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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)
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1968 Compulsories MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Compulsories Competition in Mexico City

When we think of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, we think of the questionable judging in women’s gymnastics and the political protest of Věra Čáslavská on the podium after the floor finals.

Over the years, a piece of FIG gossip has been forgotten. It happened after the men’s compulsories. Arthur Gander, the FIG president, threatened to ban a coach from competition.

So, let’s dive into the men’s compulsories, eh?

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 22: Mikhail Voronin of the Soviet Union competes in the Rings of the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Team Compulsory during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 22, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 Olympics

1968: The Tlatelolco Massacre and the Prague Spring

In Věra ‘68, Čáslavská returned to the National Auditorium in Mexico City, the place where she won four gold medals. While there, the tour guide said:

[Čáslavská] was an icon for us. We felt she was one of us, because at that time, in both our countries, there were student uprisings. That is why she was so dear to us. The fact that she won — it strengthened the bond between all the oppressed people. You will always be in our hearts.

During the 1968 Olympic Games, the Czechoslovak athletes meant a lot to a large portion of the Mexican audience. To understand why, you have to understand what happened in Mexico City ten days before the Olympics commenced.

Mexican soldiers reading the newspaper ‘La Prensa’ in the street in Mexico City. Mexico City, October 1968 (Photo by Mario De Biasi;Sergio Del Grande/Mondadori via Getty Images)

The headline reads, “Army’s firefight with students.”
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1968 Age USSR WAG

1968: Why Is the Soviet Union’s National Team So Young?

Why is our national team suddenly so young? It seems to be a recurring question in the Soviet press in the late 1960s, and there were several explanations.

In an article from 1967, one writer suggested that it’s because the Soviet Union was trying to keep pace with the likes of Věra Čáslavská, who made her international debut at the age of 16 at the 1958 World Championships in Moscow.

The articles from 1968 told a different story.

In the first article below, the explanation will sound more familiar to today’s gym nerds. It has to do with the presumed innocence and naïveté of female gymnasts before they reach adulthood.

In the second article, Larisa Latynina offers a slightly different rendition of the rise of the teenage gymnast.

And finally, we’ll take a look at an Estonian article about Larisa Petrik and what she reportedly did with her pigtails.