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1972 Gym Nerd Trivia Olympics

1972: Gym Nerd Trivia about the Olympic Games

If you’re reading this site, you’re. a gym nerd at heart. Now, it’s time to see just how much of a gym nerd you are. Take the quiz below to find out.

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1972 East Germany Olympics

1972: East Germany’s Takeaways from the Munich Olympics

After the Olympics, Deutsches Sportecho, the main sports newspaper of East Germany, published an article about the gymnastics competition. Its general conclusion: There were no surprises at the Olympics. Everything happened as expected. The socialist countries dominated the women’s competition while the Japanese team dominated the men’s competition.

The article did offer a small critique of the judging in the women’s competition:

Judges are only human, and they valued the grace of Olga Korbut or the suppleness of Ludmilla Tourischeva more highly than the pronounced athleticism of Karin Janz – with the same difficulty and the same precision.

What follows is a translation of the article.

Copyright: imago/Colorsport, Karin Janz, Vault
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1972 Olympics Romania

1972: Romania’s Takeaways from the Olympics in Munich

Romania skipped the gymnastics competition at the 1968 Olympics in part because of its disappointing showing at the 1964 Olympics. Four years later, in 1972, the Romanian women finished sixth, just as they had at the 1964 Olympics. The Romanian men finished 7th — a major improvement over their 12th-place finish in Tokyo.

After the Olympic Games in Munich, the Romanian press tried to answer the questions:

  • What should we make of the gymnasts’ performance in 1972?
  • Could our gymnasts have been achieved?
  • What needs to be done going forward?

What follows is a translation of a column from Sportul, published in the September 29, 1972 edition of the newspaper. The article looks at everything from body weight to the lack of good apparatus in the country.

Elena Ceampelea on the balance beam, June 10, 1972, The Netherlands
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1972 Japan Olympics

1972: Japan’s Reflections on the Munich Olympics

At the end of Japan’s Official Report on the 1972 Olympics, the authors included a section that looked toward the future. They pinpointed areas where the Japanese men’s team needed to improve to stay ahead of the Soviet team, and they were hopeful because Kaneko Akitomo was part of the Technical Committee. Previously, they had felt at a geographic and linguistic disadvantage presumably because Japan is outside of Europe and Japanese is not a primary language of the FIG.

As for the women, the authors believed that Japan needed to go back to the basics and start over again.

Kato Sawao, Rings, 1972 Olympics, Copyright: imago/Sven Simon
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1972 Books MAG Olympics USSR

1972: Mikhail Voronin on His Final Olympics

In Voronin’s 1976 autobiography titled Number One (Первый номер), he reflects on his final Olympic Games. By his standards, he struggled during the Soviet competitions prior to the Olympics, and while in Munich, he injured his ankle. Arthur Gander refused to let him pull out of the all-around final, so he competed after receiving an injection that made him black out. (Note: Korbut also got an injection before the all-around final that caused her legs to go numb.) 

In the end, the Soviet men’s team won two golds, three silvers, and one bronze. They had made progress in the two years between the Ljubljana World Championships and the Munich Olympics. But in the end, Voronin recognized that they were unable to put together a team that could match Japan’s team.

Here’s what else he said about Munich… 

Datum: 07.05.1972 Athlete: Mikhail Voronin, Copyright: imago/Sven Simon, Note: This photo is not from the Olympics.

Note: Chapters of Voronin’s book were translated into Estonian for the newspaper Spordileht, and I have translated the text from Estonian into English. The following excerpts come from the February 8, 1978, February 10, 1978, and February 13, 1978 issues of Spordileht.

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1972 MAG Olympics USSR

1972: Sovetsky Sport’s Coverage of the Men’s Event Finals

In 1972, there were no Soviet men’s artistic gymnasts on the all-around podium. Afterward, the Soviet press noted that the fight was not over. The Soviet gymnasts could still take home gold during the event finals, and indeed, they did. Nikolai Andrianov and Viktor Klimenko became Olympic champions on floor and pommel horse, respectively.

Here’s what the main Soviet sports newspaper wrote about the men’s artistic event finals. Though the Soviet and Japanese gymnasts were rivals, the press was quite complimentary towards the Japanese gymnasts, especially Tsukahara’s high bar routine.

MUNICH, WEST GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 01: Viktor Klimenko of the Soviet Union competes in the Pommel Horse of the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Apparatus final during the Munich Olympic Games at the Sporthalle on September 1, 1972 in Munich, West Germany. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1972 MAG Olympics

1972: The Men’s Event Finals at the Munich Olympics

On September 1, 1972, the gymnastics portion of the Olympic Games ended with the men’s event finals. It was largely a competition between the Japanese and Soviet gymnasts. Only three gymnasts made the finals from other countries: Köste of East Germany, W. Kubica of Poland, and Rohner of Switzerland.

The Munich Olympic Games were the first time that there was an all-around final. So, instead of competing for three days, the top gymnasts had to compete for four days. Some gymnasts like Kato qualified for every final, meaning they performed a total of 24 routines.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Akinori Nakayama, Rings, Munich (Photo by Horstmüller/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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1972 FIG Congress Olympics WAG

1972: Villancher Steps down; Nagy Takes over the Women’s Technical Committee

In 1972, there was a change of the guard on the Women’s Technical Committee (WTC). Berthe Villancher, who had been the president of the WTC since 1956, finally stepped down. Valerie Nagy took her place.

Below, you can find Berthe Villancher’s thoughts on her final competition as the president of the Women’s Technical Committee, as well as what was top of mind for Valerie Nagy (Jenőné Nagy in Hungarian) when she was elected.

