FIG Bulletin WAG

1975: Tsukahara Vault Wins Medals

Pure gym nerdery. That’s what we have here. 

In 1975, the FIG reprinted an article that analyzed three Tsukahara vaults by three gymnasts: Lyubov Bogdanova, Ludmilla Tourischeva, and Alina Goreac. It includes drawings and tables that compare every fraction of a second of their vaults.

Context: Keep in mind that, in 1973, when the aforementioned vaults were performed, Tsukaharas were relatively new. Tsukahara himself performed the vault at the 1970 World Championships. Two years later, at the Riga International, East German gymnast Beate Gehrke did one of the first Tsukaharas in women’s artistic gymnastics. By the 1974 World Championships, Tsukaharas had become commonplace in WAG.

Have fun looking at this document from the archives.

1974 FIG Bulletin MAG WAG World Championships

1974: The FIG’s Reflections on the World Championships in Varna

What did the leaders of the FIG think about the 1974 World Championships?

For starters, none of them was thrilled about having to move the location of the competition. As you’ll see, both presidents of the technical committees and the president of the FIG mentioned the challenge of choosing a host for the 1974 World Championships. (More on that decision here.)

Valerie Nagy, the president of the Women’s Technical Committee, was generally displeased with the level of the gymnasts, writing: “Even without preliminary qualifications, the national federations should have been more severe when making their selections.”

In addition, she didn’t like the direction of balance beam, where she felt that gymnasts were trying to perform too many difficult acrobatic elements, which impacted the flow of the routine.

In that same vein, Arthur Gander, the president of the FIG, railed against the emphasis on risk and difficulty at the expense of execution.

Below, you can find Gander’s comments, as well as those of the MTC and the WTC.

My thought bubble: Yup, this is pretty nerdy stuff, but most people who read this site are pretty nerdy people. 🙂

A little trivia: Did you know that there were three score protests during the men’s competition? Guess how many of those protests were rejected.

1973 FIG Bulletin

1973: Two per Country

In 1973, the IOC Programming Commission and the FIG engaged in a delicate dance in which the IOC presented a list of concerns and the FIG had to come up with solutions that appeased the IOC. (This wasn’t new. For example, in 1957, this dance led to the elimination of group rhythmic exercises in women’s gymnastics and the creation of event finals.)

In 1973, one of the IOC’s concerns was the number of gymnasts per country in the all-around and event finals. The FIG’s solution allowed only three gymnasts per country into the all-around finals and two gymnasts per country into the apparatus finals. 

Keep in mind that the apparatus finals, in particular, were heavily dominated by the top teams. For example, at the 1972 Olympics, there were four Soviet gymnasts in the women’s vault finals, four Japanese gymnasts in the men’s floor finals, and five Japanese gymnasts in the men’s high bar finals. (There were only six gymnasts per final.)

Another interesting tidbit: The IOC was already pushing to reduce team sizes to five members in 1973.

Below, you will find the letter that the FIG published in its Bulletin of Information in December 1973 (issue no. 4). 

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.)

1970 1971 Age FIG Bulletin FIG Congress WAG

1970: Setting the Age Limit for WAG at 14

In 1970, the Women’s Technical Committee set the competitive age limit at 14. One year later, they issued an explanation of sorts. It included a warning to members, recognizing that abusive methods were leaving child gymnasts damaged. By setting the age limit at 14, their hope was to see more “mature work” that displayed a “woman’s charm.”

Here’s what was recorded in the 1971 FIG bulletins about the question of age in women’s artistic gymnastics.

1950 FIG Bulletin FIG Congress

1950: The 29th FIG Congress and the Attempt to Get Rid of Pommel Horse

Do you wish that pommel horse weren’t a part of men’s artistic gymnastics? If Sweden had its way in 1950, the apparatus would be gone.

Do you wish that men would use floor music? Hungary and Poland wanted that to happen in 1950.

Do you wish that women still competed on flying rings? Well, you have several federations to blame for that.

Oh, and you have Hungary to thank for the size of today’s floor exercise.

Let’s dive into the details of the 1950 FIG Congress.