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1971 European Championships USSR WAG

1971: An Interview with Lazakovich and Tourischeva before the European Championships

Just days before the 1971 European Championships, Nedelia, a weekly illustrated newspaper, ran an interview with Tamara Lazakovich and Ludmilla Tourischeva. (By the way, Lazakovich quit gymnastics, and the coach had to convince her to come back.)

In the same issue, another article looked at the state of Soviet gymnastics, comparing Lazakovich’s and Tourischeva’s distinct styles: “Wave and stone, poetry and prose, ice and fire — Tourischeva and Lazakovich.”

In addition, the article lamented that 13-year-old Nina Dronova could not participate in the European Championships due to her age, and it worried that she might tire of gymnastics before she had her chance to shine on the international stage.

Reminder: At the 1970 FIG Congress, the women’s artistic gymnastics delegates voted to lower the competitive age to 14.

What follows is a translation of the article on the state of Soviet gymnastics, as well as the interview with Lazakovich and Tourischeva (Nedelia, October 11, 1971).

Ludmilla Tourischeva, 1970 World Championships
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1971 Age Riga International USSR

1971: Lazakovich and Nakayama win the Inaugural Riga International

From April 23, 1971, until April 26, 1971, gymnasts from around the world gathered in the capital of Latvia for the inaugural Riga International. The competition took place a couple of weeks before the men’s European Championships, so the top European teams were reluctant to send their top gymnasts. Nevertheless, Japan sent one of its top gymnasts: Nakayama Akinori. 

On the women’s side, Tamara Lazakovich won the all-around, but much of the attention centered on 13-year-old Nina Dronova, who performed a rare double full on floor. A fall on an aerial front walkover on beam kept Dronova off the all-around podium, but she bounced back to win two gold medals during the event finals.

Reminder: At the 1970 Congress, the FIG lowered the competitive age to 14.

Sovetsky Sport, Apr. 27, 1971
Thanks to The Medal Count and Olga for helping me track down the articles from Sovetsky Sport.
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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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1970 Books USSR

1970: A Book Review of Latynina’s Autobiography, Balance

In 1970, four years after her last World Championships, Latynina published her autobiography titled Balance. The book is somewhat meandering, but it captures Latynina’s mentality as a gymnast and as a coach.

What follows is a translation of a book review, as well as a few quotes from the book itself.

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1969 USSR

1969: Head Coaches Larisa Latynina and Vladimir Smolevsky on the USSR Championships

After the USSR Championships in October of 1969, the Moscow newspaper Nedelia interviewed the head coaches of the women’s and men’s national teams: Larisa Latynina and Vladimir Smolevsky.

But instead of asking them about their respective teams, Latynina had to comment on men’s gymnastics, and Smolevsky had to comment on women’s gymnastics. It’s fascinating to see what each coach admires about the other discipline and what irks them, as well. For example, Smolevsky despises “bad ballet” on floor.

What follows is a translation of their remarks. (Thanks to Luba for her assistance.)

Categories
1969 East Germany Japan Politics USA USSR

1969: East Germany vs. Japan’s Foreign Office

The Japanese Gymnastics Association wanted to invite East Germany to a competition with the Soviet Union and the United States. However, Japan did not have diplomatic relations with East Germany until May of 1973.

So, what would happen if an East German gymnast won the competition? Would the meet organizers still hoist the flag for a nation that Japan didn’t recognize?

Unless you lived through the Cold War, it’s hard to imagine the complicated diplomatic hoops countries had to jump through. The following article painstakingly details many of the scenarios that the Japanese meet organizers had to consider when inviting East Germans to a gymnastics competition.

The East German Flag, 1959 – 1973
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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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1980 Gym Nerdery USSR

1980: Nellie Kim Chooses Her Fantasy Gymnastics Team

It’s the holiday season in my household, so here’s my gift to the gymnastics community: an article in which Nellie Kim chooses her ideal gymnastics team.

Here are the seven gymnasts she chose and why.

Datum: 25.07.1980 Copyright: imago/Sven Simon Nelli Kim (Sowjetunion); Nelly, UdSSR, Vdia, quer, Olympische Spiele Moskau 1980, Sommerspiele, Geräteturnen, Kunstturnen Moskau Turnen OS Sommer Damen Einzel Porträt Randmotiv Personen
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1968 Age USSR WAG

1968: Why Is the Soviet Union’s National Team So Young?

Why is our national team suddenly so young? It seems to be a recurring question in the Soviet press in the late 1960s, and there were several explanations.

In an article from 1967, one writer suggested that it’s because the Soviet Union was trying to keep pace with the likes of Věra Čáslavská, who made her international debut at the age of 16 at the 1958 World Championships in Moscow.

The articles from 1968 told a different story.

In the first article below, the explanation will sound more familiar to today’s gym nerds. It has to do with the presumed innocence and naïveté of female gymnasts before they reach adulthood.

In the second article, Larisa Latynina offers a slightly different rendition of the rise of the teenage gymnast.

And finally, we’ll take a look at an Estonian article about Larisa Petrik and what she reportedly did with her pigtails.

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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.