All in all, Villancher was pleased with how the 1972 Olympics turned out. Known for her interventions among the judges, she was happy that she did not have to intervene in as many judging controversies.

Berthe Villancher, from 100 Years of the FIG
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1972 Olympics USSR WAG

1972: Sovetsky Sport’s Coverage of the Women’s Event Finals

Only two countries medaled in the women’s event finals: the Soviet Union and East Germany. Sovetsky Sport concluded that “the Soviet and German sportswomen now fully dominate in women’s gymnastics and determine the course of its development.”

Given the newspaper’s emphasis on the friendliness between the gymnasts of both countries, it had to tread lightly when discussing the uneven bars final. Without saying that Olga Korbut should have won the title, it implied as much. But it was quick to point out that the fault was with the FIG and the judges.

Here’s what Sovetsky Sport wrote about the 1972 event finals.

Olga Korbut (USSR), Munich 1972
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1972 Olympics WAG

1972: The Women’s Event Finals at the Munich Olympics

Only three countries were represented in the finals: the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Hungary. Despite the small pool of athletes who qualified for finals, the 1972 event finals in women’s artistic gymnastics had their fair share of drama, particularly on the uneven bars. 

The crowd booed Olga’s score on bars, and reportedly, the Soviet delegation tried to protest the score by appealing to Arthur Gander, the president of the FIG. An East German judge may or may not have been sanctioned afterward. (It’s unclear.)

Setting aside the controversies, the Soviet press declared the women’s competition one of the highlights of the entire Olympic Games.

And the fact that we are again writing about the colorful performance on the gymnastic platform, we ask you to consider it as a declaration of love, as a result of the undoubted conquest of the Munich Olympics by girls from the Land of Soviets. Paired with worthy rivals – gymnasts of the German Democratic Republic – they left all eyewitnesses with the memory of an unforgettable evening, and perhaps one of the brightest pages of the XXth Olympiad. No wonder the TV announcer called Olga Korbut, Ludmilla Tourischeva, and other gymnasts the sensation of the Olympic Games, the sensation of blue screens … Charming and gentle, reaching the heights of sport and art, they brought a total of not only four gold medals to the treasury of our victories but also paved the way for the gymnastics of the future, revealing its new, yet unexplored possibilities.


Nedelia, Oct. 9, 1972

И тот факт, что мы вновь пишем о красочном выступлении на гимнастическом помосте, просим рассматривать, как признание в любви, как следствие несомненного покорения олимпийского Мюнхена девушками из Страны Советов. В паре с достойными соперницами — гимнастхами Германской Демократической Республики — они оставили у всех очевидцев память о незабываемом вечере, а возможно, одной из самых ярких страниц XX Олимпиады. Недаром диктор телевидения назвал Ольгу Корбут, Людмилу Турищеву и других гимнасток сенсацией Олимпийских игр, сенсацией голубых экранов… Обаятельные и нежные, достигшие вершин спортивного мастерства и искусства, они принесли в общей сложности в копилку наших побед не только четыре золотые медали, но и проложили путь гимнастике будущего, раскрыв ее новые, еще неизведанные возможности.

Here’s what happened on August 31, 1972.

Datum: 31.08.1972 Copyright: imago/Colorsport Gymnastics, Karin Janz, Vault

Quick Links: Vault | Bars | Beam | Floor | General Commentary | Appendix: A Q&A with Janz

Vault

COA stands for compulsory + optionals average.

GymnastCountryCOAFinalsTotal
1. Janz
Karin
GDR9.6259.90019.525
2. Zuchold
Erika
GDR9.5759.70019.275
3. Tourischeva
Ludmilla
URS9.6509.60019.250
4. Burda
Lyubov
URS9.5259.70019.225
5. Korbut
Olga
URS9.5259.65019.175
6. Lazakovich
Tamara
URS9.4509.60019.050

Gold: Karin Janz

Janz absolutely nailed the landing of that first Yamashita with a full twist.

Silver: Erika Zuchold

Bronze: Ludmilla Tourischeva

Tourischeva was the only gymnast who showed two different vaults in finals.

Gymnast magazine thought that Burda may have been underscored.

Luibov [sic] Burda performed a half-on, half-off handspring vault with long preflight with so-so postflight the first time but improved postflight on the second attempt. If one could be underscored at 9.7, she may well have been. 

Gymnast, Jan. 1973

Bars

GymnastCountryCOAFinalsTotal
1. Janz
Karin
GDR9.7759.90019.675
2. Korbut
Olga
URS9.6509.80019.450
3. Zuchold
Erika
GDR9.6509.80019.450
4. Tourischeva
Ludmilla
URS9.6259.80019.425
5. Békési
Ilona
HUN9.5759.70019.275
6. Hellmann
Angelika
GDR9.5509.65019.200

Gold: Karin Janz

Reminder: Janz performed her salto before Jäger and Gienger performed their eponymous skills on high bar. The Janz salto is one of the first same-bar releases with a salto.

Silver: Olga Korbut

The crowd booed her score for quite some time. Unfortunately, Hellmann had to compete while the crowd was still booing, which you can see below:

Bronze: Erika Zuchold

The Hungarian press was proud of Békési’s performance.

Note: The quote below seems to suggest that some thought that Békési’s result at the 1971 European Championships was an example of score-fixing.

Ilona Békési received a 9.7 for her flawless, very well-performed exercise. She kept her fifth place, proving that her fourth place at the European Championships last year was not just an “already decided” result.

The performance of the  very likable little girl, who has barely recovered from her long injury and is still in pain, can be described without exaggeration as a heroic act.

