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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.

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1974 Interviews & Profiles USSR WAG

1974: Gymnastics without Kuchinskaya but with Tourischeva and Korbut

In 1970, Stanislav Tokarev published an article titled “Gymnastics without Natasha?…” in the magazine Yunost. In it, he announced Natalia (Natasha) Kuchinskaya’s retirement from the sport and observed that the careers of gymnastics stars were much shorter. In addition, he praised the next generation of gymnasts, including Nina Dronova, whom he nicknamed “The Mozart of Gymnastics.”

Four years later, Tokarev wrote a follow-up article in which he opines on several burning questions: Why didn’t Nina Dronova live up to her potential? How do you become Olga Korbut? Why can’t Olga Korbut beat Ludmila Tourischeva in the all-around? What is it like for the Soviet Union to have such deep wells of talent? 

Below, you’ll find a translation of the article “Without Natasha, but with Lyuda and Olya.” It was published in the September 1974 issue of Yunost  — right before the 1974 World Championships in Varna.

Ludmila Tourischeva and Olga Korbut at a competition between Canada, West Germany, and the Soviet Union in 1972
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1974 Interviews & Profiles MAG Riga International WAG

1974: Interviews with Natalia Kuchinskaya and Klaus Köste in Riga

The Latvian newspaper Sports did interviews with Natalia Kuchinskaya and Klaus Köste at the 1974 edition of the Riga International. At the time, Kuchinskaya, one of the stars of the 1966 World Championships and 1968 Olympic Games, was working in Ukraine as a choreographer. Klaus Köste, the 1972 Olympic champion on vault, had retired from the sport and then came back.

Below, you can find translations of their interviews. You can find a report on the 1974 competition in Riga here.

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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.

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1973 Interviews & Profiles USSR

1973: Olga Korbut Mania in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union, like the rest of the world, wasn’t immune to Korbut mania. She appeared in numerous newspaper articles and photographs. The country’s media followed along as the Women’s Technical Committee considered banning Korbut’s famous skills, and the newspaper Izvestiia portrayed Korbut as the star of the Soviet gymnasts’ British tour. There even was a short film about Korbut in 1973. It was titled The Joys, the Sorrows, and the Dreams of Olga Korbut (Радости, огорчения, мечты Ольги Корбут).

Below, you’ll find a small collection of Soviet media about Korbut, including the aforementioned film and an article from Soviet Woman, a bimonthly illustrated magazine out of Moscow.

Olga Korbut (USSR) Womens Gymnastics Munich Olympics 1972.

Note #1: There will be references to Knysh below. It should also be mentioned that Korbut has alleged that Knysh sexually assaulted her. Knysh denied the allegations. He died in 2019.

Note #2: There will be references to weight and weight-shaming in this article.

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1973 Interviews & Profiles MAG USSR

1973: A Profile of Viktor Klimenko – “Catching up and Overtaking”

In July of 1973, after Viktor Klimenko won his second European all-around title, Stadión, a weekly Czechoslovak sports magazine, published a profile on him. It offers details about his early years in the sport, his rivalries within the Soviet team, his coaching changes, his recovery from an Achilles tear that occurred during the 1971 European Championships, and more.

Enjoy!

Note: You can read a much shorter profile of the Klimenko brothers from 1972 here.

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1973 Interviews & Profiles Romania WAG

1973: An Early Interview with Béla Károlyi

In 1973, one of the first profiles of the Károlyis was printed. It wasn’t published in the main sports newspaper in Romania, Sportul. Rather, it was published in A Hét, a Hungarian-language newspaper out of Bucharest. (Both Károlyis are ethnic Hungarians.)

The profile in A Hét calls the couple “heroes” and includes the basic contours of the Károlyis’ backstory, which differ from those found in a profile of Comăneci published weeks earlier in Sportul. In that profile, Károlyi suggests that he discovered Comăneci on a playground, a myth that has been repeated for decades. But here, in this Hungarian-language interview, the writer makes it clear that the Károlyis inherited already established groups of gymnasts when they moved to Oneşti. Though, Comăneci’s first coach, Marcel Duncan, is never mentioned by name.

The profile of Károlyi in A Hét was printed after Comăneci’s early success in 1973 — after she had won all the golds at the 1973 Romanian International as well as the all-around during a dual meet with the Soviets. And according to Károlyi, the best was yet to come. In fact, he insinuated that Comăneci might become the first woman to compete a triple twist. (Japan’s Kenmotsu had attempted the skill at the 1970 World Championships and 1972 Olympics.)

A short sidenote: In this article, we find out an interesting tidbit: Márta Károlyi’s first name in Hungarian is reportedly Gyöngyi. (Erőss is her maiden name.) It was not uncommon for Hungarians to use alternate given names. For example, Valerie Nagy, a long-time member of the Women’s Technical Committee, did not use her Hungarian given name (Jenőné) outside of Hungary.

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1972 1973 Interviews & Profiles Romania WAG

1972/3: Early Interviews with Nadia Comăneci

Long before the 1976 Olympics, the Romanian press — in both Romanian and Hungarian — started to print interviews with and profiles of Nadia Comăneci. 

Below, you’ll find translations of a small collection of interviews and profiles from 1972 and 1973. Each one is interesting in its own right. For example, you can find an early comparison with Olga Korbut — something that would continue to crop up in the press for years after. In that same article, the author questions if too much was expected of the prodigy at too young of an age — an ongoing question in the sport of gymnastics. There’s even an article titled, “We should not expect everything only from Nadia Comăneci.”

All in all, the articles portray Comăneci as a wunderkind, whose skill is routinely described in supernatural, if not religious, terms, with the word “miracle” being routinely employed to describe her accomplishments.

Sportul, June 15, 1972

As you’ll see in the first profile printed about Comăneci, the Romanian press erased her first coach, Marcel Duncan, from Comăneci’s story right from the start.
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1973 East Germany Interviews & Profiles WAG

1973: A Profile of Karin Janz

In January of 1973, shortly after the 1972 Chunichi Cup, Stadión, a Czechoslovak weekly, ran a profile of Karin Janz. In addition to a summary of her career, it included interviews with Janz, her father, and her coaches. Interestingly, it suggested that Janz intended to continue competing through the 1976 Olympics, which, in the end, she did not do. As the article noted, she was busy with her medical studies. 

For her father, this was Janz’s greatest achievement: “It meant more to me than all her medals when she enrolled in medical school because she stayed true to her childhood dream.”

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1972 Interviews & Profiles USA

1972: Profiles of Joan Moore, Collector of Mice

Today’s gymnastics fans may know Joan Moore as the mother of Ashleigh Gnat, a standout on the LSU gymnastics team. But in 1972, she was one of the best tumblers in the world, opening her floor routine with a high double full and doing a front layout — a rare skill that Japanese men’s artistic gymnast Nakayama Akinori also competed.

The Philadelphia newspapers wrote a lot about Moore, and their profiles raised perennial questions:

  • How can elite athletes balance school with training?
  • How do parents manage their children’s gymnastics careers?
  • Should the U.S. government do more to sponsor elite athletes?
  • How should gymnasts be educated?
  • How many stuffed mice does Joan Moore have?

Enjoy these profiles of Moore from before and after the Munich Olympics.

Kim Chace, Debbie Hill, Joan Moore, Roxanne Pierce, Linda Metheny, Nancy Thies, Cathy Rigby