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1938 WAG World Championships

1938: The First All-Around World Champion in Women’s Gymnastics

The women’s competition at the 1928 Olympic Games was solely a team competition. As was the women’s competition at the 1934 World Championships. As was the women’s competition at the 1936 Olympic Games.

At the 1938 World Championships, in addition to the team results, a women’s individual all-around champion was crowned for the first time at a major FIG competition. (Note: Previously, there had been individual champions at competitions like the Workers’ Olympics, which were unaffiliated with the FIG.)

Let’s take a look at what happened on June 30 and July 1.

Vlasta Děkanová and Alois Hudec, 1938, Národní muzeum – Historické muzeum, Czech Republic
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1934 MAG World Championships

1934: Math Problems and Two Perfect 10s during the Men’s Competition at the World Championships

Confusion bookended the 1934 World Championships in Budapest.

Before the competition started, Germany showed up at the FIG Congress, wanting to become a member of the FIG and participate in the 1934 World Championships.

That was not the typical protocol. Usually, countries didn’t seek admission just hours before a competition started. So, the FIG Congress had to answer the question: if the German federation becomes a member one day, can German gymnasts compete at the World Championships the next day?

That was the first source of confusion. After the competition ended, the second source of confusion cropped up. The gymnastics community realized that the initial results had been miscalculated, and all the results had to be recalculated.

Eugen Mack, Floor Exercise, Zürcher-Illustrierte
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1934 MAG World Championships

1934: The Rules for the Men’s Competition at the World Championships

The 1934 World Championships were the first time that the competition was called the “World Championships.” Previously, the competition had been known as the “International Tournament.”

In 1934, the men competed on the six apparatus that modern gymnastics fans know and (maybe) love. In addition, there were three track and field events.

Let’s take a look at the rules.

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1934 WAG World Championships

1934: Women Compete at the World Championships for the First Time

At the 1934 World Championships in Budapest, women at the World Championships for the first time. 

Only five women’s teams participated, but remember that only four men’s teams participated at the first International Tournament, the competition that would become known as the World Championships. (In fact, 1934 was the year that the International Tournament was renamed, becoming known as the World Championships.)

The format for the women’s competition was quite different from modern competitions. There were javelin throws, partner acro exercises, and national dances.

Here’s what happened on June 1 and 2, 1934.

The Hungarian team
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1950 WAG World Championships

1950: Replacing the Women’s Vault Judges at the World Championships

In 1950, women competed at their third World Championships, and guess what happened.

The vault judges botched the scoring so badly that they had to be replaced.

Who said that old gymnastics meets were boring?

Oh, and unlike the 1934 and 1938 World Championships, the women did not compete in track and field events in 1950. (The men did.)

Helena Rakoczy, 1950
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1950 WAG World Championships

1950: The Women’s Rules for the World Championships

While the men had a Code of Points in place for the 1950 World Championships, the women did not. But they did have a book of General Instructions. What follows are the highlights.

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1950 MAG Perfect 10 World Championships

1950: A Perfect 10 in the Men’s Competition at the World Championships

In 1950, Hans Eugster scored a perfect 10 on the parallel bars at the World Championships. It was the first 10 under the very first men’s Code of Points (1949)

The competition wasn’t without its judging controversies that spilled over into the pages of the French and Swiss newspapers.

Kunstturn-WM in Basel 1950: Barren-Sieger Hans Eugster (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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1950 World Championships

1950: Hungary Attempted to Bar Yugoslavia from Competing at Worlds

Even before the 1950 World Championships started, there was drama at the World Championships. Hungary was supposed to send a large delegation of gymnasts, but they didn’t. Instead, a small group of officials came and tried to bar Yugoslavia from competing.

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1950 MAG WAG World Championships

1950: A Preview of the World Championships in Basel

Competition previews are a tried and true genre of gymnastics sports writing. They give you a snapshot of who are the favorites, how certain countries’ gymnasts are perceived, and what the supposed expectations of the judges are. Plus, they are fun to read after the competition and see how much the author got right and wrong.

Let’s take a look at the preview for the 1950 World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. It was written by Jean A. Latte and was printed in the French Moroccan newspaper La Vigie Marocaine on July 7, 1950.

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1903 WAG World Championships

1903: Women’s Gymnastics at the First World Championships

Female gymnasts did not compete in the International Tournament or in the Belgian Federal Festival. But they did perform, and according to the newspaper reports, they were crowd favorites. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at those newspaper reports, as well as some of the challenges facing women’s gymnastics in fin-de-siècle western European society.

Note: I’m going to refer to it as “women’s gymnastics” in this post, but we won’t be discussing the performances of adult women. Rather, the gymnasts were typically young girls.