1974 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG World Championships

1974: Božena Perdykulová and Her “Vault to Glory”

For over three decades Czechoslovakia was a powerhouse in the world of women’s artistic gymnastics. From 1936 until 1968, Czechoslovak women’s artistic gymnasts always won at least one medal at the Olympics, and, except for 1950, from 1934 to 1970, they won at least one medal at the World Championships. (Czechoslovakia did not attend the 1950 World Championships.)

In 1972, that streak ended. No Czechoslovak gymnast won a medal in Munich, which led to much soul-searching.

Two years later, at the 1974 World Championships, the winds of fortune changed, and Czechoslovakia was on the podium once again. Božena Perdykulová, a newcomer to the international stage, came to Varna with an impressive Tsukahara and won a bronze medal.

Because Perdykulová is relatively unknown to English-speaking gymnastics fans, I translated two articles about her, as well as an article about the place where she trained.

Stadión, no. 51, 1974
1974 Czechoslovakia WAG

1974: Czechoslovakia’s Plans for Uneven Bars

From 1936 until 1968, the Czechoslovak women’s artistic gymnasts always won at least one medal at the Olympics. In 1972, that streak ended. In 1974, the leadership of the Czechoslovak women’s team was wondering how to return to its golden age. According to the article below, one potential solution was to improve on uneven bars. In particular, they were hoping to find something unique and extraordinary on the apparatus — similar to what Korbut brought to bars in 1972.

Interestingly, the article points out that Korbut was not the only gymnast to train the salto release on bars. Czechoslovak gymnast Bohumila Římnáčová had trained the same skill but couldn’t master it. 

One final tidbit: It should be noted that the article leaves out an important detail in its historiography. At the 1934 World Championships, teams had a choice of uneven bars or parallel bars. The Czechoslovak team was the only team to choose uneven bars. In effect, it was the Czechoslovak women’s team that introduced uneven bars to FIG competitions.

1973 Czechoslovakia WAG

1973: Stodůlková’s Double Back on Floor

At the inaugural Moscow News competition in 1974, Yelena Abramova became the first woman to do a double back at a large international competition. (You can see a video here.) But she was not the first gymnast to perform the skill.

In 1973, Renata Stodůlková made headlines when she performed the skill at Czechoslovakia’s trials for the European Championships, and though Stodůlková did not compete at the 1973 European Championships, her double back on floor was a big topic of conversation in London that year.

What follows is a translation of the newspaper article about Stodůlková’s double back.

Renata Stodůlková, 1971 – Source: Vlasta, No. 38, 1971
Adolfína Tkačíková-Tačová and Renata Stodůlková, 1967 – Source: Vlasta, No. 35, 1967

Note: If you’re a long-time gymnastics fan, you may have heard of Stodůlková’s double back, but the details have largely been forgotten over the years.

It’s important to recognize moments like this in gymnastics history because progress in women’s artistic gymnastics is often seen through a Soviet lens. The contributions of gymnasts from other countries are often overlooked, and, as I mentioned above, Stodůlková’s double back did capture the attention of the European gymnastics community in 1973 — even if she performed the skill only domestically.

Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles MAG

1974: A Profile of Miloslav Netušil – “One of Many”

Before Simone Biles had a kidney stone at the 2018 World Championships, there was Miloslav Netušil of Czechoslovakia. But unlike Biles, who went on to win six medals in Doha, Netušil had to seek medical treatment in the middle of the 1972 Olympic Games. He posted a 54.50 during compulsories and had to withdraw before the second day of the men’s competition (optionals). As a result, the Czechoslovak team was forced to finish the team competition with only five team members.

Below, you can find a short profile of Netušil, who was a three-time Olympian (1968, 1972, and 1976). He died earlier this year.

1973 1974 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG

1973: A Profile of Zdena Dorňáková, the 14-Year-Old Czechoslovak Champion

In 1972, Zdena Dorňáková won the all-around at the Czechoslovak National Championships when she was only 14. She finished 27th in the all-around at the Munich Olympics, suffered an injury right before the 1973 European Championships, and finished 19th in the all-around at the 1974 World Championships in Varna.

Because she won the national title at such a young age, she was a source of fascination in the Czechoslovak media in the early 1970s, and she was portrayed as the gymnast who might rehabilitate Czechoslovak gymnastics. Below, you’ll find a 1973 profile of her, as well as a 1974 interview.

A topic of interest: The tension between the capital and the peripheral gyms. This was not a uniquely Czechoslovak problem. For instance, it was a challenge for Swiss gymnasts, as well.

1973 Czechoslovakia WAG

1973: Czechoslovakia Restructures the WAG Program after Munich

From 1936 until 1968, Czechoslovak women’s artistic gymnasts always won at least one medal at the Olympics. In 1972, that streak ended. It led to Czechoslovakia reorganizing its training, creating a more centralized training system with Vít Matlocha at the helm. The coaches’ goal: find a way to recreate Korbut’s magic in Czechoslovakia.

Reminder: Jaroslava Matlochová, who was Čáslavská’s coach at the end of her career, had left to coach in Italy. After Munich, she returned to Czechoslovakia to lead the women’s program with her husband.

1972 Czechoslovakia MAG WAG

1972: The Results from Czechoslovakia’s National Championships

After World War II, Czechoslovakia was one of the powerhouses in women’s gymnastics. But in the lead-up to the Munich Olympics, they had dropped in the rankings. At the 1966 World Championships, they finished first. At the 1968 Olympics, they finished second. Then, at the 1970 World Championships, they were third. Nevertheless, Czechoslovakia was one of the favorites for bronze in Munich.

On the men’s side, the team had finished 4th at both the 1966 World Championships and the 1968 Olympic Games. But they dropped to 9th at the 1970 World Championships, which is where they finished in Munich. (Based on their scores at their national championships, a medal seemed out of the question.)

Here are the results for the 1972 Czechoslovak National Championships.

Zdena Dorňáková, Stadión, No. 38, Sept. 18, 1973
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 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.

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.