Before Nadia Comăneci’s and Nellie Kim’s perfect 10s at the 1976 Olympic Games, there was a long line of gymnasts who obtained perfect scores at the Olympic Games, the World Championships, or the European Championships. (Originally, the World Championships were called the International Tournament.)
Some of them even managed perfect totals, meaning that they received the maximum score for their compulsory and optional routines combined.
So, here’s a chronological list of the gymnasts who were “perfect” before Comăneci and Kim.
Almost 70 years before Nadia Comăneci and Nellie Kim scored their perfect 10s at the Montreal Olympics, there were several perfect scores awarded during the 1907 International Tournament. (The International Tournament was the original name for the World Championships.)
The majority of those perfect scores were for the French team. Nevertheless, the Czech Sokols, newcomers to the International Tournament, took first, ending the French team’s winning streak.
Oh, and, in 1907, one of the first age controversies in gymnastics occurred.
In 1938, Eugen Mack had yet another perfect score on vault. However, it wasn’t enough to beat the Czechoslovak team.
The Swiss team struggled in athletics (and rings). Shot put, in particular, dashed their hopes of becoming world champions.
Reusch, one of the top Swiss gymnasts, had a particularly rough time with athletics. Though Reusch won four apparatus titles, his scores didn’t count for the team total, which was based on the top six all-around scores. Reusch finished 7th on his team and 24th in the all-around overall. He scored a 0 in shot put (7.45 m).
The men’s competition at the 1928 Olympics was a close battle between Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. It came down to the very last event, vault, on which Czechoslovak gymnast Šupčík fell and on which Swiss gymnast Eugen Mack received a perfect score for his compulsory routine.
Modern gymnastics fans might be surprised to know that one of the countries performed to music. During its ensemble floor routine, Yugoslavia told the history of its nation through music and movement. (Technically, it wasn’t Yugoslavia at the time but rather the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes or SHS for short.)
Of course, there was a fair share of judging drama. It’s gymnastics.
Unfortunately, there were some organizational problems, too. Due to a mathematical error, the wrong person received the bronze medal on rings.
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.
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.