Népsport, Sept. 2, 1972

Békési Ilona hibátlanul, nagyon szépen előadott gyakorlatára 9.7-et kapott. Megőrizte ötödik helyét, igazolva ezzel azt is, hogy tavaly az Európa-bajnokságon elért negyedik helye nemcsak „kifutott” eredmény volt. 

A hosszú sérüléséből alighogy felépült nagyon rokonszenves kislányról, aki most is fájdalmakkal küszködik, túlzás nélkül elmondhatjuk, hogy hősi tettet hajtott végre. 

The Drama

Some thought that Korbut was underscored while Janz was overscored.

Here’s what a Swiss newspaper reported.

After Olga Korbut’s routine, there was an incomprehensible twenty-minute interruption at the uneven bars before the competition could be continued. Olga Korbut’s performance was characterized by a high degree of difficulty unmatched by the other gymnasts and was so energetic that the question arose (also in professional circles) as to how the deduction of two-tenths of a point had come about. Maybe the little step after the dismount? The Soviet Russian showed, to name only a few highlights, the unique flic flac to hang from the high bar, the free backwards handspring, and salto dismount backwards from the high bar over the low bar. The 17-year-old student seems to have been cheated of the crowning glory of her efforts for the second time. Ranked ahead of her was Karin Janz, whose routine, however, was given a 9.90 and was overvalued by that one tenth, which Olga Korbut had been denied.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Number 408, 1 September 1972 Edition 02

Am Stufenbarren gab es nach der Uebung Olga Korbuts einen unverständlichen zwanzigminütigen Unterbruch, ehe der Wettkampf fortgesetzt werden konnte. Olga Korbuts Vorführung zeichnete sich durch hohen Schwierigkeitsgrad aus von den anderen Turnerinnen unerreicht und war so schwungvoll, daß sich die Frage (auch in Fachkreisen) aufdrängte, wie der Abzug von zwei Zehntelpunkten zustande gekommen war. Vielleicht der kleine Nachschritt nach dem Abgang? Die Sowjetrussin zeigte, um nur einige Höhepunkte zu nennen, den einzigartigen Flic-Flac zum Hang am oberen Holm, den freien Ueberschlag rückwärts und zum Abschluß den Salto rückwärts vom oberen über den unteren Holm. Die 17jährige Schülerin scheint bereits zum zweitenmal um die Krönung ihrer Anstrengungen geprellt worden zu sein. Vor ihr wurde Karin Janz rangiert, deren Uebung jedoch mit 9,90 gerade um jenen Zehntel zu hoch bewertet wurde, den man Olga Korbut vorenthalten hatte.

Gymnast magazine reported that Titov tried to convince Gander, the president of the FIG, to change Korbut’s score.

(The Russian delegation was sitting in front of your GYMNAST reporters. We observed a disgraceful attempt by this delegation to have Korbut’s score raised from 9.8 which put her in a tie with Zuchold for 2nd place. The racket from the audience was much the same as in Dortmund in 1966 when the crowd protested a low score awarded Doris Brause. Yuri Titov who headed the Soviet delegation even went down on the floor to protest to the head scoring table. FIG Presideni Arthur Gander shook his head, NO, and sent Titov back to the stands. The score remained unchanged and the noise went on. Angelika Hellman was forced to perform nearly her whole exercise in this discourteous cacaphony from the Olympic crowd .)

Gymnast, January 1973

Korbut’s score came up in the press conference after the competition, and reportedly, the FIG dismissed the questions by noting that journalists aren’t expert judges.

At the press conference after the finals, the President of the International Gymnastics Federation, Mr. A. Gander, and the honorable ladies from the women’s technical committee were literally bombarded with questions about the scores given to Korbut. They immediately took a stand and, defending the honor of the “judges’ uniform,” tried to explain the scandal in the hall by saying that the spectators were sort of biased towards Olga and that not all journalists were experts in gymnastics. And yet we would like to give our opinion.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 206, 1972

На пресс-конференции после финалов президента Международной федерации гимнастики господина А. Гандера и почтенных дам из женского технического комитета буквально забросали вопросами об оценках, выставленных Корбут. Те немедленно встали в позу и, защищая честь «судейского мундира», пытались объяснить скандал в зале тем, что зрители-де пристрастны к Ольге, а не все журналисты специалисты в гимнастике. И все же мы хотим высказать свое мнение.

The Soviet press wasn’t unanimous in its distaste for the outcome. Sovetsky Sport did have positive things to say about Janz’s routine.

When Janz approached the apparatus, the hall became calmer. Karin excellently performed her routine, which was embellished with a rare element — a somersault between the bars. Both its complexity and purity met the world’s best standards. It was 9.9 again, and, considering she had had a very high score on the bars before, there could only be one outcome; Janz is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 206, 1972

Но когда к снаряду подошла Янц, в зале стало спокойнее. Карин великолепно исполнила свою комбинацию, украшенную редким элементом — сальто между жердями. И сложность, и чистота в ней отвечали лучшим мировым стандартам. Опять 9,9, а если учесть, что и прежде у нее оценки на брусьях были очень высокие, исход мог быть только одни; Янц — двукратная олимпийская чемпионка.

The newspaper also pointed out that this controversy had nothing to do with the athletes.

The sportswomen, of course, have nothing to do with the scandal. They fought honestly, in the spirit of the Olympic rules. They were friends before and their friendship is now even stronger. T. Lazakovich directly told about this at a press conference and on behalf of the Soviet team. K. Janz joined her opinion. The entire Sporthalle saw the moment when Korbut suffered a serious setback. Zuchold was the first person who ran up to her and started to comfort her. The congratulations exchanged by the girls on their way up to the podium were sincere and utterly friendly. This friendship and the aspiration for mutual enrichment will play a significant role in the further progress of women’s gymnastics, which was presented at the Olympics in all its irresistible beauty.

