In 1968, the Women’s Technical Committee President Berthe Villancher visited the United States. During her tour, she explained the 1968 Code of Points. This included her unwritten rules and preferences.
Let’s take a look at what she said.
Note: Villancher’s comments have been filtered through Jackie Uphues, who chronicled Villancher’s time in the United States for Mademoiselle Gymnast May/June 1968. (Jackie Uphues might be better known as Jackie Fie to some readers.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from Mademoiselle Gymnast May/June 1968.
Most gym nerds know about Věra Čáslavská’s political stance on the podium at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. (If you don’t, Google it. There’s plenty that has been written about it.)
But did you know that some saw tension between Čáslavská and the Soviet gymnasts already at the 1966 World Championships?
On October 1, 1966, the Feuille d’avis de Neuchatel published a column called “Le sport vu par une femme” (“Sports as Seen by a Woman”), chastizing Věra Čáslavská for her actions on the podium. Here’s what it said…
Recap: Doris Brause’s uneven bars routine created quite the sensation at the 1966 World Championships. When she received a 9.766 on bars, the crowd stopped the meet for over an hour, hoping to coerce the judges into raising her score.
As gym nerds, we’ve heard the story about the 1968 floor exercise final. It goes something like this: “Soviet Larisa Petrik’s preliminary scores were mysteriously upgraded, enabling her to tie Věra Čáslavská for the gold medal on floor.”
Well, the story is more complicated, and the sinister undertones aren’t true. The judging scandal is a myth. Plain and simple.
Let’s take a look at what happened by looking at primary resources from the time.
As Arthur Gander said during the technical committee meeting, “Finally, gentlemen, a gymnast who shows a routine with none of the elements of risk, originality, and difficulty should never win a world championship.”
Let’s dive into the 1966 World Championships and see if Gander’s words came true.