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1972 Hungary MAG WAG

1972: Békési and Molnár Win the Hungarian Masters Championships

At the 1972 Hungarian Masters Championships, Ilona Békési won her second straight all-around title, and Imre Molnár won his third straight title. Zoltán Magyar, who would later become known as the greatest pommel horse worker of the 1970s, had a rough competition, especially on pommel horse.

In this post, you’ll find the results from the championships, as well as the newspaper articles covering the men’s and women’s all-around competitions. As far as I know, there aren’t videos of the competition online, so you’ll have the experience of a gymnastics fan who had to read about what happened in the newspapers.

Molnár (left) and Békési (upper right), Képes Sport, June 13, 1972
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1972 East Germany Interviews & Profiles WAG

1972: The Artist on the Beam — A Profile of Erika Zuchold

Erika Zuchold was an integral part of East Germany’s rise in women’s gymnastics. She missed the 1964 Olympics due to an Achilles tear, but when she returned to competition, she was one of the leaders of the German team at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.

Zuchold earned a total of 10 World and Olympic medals. She was known for her impressive Yamashita on vault and is often credited as the first gymnast to perform a back handspring on beam. Today’s fans know her because her name lives on in the Code of Points for the Zuchold transition on uneven bars.

Zuchold’s Yamashita, 1970 World Championships
You can see the Zuchold transition at the 0:16 mark in the video above (from the 1972 all-around final).

At the 1970 World Championships, Zuchold came back from a meniscus tear (and “other complicated injuries”) and won gold on both vault and beam.

As you’ll see below, she was also a lover of ice cream. 

What follows is a profile of Zuchold that ran in Neue Zeit right before the Olympic Games.

Erika Zuchold, 1972 Olympic Games, Copyright: imago/Werner Schulze
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1972 East Germany MAG WAG

1972: Janz and Köste Win the All-Around at the East German Championships

Four months before the Olympic Games, East Germany held its national championships. As expected, Karin Janz and Klaus Köste won the all-around titles. Behind them, you could see the Olympic team starting to take shape.

Let’s take a look at the results and reports on the 1972 East German Championships…

Klaus Köste DDR-Mehrkampfmeister im Turnen. Photographer: Liebers Copyright: ADN-ZB

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L0420-0024 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons
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1972 Interviews & Profiles MAG USSR

1972: An Interview with Edvard Mikaelian, Armenian Gymnast and Fan of Jimi Hendrix

Edvard Mikaelian was part of the Soviet teams that finished second at the 1972 Olympics and 1974 World Championships. In the lead-up to the Munich Olympics, he finished sixth at the USSR Championships and fourth at the USSR Cup. At the Olympics, he tied for 20th in the all-around.

The following interview, printed in the Czechoslovak weekly Stadión, fleshes out the character of one of the lesser-known members of the Soviet men’s team. It portrays him as a trendy, fashionable citizen of the world, who loved both ballet and American rock and roll, including the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and, of all things, the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Stadión, May 9, 1972

Note: This profile includes an anecdote that would no longer be socially acceptable to print today.

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1972 MAG Riga International WAG

1972: Korbut and Andrianov Win the Riga International

The Riga International was one of the big competitions early in the 1972 competitive season. It allowed gymnasts to try out the compulsory routines in an international setting and test new elements.

On the women’s side, Korbut swept all five gold medals while performing many of the skills that would captivate the world in Munich. (Unfortunately, her struggles on bars continued.) Plus, Bogdanova (URS) performed one of the first double fulls off beam, while Gehrke (GDR) performed one of the first Tsukahara vaults in women’s artistic gymnastics. 

On the men’s side, Tsukahara unveiled a new dismount off high bar: a full-twisting double back. And Zoltán Magyar performed his famous travel on pommel horse.

Here’s what else happened at the 1972 Riga International…

A medal from the Riga International
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1972 Interviews & Profiles MAG USSR WAG

1972: Profiles of Tourischeva and Andrianov after the USSR Championships

The USSR Championships were the first major domestic challenge for the Soviet gymnasts on the road to Munich, and they were full of surprises. 

Nikolai Andrianov, who was third at the 1971 European Championships, won the all-around, defeating both Voronin and Klimenko. But on the second day of competition, which didn’t count toward his all-around total, he found himself sitting on the parallel bars.