Sovetsky Sport, No. 206, 1972

Спортсменки не имеют к скандалу, разумеется, никакого отношения. Они боролись честно, в духе олимпийских правил. Они дружили раньше и продолжают дружить еще крепче. Об этом на одной из пресс-конференций и от имени советской: команды прямо сказала Т. Лазакович. К ез мнению присоединилась и К. Янц. Весь «Шпортхалле» видел сцену, когда Корбут постигла тяжкая неудача. Первой, кто к ней подбежал и стал успокаивать, была Цухольд. Поздравления, которыми обменивались девушки, поднимаясь на пьедестал, были искренними и предельно доброжелательными. Эта дружба, стремление к взаимному обогащению сыграют не последнюю ‘роль в дальнейшем прогрессе женской гимнастики, представшей на Олимпиаде во всей своей неотразимой красоте.

Nedelia, a Soviet weekly, reported that Sylvia Hlavacek of East Germany was sanctioned for her judging on uneven bars.

Several days have passed since the performance of Olya Korbut. Many other things happened in the Olympic arenas. But the Munich newspapers and television cannot forget the Soviet gymnast. Recently, the International Gymnastics Federation made a decision to disqualify [East German] judge [Sylvia] Hlavacek, who deliberately overestimated the scores of the gymnasts of “her” team on the uneven bars and thereby deprived Korbut of the gold medal on this apparatus.

Nedelia, Sept. 4, 1972

Прошло уже неснольно дней после выступления Оли Корбут. На олим­ пийских аренах произошло много других событий. Но мюнхенские га­ зеты и телевидение не могут забыть советскую гимнастку. На днях Меж­ дународная федерация гимнастики вынесла решение дисквалифициро­ вать судью Клавичека, намеренно завысившего на брусьях оценки гимнастам «своей» команды и тем самым лишившего Корбут золотой медали за упражнения на этом сна­ ряде.

Note: It’s unclear if Hlavacek was really sanctioned. She judged at the 1974 World Championships:

Our gymnastics federation is represented by six judges. Ellen Berger is the head judge for the women’s uneven bars, Sylvia Hlavacek and Gisela Zimmermann judge the balance beam, while Karl-Heinz Zschocke is the head judge for the men’s floor exercise and Rolf Bauch and Eberhard Pollrich are judges for the floor exercise and parallel bars. Today, Monday, the women’s compulsory exercise is on the program.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 21, 1974

Unser Turnverband ist hier mit sechs Vertretern in den Kampfgerichten dabei. Bei den Frauen fungiert Ellen Berger als Oberkampfrichterin am Stufenbarren, Sylvia Hlavacek und Gisela Zimmermann werten am Schwebebalken, während bei den Mannern Karl-Heinz Zschocke als Oberkampfrichter am Boden amtiert und Rolf Bauch sowie Eberhard Pollrich Kampfrichter am Boden bzw. Barren sind. Am heutigen Montag steht die Pflicht der Frauen auf dem Programm.

In 2022, Korbut reflected on her performance in Munich, and she posited that her routine was the best one.

In her autobiography, Korbut states that she deserved a 10 for her routine, but politics got in the way:

It’s hard to believe, but in Munich, they — meaning all of the political powers within the sport — had planned the outcome of each individual event in advance. Lazakovich was to win the beam; Tourischeva, the floor; and the other two events were for the German girls. The Olympics were in Germany, so it was taken for granted that the German athletes would win more than their share of the gymnastics medals. But then I came along and messed everything up by doing so well.

[Note: The Olympics were in West Germany, while her main competitors were from East Germany.]

For example, the results in the uneven parallel bars were purely political. I performed a 10, but they gave me a 9.8 so that I would get second place. If I needed a 9.5 to ensure my getting the silver medal, they would have given me that, instead. In those days, athletes really just played for second place. Obviously, this policy bothered the athletes, but they just accepted it because they had no other choice. Athletes were considered simple cogs in the machine, and easily replaced. […]

Korbut with Ellen Emerson-White, My Story

Balance Beam

GymnastCountryCOAFinalsTotal
1. Korbut
Olga
URS9.5009.90019.400
2. Lazakovich
Tamara
URS9.5759.80019.375
3. Janz
Karin
GDR9.4259.55018.975
4. Császár
Mónika
HUN9.3259.60018.925
5. Tourischeva
Ludmilla
URS9.4009.40018.800
6. Zuchold
Erika
GDR9.3009.40018.700

Gold: Korbut

At a time when a 180° split was not required, Korbut showed splits on her cartwheels and back walkovers.

Also, it’s important to note that she doesn’t pause before her standing back tuck; acrobatics, no matter how difficult they were, were not supposed to interrupt the flow of the routine. From the 1970 Code of Points:

A slow, monotonous exercise with stops before each element of difficulty, enormously facilitates the execution and consequently lessens the value of the exercise.

Silver: Lazakovich

At the 1971 European Championships, Lazakovich’s beam routine was held up as the ideal.

Bronze: Janz

After losing the all-around title when she crashed her beam dismount at the 1970 World Championships, a bronze on beam had to feel like redemption.

Hungary was proud of Császár’s routine.

Once again, another ‘Hungarian  interest’, the beam event was commenced. In her first Olympic appearance, Mónika Császár has already shown herself to be a trained, great gymnast! On this very unstable apparatus, she did not shy away from the big names, the Olympic, World, and European champions, she performed her difficult, risky material with confidence and beauty and finally finished fourth with a 9.6 ahead of Tourischeva and Zuchold!

