958 Code of Points. Below, you’ll find a summary of the major changes, as well as the original French text, as printed in the magazine Le Gymnaste, May 1958. Thanks to the Bibliothèque nationale de France for the documents.
In the penultimate chapter of his autobiography, Boris Shakhlin takes us from the 1958 World Championships in Moscow to the 1966 World Championships in Dortmund. Along the way, he gives us a glimpse into his tactics as a competitor — ways that he and his teammates tried to throw their competitors off their game. He also shares little tidbits of information. For example, did you know that Soviet athletes received one cake for each gold medal that they won?
Here’s a translation of the fourth chapter of Shakhlin’s book.
In 1972, Věra Čáslavská published her autobiography, The Road to Olympus (Cesta na Olymp). It provides a detailed recounting of her early days through the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
As a child, Čáslavská was a mischievous and funny child. Though a performer at heart, she struggled with stage fright until her mother helped her work through it, and as an adult, she came to see it as an asset.
Čáslavská started with ballet, then added ice skating, and finally found gymnastics. Initially, she trained under Czechoslovak gymnastics legend Eva Bosáková, and when Bosáková was away with the national team, Čáslavská used to sneak into the gym to train. Given her relationship with Bosáková, Čáslavská found it difficult to beat her mentor.
From the start, the international crowd loved Čáslavská. At the age of 16, during her first World Championships in 1958, Čáslavská wowed the audience in Moscow — so much so that the public demanded a performance by Čáslavská, even though she didn’t make the floor finals.
Below, I’ve translated sections of Čáslavská’s autobiography, tracing her early years in sports through to her first World Championships in Moscow in 1958.
Almost 10 years later, in 1958, the Women’s Technical Committee published its first Code of Points.
Of course, women’s gymnastics had rules before this. But this was the first official Code of Points, and as we’ll see, the rules for women’s artistic gymnastics had developed a lot since female gymnasts first competed at the Olympics in 1928.
While Olga Korbut and Nadia Comăneci are often credited with ushering in the era of teenage gymnasts, that’s not the origin story that circulated in the Soviet Union in the 1960s.
Back story: The Soviet Union had relied on adult women in their 20s and 30s for their gymnastics teams. At the 1958 World Championships, their youngest gymnasts were 21 (Astakhova and Kalinina). Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, brought a teenager who had star power.
Čáslavská’s debut: In 1958, 16-year-old Věra Čáslavská made her international debut, winning a team silver at the World Championships in Moscow. And, as the tale goes, it was in that moment that the Čáslavská piqued the interest of the spectators and Soviet coaches alike.
What follows is a translation of a May 20, 1967 article from Неделя (Nedelia), which was the Sunday supplement to Известия (Izvestii︠a︡). (Thanks to Nico for his assistance with the translation.)