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1971 Hungary MAG WAG

1971: Ilona Békési Wins Every Event at Hungarian Nationals

In 1971, Ilona Békési was a rising star in the European gymnastics community, and at the 1971 Hungarian Masters Championships, she won gold in every event. One year later, she would lead the Hungarian women’s team to a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.

Note: Békési and the Hungarian women often get overlooked in English-language histories of gymnastics. So, this is the first of many posts that will provide a glimpse into Hungarian gymnastics in the early 1970s.

Datum: 31.08.1972 Copyright: imago/Pressefoto Baumann Ilona Bekesi (Ungarn);
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1971 Japan MAG WAG

1971: The “Japan vs. Europe” Competition

In a competition advertised as “Japan vs. Europe” in Bern, Switzerland, the Japanese men and women were supposed to compete against Europe’s best gymnasts. In the end, the marketing overpromised. Only some of the top European gymnasts competed. Notably absent were the Soviets and East Germans.

Nevertheless, there was some excitement. On the men’s side, Kato Sawao, the 1968 all-around gold medalist, returned to competition after an Achilles tear. On the women’s side, Ilona Békési had a breakout performance, even after the uneven bars collapsed literally on top of her.

Reminder: This naming convention would be quite common at competitions like “The USSR vs. the World.”

Hirashima Eiko (Japan)
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1971 European Championships Judging Controversy MAG

1971: Klimenko Ends Voronin’s Streak at the Men’s European Championships

The 1971 Men’s European Championships were held in Madrid from Friday, May 14 (opening ceremony) to Sunday, May 16, 1971 (event finals). Here are a few key takeaways:

  • As expected, the competition was a fight between Voronin and his younger teammate Klimenko. 
  • The Soviet gymnasts swept the all-around podium.
  • Unfortunately, Klimenko tore his Achilles on floor during the warm-ups for the event finals.
  • Oh, and there was some questionable judging.

Want more info? Let’s dive in.

Source: Modern Gymnast, Nov. 1971
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1971 MAG USA USSR WAG

1971: The USSR vs. the USA

In 1969, the United States Gymnastics Federation invited the Soviet Union to its World Cup, but the Soviet Union did not attend. In 1971, the winds changed, and the Soviet Union traveled to the U.S. for dual meets at Penn State and Temple University.

What follows are remarks on the competition at Penn State (February 5 and 6, 1971).

Left to Right: Sikharulidze, Voronina, Tourischeva
Source: Madamoiselle Gymnast, March/April 1971

Note: It should be noted that this gymnastics competition was not the first sporting event between the two countries during the Cold War. In 1962, for example, there was a U.S. vs. USSR track and field dual meet.

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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
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1970 MAG World Championships

1970: The Men’s Competition at the World Championships

The 1970 World Championships were a pivotal moment in the history of gymnastics. Men’s vault was considered boring in the late 1960s. But that changed at the 1970 World Championships when Tsukahara unveiled his namesake vault. The crowd loved it. In fact, during the optionals portion of the World Championships, the crowd protested Tsukahara’s 9.75.

Note: If you want to be extremely pretentious, you can call a “Tsukahara” a “Tivoli Vault.” Reportedly, that’s what Tsukahara was going to name the vault.

In addition to the debut of the Tsukahara vault, Kenmotsu, the 1970 World All-Around Champion, attempted a triple twist on floor. After the 1968 Olympics, he spent two years trying to personalize his gymnastics. It’s debatable whether or not he achieved his goal. Endo, Japan’s head coach at the time, bluntly said, “What sets Kenmotsu apart from others? I do not know very well.” Ouch.

Here’s what else happened at the 1970 World Championships…

Turn-Weltmeisterschaft in Ljubljana: Mitsuo Tsukahara (Japan) Turn World Cup in Ljubljana Mitsuo Tsukahara Japan
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1970 Compulsories MAG WAG World Championships

1970: The Compulsory Routines for the World Championships in Ljubljana

What were the compulsory routines for the World Championships in Ljubljana?

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, there aren’t videos of the routines on YouTube. But in this post, you can find the English text and drawings for both the men’s and women’s compulsories.

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1969 Apparatus Norms MAG

1969: The Problems with Vault in Men’s Gymnastics

If you were going to remove one event from the men’s program, which would it be?

In 1969, vault in men’s artistic gymnastics was a major sticking point. Gymnasts were performing the same vault over and over, and some thought that the hand zones were pointless. At an FIG coaches’ meeting, some even thought that the apparatus should be eliminated.

Let’s dive into the concerns…

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1969 Japan MAG USSR WAG

1969: Olga Korbut’s Win at the Japan vs. USSR Dual Meet

At the 1969 European Championships, Mikhail Voronin was looking ahead to the competition between Japan and the Soviet Union. However, he didn’t end up competing in the meet.

But you know who did compete? 14-year-old Olga Korbut.

And you know who won the meet? Olga Korbut.

Let’s take a look at what happened and watch some of her routines…

Länderkampf BR Deutschland, UdSSR und Kanada 1972 in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Lyudmila Turishcheva (li.) und Olga Korbut (beide UdSSR) Countries struggle BR Germany USSR and Canada 1972 in Schwäbisch Gmünd Lyudmila Turishcheva left and Olga Korbut both USSR

Note: This photo is not from 1972 — not the 1969 dual meet with Japan.
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1969 European Championships MAG

1969: Mikhail Voronin Retains His Title at the Men’s European Championships

On May 24 and 25, 1969, just months after the Olympic Games, the top male gymnasts in Europe gathered in Warsaw for the European Championships. As expected, the Soviet gymnasts dominated the meet.

In 1969, the rules for the European Championships changed. Each country could send three gymnasts instead of two. (Meanwhile, in women’s artistic gymnastics, countries continued to send only two gymnasts to the European Championships.) But the Soviet gymnasts were unable to sweep the all-around podium because Lisitsky had a major break on pommel horse.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

Viktor Klimenko, 1970