Népsport, Sept. 2, 1972

Újra ,,magyar érdekeltségű’’ szer, a gerenda lövetkezett. Császár Mónika első olimpiai szereplése során máris rutinos, nagy tornásznőként mutatkozott be! Ezen a nagyon ingatag szeren nem ijedve meg a nagy nevektől, az olimpiai, világ- és Európa-bajnokoktól,  biztosan, gyönyörűen adta elő nehéz, kockázatos anyagát és végül Turiscsevát és Zucholdot megelőzve, 9.6-ot érő teljesítményével a negyedik lett! 

Császár had nice parts in her routine. For example, the rise and lift on her aerial front walkover were incredible.

Note: Zuchold, the 1970 Balance Beam World Champion, did not make it to handstand on her mount.

There were those who thought that Korbut was overscored on beam.

Her [i.e. Korbut’s] 9.9 was dubious in view of little bobbles and lack of difficulty in her mount. The crowd, however, loved it, and she played them for all the applause and acknowledgement she could get.

Gymnast, Jan. 1973

Floor Exercise

GymnastCountryCOAFinalsTotal
1. Korbut
Olga
URS9.6759.90019.575
2. Tourischeva
Ludmilla
URS9.7509.80019.550
3. Lazakovich
Tamara
URS9.6509.80019.450
4. Janz
Karin
GDR9.6009.80019.400
5T. Burda
Lyubov
URS9.5009.60019.100
5T. Hellmann
Angelika
GDR9.5009.60019.100

It was an all-Soviet podium. This also happened on vault at the 1952 Olympics. It also happened on vault, bars, and floor at the 1960 Olympics. This was the last time the Soviets would sweep a women’s podium at an Olympic Games.

Gold: Korbut

Reminder: Before the all-around finals, Korbut had injured her back. The landing on the chest roll had to hurt.

Silver: Tourischeva

Coming into finals, Tourischeva was in the lead. But this was not her best routine. She slightly under-rotated her double full, and her landing on her second pass was not clean.

Bronze: Lazakovich

If you watch the full video, you can see Lazakovich was crying before the floor final.

Korbut briefly mentions this in her autobiography.

I sat down on the bench [after the beam final], very relieved, and then noticed Tamara Lazakovich next to me, crying her heart out. What had I done? Grief and despondency came to replace the anger I had felt only a few moments before.

Korbut with Ellen Emerson-White, My Story

Note: As noted above, according to Korbut, Lazakovich was supposed to win gold on beam.

Korbut enchanted everyone on the floor. 

Shortly afterwards, she got another “compensation” for the lost gold medal in the all-around event, as she won on the floor. Korbut, liberated, as if by the wings of happiness, flew and danced on the carpet.

Népsport, Sept. 2, 1972

Rövid idő múlva aztán újabb „kárpótlást” kapott az elvesztett összetett aranyért, mert győzött a talajon is. Korbut felszabadultan, mintha csak a boldogság szárnyai repítették volna, úgy szállt, táncolt a szőnyegen. 

The bird imagery is apt in the quote above because she was often compared to a sparrow. 

In an interview in Munich, Korbut recalls how every single movement was choreographed for maximum effect:

 “We have a lot of ballet classes. It, however, despite everything, takes only second place in our training program. Our choreographer tells us how to move, how to walk, and how to smile.”

Deutsches Sportecho, Sept. 7, 1972

„Wir haben sehr viel Ballett-Unterricht. Er: nimmt aber trotz allem nur Platz zwei unseres Trainingsprogramms ein. Unsere Choreographin sagt uns dort, wie wir  uns zu bewegen haben, wie wir laufen und wie wir lächeln sollen.”

In her autobiography, Korbut recalls how she and her coach decided to change her music at the last minute. 

Originally, she was performing to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” but they changed her music to Al Hirt’s “Java” just weeks before the competition.

At the end of July, we had a final team rehearsal, in front of a packed house. Everything was real, except for the scores. They were not announced, but merely recorded in the notepads of the team coaches. Afterwards, they would decide among themselves how to rank each of the team members, and decide upon the order of competition.

Ren and I still weren’t happy with the “Bumblebee.” Then something happened that confirmed our reputation among the National Team of being thoroughly unreliable and irresponsible. It was our last day there, and we were having lunch at the restaurant in the Yubileynaya Hotel. During the meal, records were played for background music, and Ren and I suddenly heard a wonderful tune. I didn’t know its title or author, but we both stopped chewing and looked at each other. The music went through me like an electric shock. Why should I do the “Bumblebee?” I didn’t need classical music; I needed this unknown “ta-daram, tadaram, tadaram!”

Seconds later, our lunch forgotten, we were begging the manager of the restaurant to let us have the record.

Poor Evsei Vevrick, our accompanist. He was offended to the very roots of his soul by our request to drop the “Bumblebee.” It was insanity to change a perfected combination, where every move is coordinated with every sound, especially at the last minute. But, Ren adn I loved that unknown melody, and dubbed it “Mischievous Girl.”

The new composition retained a lot of “Bumblebee” movements, but the fresh music filled them with another meaning, taste, scent, and color. A brand-new character appeared. Mischief, cunning, delight, playfulness, joy, unexpectedness, childish coquetry — it was all there. It was as though the music had been written with me in mind.

Ren had to shoulder the storm of outrage from the team leaders. I merely felt the echoes and, in any case, was deaf to reproaches — simply happy at last to have found the right song.

Korbut with Ellen Emerson-White, My Story

The Soviet gymnasts were known for their choreography.

