1970 1971 Age FIG Bulletin FIG Congress WAG

1970: Setting the Age Limit for WAG at 14

In 1970, the Women’s Technical Committee set the competitive age limit at 14. One year later, they issued an explanation of sorts. It included a warning to members, recognizing that abusive methods were leaving child gymnasts damaged. By setting the age limit at 14, their hope was to see more “mature work” that displayed a “woman’s charm.”

Here’s what was recorded in the 1971 FIG bulletins about the question of age in women’s artistic gymnastics.

1970 Universiade WAG

1970: The Women’s Competition at the University Games

After boycotting the 1967 Universiade, the Eastern Bloc returned in 1970, and the Soviets swept the podium, winning team gold and the top three places in the individual all-around. Larisa Petrik, who had tied Čáslavská for gold on floor at the 1968 Olympics, won the all-around. And, as always, the Soviet gymnasts were idealized for the quality and fluidity of their movements on floor.

But Soviet gymnasts weren’t the only ones who were pushing the envelope at the Universiade in Turin. The Japanese gymnasts were performing twisting vaults, which would become more common at the 1972 Olympics. On beam, the Hungarian gymnasts took risks by performing aerial cartwheels. (To be sure, Korbut had started performing her standing back tuck on beam at smaller competitions in 1969, but no-handed flight elements like saltos and aerials were uncommon at the time. )

What follows are the results, commentary about the competition, and an interview with Tatiana Schegolkova.

Source: Universiade Torino ’70: Giochi mondiali della FISU
1970 MAG Universiade

1970: The Men’s Competition at the University Games

In 1970, the Japanese men won the team competition for the fourth consecutive time and the individual all-around for the fifth consecutive time at the University Games. (There wasn’t a team competition at the 1961 Universiade.)

At the University Games in Turin, one could see that the 1968 Code‘s emphasis on risk, originality, and virtuosity was starting to pay off, as gymnasts were seeking to perform more difficult and original skills. In 1969, there was talk of ditching men’s vault altogether because it had become stale. Then, at the 1970 Universiade, Okamura performed a handspring with a front salto on vault. (A few weeks later, Tsukahara performed his eponymous vault at the World Championships.) On high bar, Straumann did a double tuck over the bar, laying the groundwork for decades of creative dismounts and Kovacs-style releases.

What follows are the results, as well as commentary about the competition.

Source: Universiade Torino ’70: Giochi mondiali della FISU
1970 Japan Universiade

1970: Japan’s Preparation for the University Games

The 1970 University Games fell during the year of the World Championships. Previously, the Universiade was held during the years between the Olympic Games and the World Championships (1961, 1963, 1965, and 1967). However, the 1969 University Games in Portugal fell through, and Turin, Italy, held the competition in 1970.

As a result, Japan had to make a tough decision. Which gymnasts would they send to the University Games? And which ones would they send to the World Championships? They decided not to send the same gymnasts to both.

In Japan’s Official Report on the University Games, Ota Masahide summarized Japan’s preparation for the competition. What follows is a translation…

As you’ll see, adjusting to foreign equipment has been a challenge for decades.

Okamura Teruichi, who won the men’s all-around title at the 1970 University Games
Caption: Okamura’s rings that won the men’s all-around (男子個人総合に優勝した岡村のつり輪)
Source: Japan’s Official Report on the 1970 University Games
1970 East Germany Interviews & Profiles WAG

1970: A Conflicted Portrait of Karin Janz

From 1956 until 1962, Larisa Latynina dominated the all-around at the major international gymnastics competitions. Then, it was Věra Čáslavská’s turn, and she won the major all-around titles from 1964 until 1968.

Once Čáslavská retired from the sport, there was a power vacuum. The title of the world’s best female gymnast was up for grabs. Who would win the all-around title in 1970? Would it be Karin Janz, who won the all-around at the European Championships in 1969?

