1971 Apparatus Norms Code of Points FIG Bulletin MAG

1971: The FIG President’s Thoughts on Men’s Optional Exercises

In a 1971 bulletin, Arthur Gander, who was president of the FIG at the time, published a long series of remarks about the state of optional exercises in men’s gymnastics. Gander’s article touches upon some of the challenges in both men’s and women’s gymnastics that persist to this day.

For example, monotony. Even in the era of risk, originality, and virtuosity, there were certain skills and combinations that had almost become compulsory. (Granted, risk, originality, and virtuosity were still in their infancy at that point.)

Side saltos. Gymnastics fans love to hate on side saltos on beam, and guess what! Arthur Gander didn’t like them, either, on men’s floor!

Value assignments. What constitutes an A, B, or C part? Should such-and-such skill really be a C? Yup, the FIG was wrestling with those questions back in the day, as well.

There’s also the question of nostalgia. As you read Gander’s remarks, you might find yourself wondering, Does Mr. Gander want to see these skills because they would add variety or because they are representative of a different era of gymnastics? And how often does nostalgia for a past era color our view of gymnastics today?

Finally, the fear of the “feminization” of men’s gymnastics. Though Gander believed that men could learn a thing or two from women’s uneven bars, he feared that men’s floor exercise could become too feminine, especially if floor music were included. It’s a question that has been raised as gymnasts like Heath Thorpe (AUS) incorporate more leaps into their floor routines.

Another interesting tidbit: Gander mentions that the IOC was not pleased with men’s vault in 1968, questioning whether the event was worthy of an Olympic medal.

Below, you’ll find my translation of Gander’s remarks. (The FIG provided its own English translation in its bulletin, but the translation was quite rough and difficult to follow.)

1958 Code of Points MAG

1958: The Men’s Code of Points

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.

1954 Code of Points MAG

1954: The Men’s Code of Points

In 1949, the first Code of Points for men’s gymnastics was published. Five years later, in 1954, the document was updated.

The 1954 Code of Points was a supplement to the 1949 Code, adding more detail about the evaluation of men’s optional exercises. It specified:

  • The breakdown of the 10.0
  • The number of required elements
  • The types of movements that should be included on each apparatus
  • The difficulty levels of various elements.

Assigning difficulty levels to elements was a request from the Soviet Union:

As the Russians proposed, a table of difficulties has been worked out, which can be used in Rome [at the World Championships].

Gazette de Lausanne, January 7, 1954

On a mis au point, sur proposition russe, une table des difficultés qui pourra être utilisée à Rome.

So, here’s a summary of the 1954 Code of Points, as well as the original French text, as printed in the magazine Le Gymnaste, May 1955. Thanks to the Bibliothèque nationale de France for providing the documents.

1971 Code of Points MAG

1971: The Supplement to the 1968 Men’s Code of Points

In 1971, the Men’s Technical Committee issued an update to the 1968 Code of Points. But instead of printing a new document, they printed pages that were meant to be pasted over certain sections of the 1968 Code of Points. As you’ll see, the document has a funky layout as a result.

This supplement is important for two reasons. First, it established the individual all-around final. Second, it placed even more emphasis on risk, originality, and virtuosity.

Reminder: At the time, the women’s Code of Points did not have any requirements for risk, originality, and virtuosity.

Let’s take a look at the major changes…

Cover of the 1971 supplement to the Code of Points
1970 Code of Points WAG

1970: The Women’s Code of Points

In 1970, the Women’s Technical Committee published a new version of the Code of Points. Many of the rules had already been in place in the 1968 Code of Points (e.g. only four judges per apparatus instead of the previous norm of five judges per apparatus).

The major change in the English version was the inclusion of stick figure drawings. Let’s take a look at the Code.

1949 Code of Points MAG

1949: The History behind the First Men’s Code of Points

The first Code of Points was published in 1949. Though, the seed for the project was planted much earlier, in the 1930s.

Here’s how Pierre Hentgès, Sr., recounts the history of the first CoP.

1958 Code of Points WAG

1958: The Very First Women’s Code of Points

In 1949, the Men’s Technical Committee published its first Code of Points.

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.

Let’s take a look at the 1958 Code of Points.

1964 Code of Points

1964: The Women’s Code of Points

The 1964 Code of Points was the second Code for women’s gymnastics. You can read the document in its entirety at the bottom of this post. Otherwise, here are a few notes…

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
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