In the floor exercise, it was noticeable how the Soviet Russians rarely struggled with increased acrobatic difficulty. They placed the main emphasis on the dance movements and the choreographic design, which they succeeded in admirably. Tamara Lazakovich surprised with a presentation with approaches of grotesque dance. With 9.80 she took third place.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Number 408, 1 September 1972 Edition 02

Im Bodenturnen fiel auf, wie die Sowjetrussinnen sich nur selten mit erhöhten akrobatischen Schwierigkeiten abmühten. Das Hauptgewicht verlegten sie auf die tänzerischen Bewegungen und auf die choreographische Gestaltung, was ihnen auch trefflich gelungen ist. Tamara Lazakowitsch überraschte mit einem Vortrag mit Ansätzen eines Grotesktanzes. Mit 9,80 belegte sie den dritten Platz.

General Commentary

1972 was the first time there was an all-around final, adding an extra day to the competition. The media blamed the elongated competition format on the poor performances of gymnasts like Tourischeva.

Gymnasts who make it to the final 36 of the combined championships will have to perform three times, while those who make it to the final four times. So the best gymnasts — such as women’s gymnasts Tourischeva, Janz, and Korbut — have appeared before the judges and the audience sixteen times. Among the men, Kato and Kenmotsu twenty-four times! And all this in a competition where people are the judges and thousands of points decide the final winner. This is the reason why the great personalities of the gymnastics team, such as Tourischeva, Lazakovich, Kato, Nakayama, who had previously performed almost flawlessly, were ruined in the apparatus finals.

Képes Sport, Sept. 5, 1972

Azok a tornászok, akik az öszszetett bajnokság 36-os döntőjébe kerülnek, háromszor mutatják be gyakorlatukat, akik pedig még a szerenkénti döntőben is szerepelnek, négyszer. A legjobbak tehát — mint a nők közül például Turiscseva, Janz és Korbut — tizenhatszor álltak a bírák és a közönség elé. A férfiak közül Kató és Kenmocu huszonnégyszer! S mindezt egy olyan versenyben, amelyben emberek bíráskodnak, s ezredpontok döntik el a végső győzelmet. Ennek tulajdonítható, hogy a tornacsoport olyan nagy egyéniségei, mint Turiscseva, Lazakovics, Kató, Nakajama a korábban szinte hibátlanul végrehajtott gyakorlataikat a szerenkénti döntőkben elrontották.

The women’s event finals were quite the spectacle, where the audience forgot about nationalities and enjoyed the show which was far more creative than the men’s final.

In the final of the gymnasts for the championship on the individual apparatuses, there was an internal dispute between the athletes of the USSR and the GDR. In the field of the world elite only the two Hungarians Ilona Békési and Mónika Császár could keep up; “Western” gymnasts were no longer there. Olga Korbut, Ludmila Tourischeva and Karin Janz qualified for all four disciplines. These facts summarize the prerequisites, which, however, most viewers were less interested in. For them, the sporting experience was in the foreground and the focus was on a gymnastic show that could hardly have been more fascinating and high-quality. It was striking that the female gymnasts are far more creative than the male gymnasts in terms of creativity. Object lessons in the subjects of elegance, harmony and presentation could not hurt them. The work of the flag-raisers was monotonous; it was limited to alternating between the Russian and East German flags.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Number 408, 1 September 1972 Edition 02

or. Im Final der Turnerinnnen um die Meisterschaft an den einzelnen Geräten war es zu einer internen Ausmarchung zwischen den Athletinnen der UdSSR und der DDR gekommen. Im Feld der Weltelite konnten nur noch die beiden Ungarinnen Ilona Bekesi und Monika Csazar mithalten; «westliche» Turnerinnen waren nicht mehr dabei. Für alle vier Disziplinen hatten sich Olga Korbut, Ludmila Tourischewa und Karin Janz qualifiziert. Diese Fakten fassen die Voraussetzungen zusammen, wofür sich jedoch die meisten Zuschauer weniger interessierten. Für sie stand das sportliche Erlebnis im Vordergrund und im Mittelpunkt eine turnerische Schau, wie sie faszinierender und hochstehender wohl noch kaum gewesen war. Auffallend war, daß die Turnerinnen bezüglich der Kreativität weit schöpferischer als die Turner sind. Anschauungsunterricht in den Fächern Eleganz, Harmonie und Präsentation könnte ihnen nicht schaden. Monoton war die Arbeit der Fahnenhisser; sie beschränkte sich auf den Wechsel zwischen der russischen und der DDR-Flagge. 

All in all, the top gymnasts performed more difficulty than required, and they did it with good execution.

In Munich, the vast majority of exercises had many more superior elements than the required ones. The effort in this direction was clearly visible, but the result was not always commensurate with the effort. In exercises overloaded with acrobatic elements, the time — and energy — available for the connecting parts was reduced, which in many cases reduced the value and enjoyment of the exercises. The same applied to exercises in which difficult elements were performed with poor technique. However, apart from a few glaring examples, the execution of the exercises was extremely dynamic throughout the field, which made it possible to perform difficult elements that seemed effortless, even those that required a lot of strength.

Népsport, Sept. 23, 1972

Münchenben a gyakorlatok túlnyomó többségében már sokkal több volt a magasra értékelhető elem az előírtnál. Az ez irányba ható törekvés jól megfigyelhető volt, az eredmény azonban nem mindig állt arányban az erőfeszítésekkel. Az akrobatikus elemekkel túlzsúfolt gyakorlatokban csökkent az öszszekötő részekre fordítható idő — és energia —, ami sok esetben rontotta a gyakorlatok értékét, élvezhetőségét. Ugyanez vonatkozott azokra a gyakorlatokra is, amelyekbe a nehéz elemeket rossz technikával hajtották végre. Néhány kirívó példától eltekintve az egész mezőnyre vonatkozóan elmondható viszont, hogy a gyakorlatok végrehajtása rendkívül lendületes volt, ez tette lehetővé a nehéz, sőt kifejezetten erőt kívánó elemek könnyednek ható végrehajtását. 

