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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 Code of Points WAG

1968: Villancher’s Commentary on the Women’s Code of Points

In 1968, the Women’s Technical Committee President Berthe Villancher visited the United States. During her tour, she explained the 1968 Code of Points. This included her unwritten rules and preferences.

Let’s take a look at what she said.

Note: Villancher’s comments have been filtered through Jackie Uphues, who chronicled Villancher’s time in the United States for Mademoiselle Gymnast May/June 1968. (Jackie Uphues might be better known as Jackie Fie to some readers.)

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from Mademoiselle Gymnast May/June 1968.

100 Years of the FIG
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1968 Code of Points WAG

1968: The Women’s Code of Points

The 1968 Code of Points was to be ready by May 1, 1968. Opening ceremonies for the 1968 Olympics were set for October 12, 1968. That’s not a lot of time to read the Code and adjust routines.

Thankfully, compared to the men’s Code, the women’s Code was much shorter. Let’s take a look at some of the most salient parts.

The 1968 Women’s Code of Points
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1968 Code of Points MAG

1968: The Men’s Code of Points

The 1968 men’s Code of Points exploded. 

Gymnastics was quickly evolving, and the Men’s Technical Committee was trying to be more prescriptive on what they wanted to see and in which direction they wanted the sport to go.

I’ll do my best to give you the CliffsNotes version of a 194-page document.

The 1968 Code of Points
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1949 Code of Points

1949: The Very First Men’s Code of Points

Gym nerds have heard of a magical 12-page Code of Points. But few have seen it.

Well, good news: We, the gymternet, now have it in our possession thanks to Kathi-Sue Rupp and Hardy Fink. 

A lot of gymnastics history goes back to the very first Code of Points from 1949.

For example, why do we call it a perfect 10? 

Because the 1949 Code of Points called it “exécution parfaite” (“perfect execution”). (Though, the phrase “exécution parfaite” had been used in previous rules, including the ones in place in 1924, during the first perfect 10 in Olympic history.)

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1964 Code of Points Judging Controversy Olympics Perfect 10

1964: Questioning the 10.0 Again

A quick recap: At the 1964 Olympics, Endo Yukio won the all-around competition after a questionable pommel horse routine. He had 3 major breaks during his routine. Yet, he received a 9.10, and gymnastics fans were outraged about the overscoring.

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1964 Code of Points MAG

1964: The Men’s Code of Points

Leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, the FIG republished its Code of Points. You can download the entire 1964 Code of Points at the bottom of this post.

Here are a few of the highlights.

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1962 Code of Points Perfect 10

1962: Questioning the 10.0

A quick recap: The event finals in Prague were delayed 30 minutes because the crowd protested Cerar’s score. They thought that Cerar of Yugoslavia should have scored higher than Shakhlin of the Soviet Union.

After a long conference, the judges raised Cerar’s score from a 9.8 to a 9.9, giving him the gold medal in the event.

Here’s a letter to the editor of the Modern Gymnast in response. It’s the one called “Subjective” at the bottom of the first column. (The letter about the judging “computer” is also fun.)