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1967 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG

1967: A Profile of Marianna Krajčírová after Her Bronze Finish at Euros

Unlike much of the Czechoslovak team, Marianna Krajčírová was Slovak — not Czech. She was part of the 1964 Czechoslovak team in Tokyo, as well as the 1966 World Championships team that won gold. On a personal level, 1967 was her break-out year. At the 1967 European Championships, she finished third in the all-around and third on bars. Then, at the 1967 “Little Olympics” in Mexico City (essentially an Olympics Test Event), she finished second behind Soviet gymnast Natalia Kuchinskaya.

Here’s a 1967 profile from Stadión on Krajčírová, whose father built her a balance beam to train on at home. Plus, there’s a translation of a short interview with Krajčírová (Némethová at the time) from 1970.

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1967 Czechoslovakia WAG

1967: The Czechoslovak Championships in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics

No surprise: Věra Čáslavská won the Czechoslovak Championships in April ahead of the 1967 European Championships. The big news was that she had upgraded her routines, adding a front handspring to needle scale on beam, as well as a full-twisting hecht dismount from the upper rail on uneven bars.

Let’s take a look at what happened at the 1967 Czechoslovak Nationals.

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1966 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG

1966: A Profile of Jaroslava Matlochová, Czechoslovakia’s Head Coach

Jaroslava Matlochová was a fixture of the gymnastics community for decades — both as a coach and as a member of the Women’s Technical Committee. In fact, she was one of the early champions of relying on younger gymnasts in women’s artistic gymnastics. Yet, little has been written about her online.

So, here’s a translation of a profile on her, printed in Stadión just after the Czechoslovak women’s team took gold at the Dortmund World Championships.

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1966 Books Czechoslovakia MAG World Championships

1966: Czechoslovak Coverage of the Golden World Championships in Dortmund

At the 1966 World Championships, the Czechoslovak women’s team finally defeated the Soviet team, and Čáslavská won the all-around title, defeating Kuchinskaya, who reportedly stated before the competition, “I will share the medals with Čáslavská!”

Stadión, a Czechoslovak sports magazine, dedicated several pages to the competition. The article’s tone was blunt in places. It criticized the complacency of the Czechoslovak men’s team, as well as the judges during the women’s event finals and Villancher’s interventions in the judging.

Note: Berthe Villancher, the President of the Women’s Technical Committee, was known for her interventions. For example, she intervened during Čáslavská’s beam routine at the 1968 Olympics and during Tourischeva’s beam routine at the 1969 European Championships.

It also provided interesting tidbits of information. For example, there were spies at the competitions in Czechoslovakia before the World Championships; the Czechoslovak pianist may have been the key to victory; and the Czechoslovak gymnasts’ shoes were believed to have magical powers.

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1966 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG

1966: A Profile of Bohumila Řimnáčová

Bohumila Řimnáčová was a member of the Czechoslovak team that won gold at the 1966 World Championships, silver at the 1968 Olympic Games, and bronze at the 1970 World Championships. Injuries prevented her from competing at the 1964 Olympic Games.

The following profile, printed in Stadión before the Dortmund World Championships in 1966, traces Řimnáčová’s career that took off after she answered a newspaper ad. Like many Czech gymnasts from this era, she originally wanted to be a figure skater.

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1966 Czechoslovakia MAG Perfect 10 WAG

1966: Čáslavská Scores a 10.0 at the Czechoslovak Championships

With three months to go until the World Championships, the Czechoslovak women’s team looked strong at the national championships. Not only did Čáslavská score a 10.0 on floor, but they had seven gymnasts score a 76.00 or better in the all-around.

On the men’s side, there was much rumination about what went wrong in Tokyo. At the 1962 World Championships, the Czechoslovak men were third. At the 1964 Olympic Games, they dropped to sixth. Sotorník, the head coach of the team, even mentions his team’s work with a psychologist.

Here’s the coverage of the 1966 Czechoslovak Championships from the sports magazine Stadión.

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1966 Czechoslovakia WAG

1966: Coaching Women’s Gymnastics in Czechoslovakia

In 1966, the Czechoslovak women’s team won gold at the World Championships in Dortmund. But what was their training system like? Who were their main coaches? What improvements could be made?

This article, published in Stadión months before the World Championships, gives us a glimpse into how Czechoslovakia structured its elite training.

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1963 Czechoslovakia MAG WAG

 1963: The Czechoslovak Championships

Here’s a brief article on the 1963 Czechoslovak Championships, which Šťastný and Čáslavská won. Čáslavská swept the event titles, as well.

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1963 Czechoslovakia MAG

1963: Why was the Czechoslovak men’s program struggling?

The Czechoslovak men’s team used to be the strongest program in the world. The Czech Sokols won the team titles at the 1907, 1911, 1913, 1922, 1926, 1930, and 1938 World Championships. After World War II, Czechoslovakia’s highest finish at the World Championships was third (1958 and 1962).

So, what happened? Why was their program struggling? In 1963, Stadión ran an article that offered several theories on this topic. The main concern was a lack of depth.

This lack of depth was, in part, due to the amount of dedication that gymnastics takes. “Gymnastics needs all of one’s free time. And so the boys leave and are content to perform some kind of handstand or somersault in the swimming pool.”

Another reason was Czechoslovakia’s mandatory military service, which happened at an age when male gymnasts are just starting to gain the strength required for high-level gymnastics. One unit — Dukla in Prague — was good at developing gymnasts while those who go to other military units do not progress. As a result, many male gymnasts’ development fell by the wayside at the age of 19.

In addition to the question of depth, there was a lack of consistency in the training methodologies throughout the various regions. And generally speaking, there seemed to be misguided routine composition among the top Czechoslovak men.

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1963 Czechoslovakia Japan

1963: Japan vs. Czechoslovakia

In 1963, Japanese gymnasts traveled to Czechoslovakia for a dual meet. Not surprisingly, the Soviets, specifically Yuri Titov, made a trip to Czechoslovakia to film the routines, and the East Germans were there with their notepads.

According to an article in the Czechoslovak sports magazine Stadión, the Japanese men’s artistic gymnasts were breaking new ground on rings and high bar, while the Czechoslovak women’s artistic gymnasts were showing original elements on beam and floor. (Though, the Japanese women’s artistic gymnasts were the queens of turns on beam.)

Here’s a short account of what happened.

Reminder: This was a competition between the top teams in the world. The Czechoslovak men’s team finished third at the 1962 World Championships while the Japanese men finished first. The Czechoslovak women’s team finished second in 1962 while the Japanese women finished third.