Floor exercise was the highlight of the Olympics. Uneven bars had developed rapidly. Vault was rather boring still. Nagy, the newly elected President of the Women’s Technical Committee, was going to review the skills being performed on beam.

Note: At the 1972 Riga International, Gehrke did a Tsukahara, and it would quickly become a popular vault in women’s gymnastics. Tourischeva and Grigoraș both performed Tsukaharas during event finals at the 1973 European Championships.

Looking at each of the events individually, the impression is not uniform. Once again, it was the floor exercises that were the most beautiful and the most spectacular. Here, inspired by the music alone, the composers of the exercises generally took greater care to ensure that the connecting parts and the acrobatic elements were harmoniously interwoven. It was a pleasure to see the best performed saltos with clean technique, the scope of which suggests that, with twisted saltos becoming more and more common, double twisted saltos will soon be no surprise.

Perhaps the most rapid development has been on the uneven bars. The technique of the handrail has become incredibly sophisticated, allowing elements and movements that seem unlikely to be performed with ease and confidence. The girls, in possession of clean technique, flew boldly and freely between the two handrails, performing their exercises with almost dancing ease. In Munich, it was on the bars that we saw most of the new elements, original movements and linking elements.

The opposite was true of the vault. It seemed that, despite the rule that only four gymnasts on a team could perform the same vault, the training for vaults worldwide remained on the well-trodden path. As a result, the technique of the vaults has not improved much and variety has been lacking. On beam, the direction of progress is still not encouraging. The compilers of the exercises ignore the fact that the 10 cm wooden beam, which is also hard and rigid, cannot be confused with the floor carpet, which is flexible to a certain extent, and continue to apply the acrobatic material of the floor exercises to the beam. The decision, as in the case of the vault, is in the hands of  FIG Women’s Technical Committee. The newly elected new president, Mrs. Jenőne Nagy (head coach of our women’s team), has this in her plans, among many others.

Népsport, Sept. 23, 1972

Egyenként szemügyre véve a szereket, nem egységes a benyomás. Ezúttal is a műszabadgyakorlatok voltak a legszebbek, a leglátványosabbak. Itt — már csak a zenétől is ihletve — általában nagyobb gondot fordítottak a gyakorlatok összeállítói az összekötő részek és az akrobatikus elemek harmonikus egymásra épülésére. Élvezet volt látni a legjobbak tiszta technikával végrehajtott ugrásait, amelyeknek terjedelme arra enged következtetni, hogy az egyre általánosabbá váló csavart ugrások mellett hamarosan már a duplacsavart ugrások sem lesznek meglepetések.

Talán a legviharosabb volt a fejlődés a felemáskorláton. A korláttechnika hallatlanul kifinomult, ez teszi lehetővé a mármár valószínűtlennek ható elemek, mozdulatok könnyed, biztos végrehajtását. A lányok a tiszta technika birtokában merészen, felszabadultan szálltak, repültek a két korlátja között, szinte táncos könnyedséggel hajtották végre a gyakorlataikat. Münchenben a felemáskorláton láthattuk a legtöbb új elemet, eredeti mozgássort, összekötést. 

Ezzel ellentétes képet mutatott a lóugrás. Úgy tűnt, hiába hozták azt a szabályt, hogy egy csapaton belül csak négy tornásznő ugorhatja ugyanazt, az ugrások tanításában világszerte megmaradtak a jól kitaposott utakon. Ennek következtében az ugrások technikája sem sokat javult, a változatosságot pedig változatlanul hiányoltuk. • A gerendán továbbra sem megnyugtató a fejlődés iránya. A gyakorlatok összeállítói fittyet hánynak arra, hogy a 10 centis, ráadásul kemény, merev fagerendát nem lehet összetéveszteni a bizonyos fokig ruganyos talajszőnyeggel és továbbra is a talajgyakorlatok akrobatikus anyagát viszik fel a gerendára. A fékező szerepére — mint ahogy a lóugrás esetében a serkentőére — a FIG női technikai bizottságának kell vállalkoznia. A most megválasztott új elnöknő, Nagy Jenőné (női csapatunk vezetőedzője) tervei közt — sok más mellett — ez is szerepel.

Arthur Magakian, the Technical Director of the French Gymnastics Federation, wanted to revisit the format for the individual competition system.

The all-around competition (competition 2) needed more difficulty, and the individual finals should have new life. In other words, the scores from previous days of competition should not carry over.

1. Competition No. 2 is only valid if the required content is increased significantly in difficulty.

2. Finals: As in athletics and swimming, qualifying scores should no longer count for finals. They qualify, that’s all!

We must remove the “negative suspense” which has been introduced into all the finals since 1968, because the calculations are established beforehand, we are waiting for the fall of the favorite, it is materially impossible for the one who is 2/10 to catch up through no fault of his opponent. All this is far from the surpassing expected in the final. The top 6 totals would qualify and each gymnast would have the same chance of being an Olympic or World Champion. Starting from scratch we could ask for even more “content in difficulty” (this assessment is, of course, only my own).

Revue EP&S, Nov/Dec. 1972

Système de compétitions individuelles

1. Le concours n° 2 n’est valable que si le contenu exigé est augmenté sensiblement en difficulté.

2. Finales : Comm e en athlétisme et en natation, les notes qualificatives ne doivent plus compter pour les finales. Elles qualifient, c’est tout !