The gymnastics world had its reservations about Karin Janz. Sure, she had tremendous difficulty, but she lacked “femininity and softness.” Words like “machine” and “mechanical” were often used to describe her gymnastics.

The following profile of Janz, printed in the Czechoslovak magazine Stadión before the 1970 World Championships, summarizes many conflicted sentiments about the East German teenager.

1970 Czechoslovakia WAG

1970: An Interview with the Czechoslovak WAG Coaches before the World Championships

Between the Mexico City Olympics and the Ljubljana World Championships, the Czechoslovak coaching staff had changed. Luděk Martschini was coaching the Swiss women’s team, and long-time head coach Jaroslava Matlochová was coaching in Italy.

Alena Tintěrová was in charge of the women’s program in 1970, and at the training camp before the World Championships, each coach was responsible for a different event. Jaroslav Šťastný, for example, was responsible for floor, while Petr Kouba was responsible for bars.

Here’s what Tintěrová and the other coaches were thinking as they prepared the team for the World Championships in Ljubljana.

1970 Interviews & Profiles MAG USSR

1970: Albert Azaryan Training His Son Eduard

Many expectations are foisted on the children of Olympic gold medalists. Albert Azaryan’s son, Eduard, was no exception. Already in 1970, there were media stories about Azaryan’s 11-year-old son.

Albert Azaryan was best known for his performances on rings, an event he won at the 1954 World Championships, the 1955 European Championships, the 1956 Olympic Games, the 1958 World Championships, and the 1960 Olympic Games.

Though Eduard did not end up winning as many major titles as his father, he was part of the Soviet team that won silver at the 1978 World Championships and gold at the 1980 Olympic Games.

Here’s an article from 1970 on the father-son duo.

1970 Czechoslovakia MAG WAG

1970: The Czechoslovak Championships

1970 was a time of change for the Czechoslovak women’s team. The majority of the gymnasts who won gold at the 1966 World Championships had retired, including Čáslavská. Several of their coaches had also left. Luděk Martschini was coaching the Swiss women’s team, and long-time head coach Jaroslava Matlochová was coaching in Italy.

For the Czechoslovak men, there was some optimism ahead of the World Championships in Ljubljana. After the team finished fourth at the Mexico City Olympics — just 0.05 behind the East Germans — there was some optimism. That said, the Czechoslovak team was going to put together a young, inexperienced team for the 1970 Worlds.

Here’s what was reported in the pages of Stadión after the 1970 Czechoslovak Championships.

1970 USSR

1970: The Buzz around the Voronin Family

Zinaida Voronina (née Druzhinina) and Mikhail Voronin were a gymnastics power couple. When they had a child in 1969, it was an exciting event in the sports world. The press was buzzing with questions, such as: What would the child of two Olympic gymnastics champions be like? Certainly, he would be a gymnast, right? And would Zinaida be able to get back into shape in time for the 1970 World Championships?

Let’s take a look at some of the excitement and speculation surrounding the Voronin family in 1970, both in the Soviet and Czechoslovak media.

Seen after their wedding in the Palace of weddings in Moscow are Soviet gymnasts Mikhail Voronin , all-round world champion, and Zinaida Druzhinina , silver medallist of the European Champsionships. They are seen viewing the capital from the Lenin Hills. 11 August 1967, Russia Federation Copyright: Topfoto
1948 1970 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG

1970: A Profile of Mother Zdena Honsová and Daughter Hana Lišková

Zdena Honsová was part of the Czechoslovak team that won gold at the 1948 Olympic Games. Had there been an all-around competition, Honsová would have won the gold medal in London. She was also part of the Czechoslovak team that took bronze at the 1954 Rome World Championships. (By then, she had married, and her surname was Lišková.)

Twenty years later, Honsová’s daughter, Hana Lišková, was part of the Czechoslovak team that won silver at the Mexico City Olympics and bronze at the Ljubljana World Championships. Her gym was so small that it could not fit a full-size floor exercise mat.

Here’s their story, as told by the Czechoslovak magazine Stadión.