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1968 Code of Points Judging Controversy Olympics WAG

1968: Věra Čáslavská’s Beam Score and the Problems with Judging

Čáslavská’s beam routine during the optionals portion of the (1B) competition caused quite the stir.

Here are the basics:

  • Čáslavská received a 9.65 for her beam routine.
  • The crowd protested for over 10 minutes.
  • Her beam score was raised to a 9.80 after Berthe Villancher, the president of the Women’s Technical Committee, interceded.

There was a lot on the line. These scores counted towards:

  • The team standings
  • The all-around standings, which was the sum of a gymnast’s compulsory and optionals scores
  • Qualifying for event finals
  • A gymnast’s event finals score, which was the average of her compulsory and optionals scores + her event finals score

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and discuss how this one routine illustrated so much of the judging dysfunction that existed in the 1960s.

Čáslavská, 1968 Olympics
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1968 Olympics WAG

1968: The Women’s Compulsories Competition in Mexico City

On Monday, October 21, 1968, the women’s compulsories opened the gymnastics competition at the Olympics in Mexico City.

And, as we’ll see, the crowd was very invested in the competition.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 21: Natalia Kuchinskaya of the Soviet Union competes in the balance beam of the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team compulsory during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 21, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Event Finals in Mexico City

In 1968, the men’s event finals took place on Saturday, October 26, the very last day of competition at the Olympic Games.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 26: (L to R) Silver medalist Noriaki Nakayama, gold medalist Sawao Kato and bronze medalist Takeshi Kato of Japan celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Floor apparatus final during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 26, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Optionals Competition in Mexico City

The Swiss newspaper L’Express summarized it best:

Until the last moment, it was impossible to predict who would win the individual all-around victory. However, since the start of the evening, it was certain that the Japanese would win the team competition.

Jusqu’au dernier moment, il était impossible de prédire à qui irait la victoire individuelle. Par contre, depuis le début de la soirée, il était certain que les Japonais l’emporteraient par équipes.

L’Express, Saturday, October 26, 1968

Let’s take a look at what happened.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 24: Sawao Kato of Japan competes in the Floor of the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Individual All-Around final during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 24, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 Compulsories MAG Olympics

1968: The Men’s Compulsories Competition in Mexico City

When we think of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, we think of the questionable judging in women’s gymnastics and the political protest of Věra Čáslavská on the podium after the floor finals.

Over the years, a piece of FIG gossip has been forgotten. It happened after the men’s compulsories. Arthur Gander, the FIG president, threatened to ban a coach from competition.

So, let’s dive into the men’s compulsories, eh?

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 22: Mikhail Voronin of the Soviet Union competes in the Rings of the Artistic Gymnastics Men’s Team Compulsory during the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games at the National Auditorium on October 22, 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
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1968 Olympics

1968: The Tlatelolco Massacre and the Prague Spring

In Věra ‘68, Čáslavská returned to the National Auditorium in Mexico City, the place where she won four gold medals. While there, the tour guide said:

[Čáslavská] was an icon for us. We felt she was one of us, because at that time, in both our countries, there were student uprisings. That is why she was so dear to us. The fact that she won — it strengthened the bond between all the oppressed people. You will always be in our hearts.

During the 1968 Olympic Games, the Czechoslovak athletes meant a lot to a large portion of the Mexican audience. To understand why, you have to understand what happened in Mexico City ten days before the Olympics commenced.

Mexican soldiers reading the newspaper ‘La Prensa’ in the street in Mexico City. Mexico City, October 1968 (Photo by Mario De Biasi;Sergio Del Grande/Mondadori via Getty Images)

The headline reads, “Army’s firefight with students.”
Categories
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.

Categories
1968 East Germany MAG Perfect 10 WAG

1968: Zuchold’s and Janz’s 10.0s at the East German Championships

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.

Zentralbild Koch 8.7.1968 Halle: DDR-Meisterschaften im Frauenturnen. Bei den Finalwettbewerben an den einzelnen Geräten, mit denen am 7.7.1968 in Halle-Neustadt die deutschen Frauen-Turnmeisterschaften der DDR zu Ende gingen, holte sich die Achtkampfmeisterin Erika Zuchold (SC Leipzig) auch die Titel am Schwebebalken und im Bodenturnen (Foto). Während der Meisterschaftstage erreichte die Leipzigerin insgesamt sechsmal die Höchstnote “10”.
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2017 FIG Congress

2017: Japan’s Reaction to Watanabe’s Election as the FIG President

On November 6, 2021, at the 83rd Congress in Antalya, Turkey, Watanabe Morinari will face off with Farid Gayibov for the FIG presidency. 

When Watanabe was elected president, it was a big deal. Let’s take a look at what was said in the Japanese press at the time.

Watanabe Morinari