Il faut supprimer le « suspense négatif » qui s’est introduit dans toutes les finales depuis 1968 , car les calculs sont préalablement établis, on attend la chute du favori, il est matériellement impossible à celui qui est à 2/10 de rattraper ce retard sans faute de son adversaire. Tout ceci est loin du surpassement que l’on attend en finale. Les 6 meilleurs totaux seraient qualifiés et chaque gymnaste aurait la même chance d’être champion olympique ou mondial . En repartant à zéro nous pourrions demander encore plus de « contenu en difficulté » (cette appréciation n’engage, bien entendu, que moi-même).

Appendix: An Interview with Karin Janz

Karin Janz answers Horst Drinda

[Note: Drinda was a famous German actor.]

Horst Drinda: How long has the somersault between the bars been around?

Karin Janz: You mean the Radochla roll. It’s been there for eight years. My somersault is a variation of that. He’s harder.

Horst Drinda: You always seem very focused. How do you do that?

Karin Janz: I try my best to prepare well for the competition in every respect.

Horst Drinda: How tall are you?

Karin Janz: One meter and fifty-six. So you should have asked: how small!

Horst Drinda: Do you like to go dancing?

Karen Janz: Yes.

Horst Drinda: What did you do after winning your fifth Olympic medal?

Karin Janz: I have to think about that first. So first I was in the interview room for the international press conference. Then, in the Olympic village, our team management raised a glass with me. And finally we celebrated gymnasts with our coaches.

Horst Drinda: How far can you get in the long jump?

Karin Janz: I haven’t jumped since fourth grade.

Horst Drinda: After gymnastics, which sport is the most interesting for you?

Karin Janz I actually find them all very interesting. But my favorite things to do are figure skating and diving.

Horst Drinda: What do you do professionally?

Karin Janz: I’m studying medicine. My second year of study will start soon.

Horst Drinda: The gymnasts’ joy after a successful exercise is usually very subdued. Why isn’t there cheering?

Karin Janz: Because you’re usually already thinking about the next device — unless you’re done.

Horst Drinda: What is your favorite food?

Karin Janz: What I’m not allowed to eat often.

Horst Drinda: How long have you been doing gymnastics?

Karin Janz: My father started with me when I was six months old. I started competitive sports ten years ago — exactly ten years ago today.

Horst Drinda: Which Soviet gymnast do you have the best contact with?

Karin Janz: I actually have good contact with everyone. Of course, the ones I know best are the ones I’ve met at competitions for years.

Horst Drinda: Did you dress up especially well for the competition?

Karin Janz: Of course. That’s always a part of what we do.

Horst Drinda: How often do you go to the theater?

Karin Janz: Unfortunately not enough. On average once a month.

Neues Deutschland, September 2, 1972


Karin Janz antwortet Horst Drinda

Horst Drinda: Seit wann gibt es den Salto zwischen den Holmen? 

Karin Janz: Sie meinen die Radochla-Rolle. Die gibt es seit acht Jahren. Mein Salto ist eine Abwandlung davon. Er ist schwieriger. 

Horst Drinda: Sie wirken immer sehr konzentriert. Wie machen Sie das? 

Karin Janz: Ich gebe mir die größte Mühe, mich auf den Wettkampf in jeder Beziehung gut vorzubereiten. 

Horst Drinda: Wie groß sind Sie? 

Karin Janz: Einen Meter und sechsundfünfzig. Sie hätten also besser fragen sollen: wie klein! 

Horst Drinda: Gehen Sie gern tanzen? 

Karin Janz: Ja. 

Horst Drinda: Was haben Sie nach dem Gewinn Ihrer fünften Olympiamedailte gemacht? 

Karin Janz: Da muß ich erst mal überlegen. Also zuerst war ich im Inter- viewraum zur internationalen Pressekonferenz. Dann hat im olympischen Dorf unsere Mannschaftsleitung mit mir angestoßen. Und schließlich haben wir Turnerinnen mit unseren Trainern gefeert.

Horst Drinda: Wie weit kommen Sie im Weitsprung? 

Karin Janz: Ich bin seit der vierten Klasse nicht mehr gesprungen. 

Horst Drinda: Welche Sportart ist nach Turnen für Sie am interessantesten? 

Karin Janz Eigentlich finde ich alle sehr interessant. Aber am liebsten sehe ich Eiskunstlauf und Wasserspringen. 

Horst Drinda: Was tun Sie beruflich? 

Karin Janz: Ich studiere Medizin. In Kürze beginnt mein zweites Studienjahr. 

Horst Drinda: Die freude nach einer gelungenen Übung ist bei den Turnerinnen meist sehr, gedämpft. Warum wird nicht gejubelt?

Karin Janz: Weil man meist schon ans nächste Gerät denkt — es sei denn, man ist fertig. 

Horst Drinda: Was essen Sie am liebsten? 

Karin Janz: Das, was ich nicht oft essen darf.

Horst Drinda: Seit wann turnen Sie? 

Karin Janz: Mein Vater hat mit mir angefangen, als ich ein halbes Jahr alt war. Mit dem Leistungssport habe ich vor zehn Jahren angefangen — und zwar genau heute vor zehn Jahren. 

Horst Drinda: Zu welcher sowjetischen Turnerin haben Sie den besten Kontakt? 

Karin Janz: Eigentlich habe ich zu allen guten Kontakt. Am besten kenne ich natürlich diejenigen, mit denen ich schon seit Jahren bei Wettkämpfen zusammenkomme. 

Horst Drinda: Haben Sie sich für den Wettkampf besonders schön gemacht? 

Karin Janz: Natürlich. Das gehört bei uns immer dazu. 

Horst Drinda: Wie oft, gehen Sie ins Theater? 

Karin Janz: Leider zuwenig. Im Durchschnitt einmal im Monat.

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