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1968 Compulsories MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Compulsories Competition in Mexico City

When we think of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, we think of the questionable judging in women’s gymnastics and the political protest of Věra Čáslavská on the podium after the floor finals.

Over the years, a piece of FIG gossip has been forgotten. It happened after the men’s compulsories. Arthur Gander, the FIG president, threatened to ban a coach from competition.

So, let’s dive into the men’s compulsories, eh?

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 22: Mikhail Voronin of the Soviet Union competes in the Rings of the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Team Compulsory during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 22, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 MAG Perfect 10 USSR WAG

1968: A Flurry of 10.0s in the Soviet Union

At the 1967 European Championships, Czechoslovak gymnast Věra Čáslavská scored two 10.0s. One year later, during the lead-up to the Mexico City Olympics, the Soviet gymnasts scored four 10.0s at their domestic competitions.

Given the flurry of 10.0s just before the 1968 Olympics, it’s somewhat surprising that there weren’t any 10.0s in Mexico City.

Let’s take a look at what happened at the USSR Nationals and the USSR Cup.

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1968 East Germany MAG Perfect 10 WAG

1968: Zuchold’s and Janz’s 10.0s at the East German Championships

After Čáslavská scored two 10.0s at the 1967 European Championships, a flurry of 10.0s appeared in national competitions during the lead-up to the Mexico City Olympics. Two of the recipients were Erika Zuchold and Karin Janz.

At the East German Championships in July of 1968, Zuchold scored 10.0s on both optional floor and vault, and Janz scored a 10.0 on her optional vault.

What follows is a translation of an article from Neues Deutschland.

Zentralbild Koch 8.7.1968 Halle: DDR-Meisterschaften im Frauenturnen. Bei den Finalwettbewerben an den einzelnen Geräten, mit denen am 7.7.1968 in Halle-Neustadt die deutschen Frauen-Turnmeisterschaften der DDR zu Ende gingen, holte sich die Achtkampfmeisterin Erika Zuchold (SC Leipzig) auch die Titel am Schwebebalken und im Bodenturnen (Foto). Während der Meisterschaftstage erreichte die Leipzigerin insgesamt sechsmal die Höchstnote “10”.
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1968 Compulsories MAG

1968: The Men’s Compulsory Routines for the Olympics

Compulsories: The bane of some gymnasts’ existence, and the bane of some judges’ existence, as well.

Let’s take a look at the 1968 men’s compulsories and how they were judged…

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1968 Code of Points MAG

1968: The Men’s Code of Points

The 1968 men’s Code of Points exploded. 

Gymnastics was quickly evolving, and the Men’s Technical Committee was trying to be more prescriptive on what they wanted to see and in which direction they wanted the sport to go.

I’ll do my best to give you the CliffsNotes version of a 194-page document.

The 1968 Code of Points
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1924 MAG Olympics Perfect 10

1924: The First Perfect 10 in Gymnastics at the Olympic Games

In July of 1976, newspapers around the world reported that Nadia Comăneci scored the first 10 in Olympic history.

Nadia Comaneci, a 15‐year‐old Rumanian girl, scored the first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastic history in the women’s uneven parallel bars competition.

New York Times, July 19, 1976

Nadia received a perfect score of 10.00 — the first perfect 10 in Olympic history.

The Daily Yomiuri, July 20, 1976

Unfortunately, what they reported was wrong.

Comăneci was the first female gymnast to score a 10 in Olympic history, but she was not the first gymnast to score a 10. (To be fair, information was much harder to come by in the 1970s.)

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1968 MAG Olympics

1968: Willi Jaschek, the Gymnast Who Competed with a Torn Achilles

In early April, Artur Dalaloyan tore his Achilles. In July, he competed and helped his team win an Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

It’s a jaw-dropping story, but it’s not the only jaw-dropping Achilles story in Olympic gymnastics history.

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1964 MAG Olympics

1964: Men’s Gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics

From the women’s competition at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, we head to the men’s competition.

Spoiler alert: Once again, there was a big judging controversy that sparked debate about abandoning the 10.0.

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1964 Code of Points MAG

1964: The Men’s Code of Points

Leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, the FIG republished its Code of Points. You can download the entire 1964 Code of Points at the bottom of this post.

Here are a few of the highlights.

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1964 Compulsories MAG WAG

1964: Compulsories for the Tokyo Olympics

In the “Chalk Talk” section of the 1963 September issue of Modern Gymnast, Kurt Bächler, who became known as the “Father of Trampolining,” wrote an entire plan for the Americans to succeed in Tokyo.

One of the items: “They develop the compulsory routines to 9.5 average (which in my opinion is definitely possible

9.5 average? Simple enough, right?

Umm… Have you seen the 1964 compulsories? They were called “perhaps the most difficult ever.” (Modern Gymnast, March 1964)

(To be fair, if you asked any elite gymnast who competed compulsories, they would tell you that their quad’s compulsories were the most challenging.)