And Ludmilla Tourischeva finally won the all-around title at the USSR Championships. Yes, she had won both the European and World all-around titles before she won the USSR Championships. (She had won the USSR Cup in 1969 and 1971.) She, too, had a major error during the competition.

Afterward, the Soviet media produced video profiles of both champions. You can find the videos, transcripts, and translations below.

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1972 MAG USSR

1972: Andrianov Wins the Men’s Competition at the USSR Championships

At the 1971 European Championships, Nikolai Andrianov finished third behind Viktor Klimenko (first) and Mikhail Voronin (second). One year later, the momentum had changed. Not only did Andrianov beat Klimenko and Voronin; he dominated the competition, winning by 1.70 points. (To be fair, Klimenko was still recovering from an Achilles tear that happened on floor during warm-ups at the European Championships.)

That said, there were still plenty of mistakes that needed to be fixed before the Munich Olympics, and Andrianov was not immune to the falling contagion that spread throughout the gym in Kyiv. As one newspaper put it, “Kolya Andrianov was sitting on parallel bars, as if on a fence, and smiling in a childish way, as if he was not a master of international class.”

So, here’s the coverage of the men’s competition at the 1972 USSR Championships.

Note: You can read a preview of the competition here.

Nikolai Andrianov, 1972, Hamburg, West Germany
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1972 USSR WAG

1972: Tourischeva Wins the Women’s Competition at the USSR Championships

The USSR Championships were early in the 1972 competitive season, and as one would expect, Soviet gymnasts were not in top form. Tourischeva and Lazakovich had problems with their compulsory beam routines. Olga Korbut’s problems on bars continued; she hit her feet on a glide swing during the compulsory bar routine.

Nevertheless, despite the problems, Polina Astakhova, who would be on the floor with the Soviet gymnasts in Munich, had “a quite positive general impression.”

Below, you can find the results, as well as Sovetsky Sport’s coverage of the women’s competition at the 1972 USSR Championships.

An interesting tidbit: Tourischeva performed two different floor routines during the USSR Championships. One routine was to “Glory” by Glinka. The other was to a song from the 1944 German movie The Woman of My Dreams. She would use the latter in Munich.

Another tidbit: Elvira Saadi was called “The Panther” by the French, and her arm choreography was her signature as was her ability to feel the “subtleties of the tragic jester’s soul” while performing to Rachmaninoff’s “Polichinelle.”

Tourischeva and Olga Korbut, 1972, Competition between the USSR, Canada, and West Germany

Note: You can read a preview of the competition here.

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1972 MAG USSR WAG

1972: A Preview of the USSR Championships

In the lead-up to the 1972 Olympics, the first big test for Soviet gymnasts was the USSR Championships, held in Kyiv at the end of March and the beginning of April.

Tourischeva and Lazakovich were the clear favorites on the women’s side, but people were eager to see if gymnasts from the 1968 Olympics like Karaseva and Voronina could hang on. Dronova, another aspirant for the Olympic Team, was still recovering from an injury.

There were three clear frontrunners on the men’s side: Klimenko, Voronin, and Andrianov.

Here’s a short preview of the competition.

Nikolai Andrianov, 1972, Hamburg, Germany

Reminder: The USSR Championships and the USSR Cup were two separate competitions. Both competitions were held in the lead-up to the 1972 Olympics.

Note: Korbut is not mentioned in the article. In her autobiography My Story, Korbut posits that Stanislav Tokarev, the author of this article, did not appreciate her gymnastics prior to the Munich Olympics.

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1972 East Germany USSR WAG

1972: The East German Women’s Team Defeats the Soviet Team before Munich

In October of 1971, just days after the European Championships, the Soviet Union and the East German gymnasts faced off. The Soviet Union won, and Olga Korbut won the all-around. 

A few months later, in March of 1972, the two teams held another dual meet. This time, the East German team won, and Karin Janz won the all-around.

Ludmilla Tourischeva was absent, and reportedly, Olga Korbut had to withdraw due to injury. Nevertheless, the East German press was excited about this victory during an Olympic year, especially the team’s progress on floor exercise.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

Janz, 1972 Summer Olympics, Date: 31.08.1972 Copyright: imago/Sven Simon