Gymnastics: The 1982 Nationals

By Song Litai

China Sports, Dec. 1982: The 1982 National Gymnastics Championships which took place in Beijing August 18-24 were keenly contested among 200-odd men and women gymnasts (including adults and juniors) from 24 administrative units of the country and the People's Liberation Army. Those in the adult division had distinguished themselves at the zonal contests held earlier this year finishing among the top six in men's and women's team or individual events, or among the top 18 in the all-around. They were so closely matched that some of the competitions remained wide open until the last minutes. The Shanghai women's team, for instance, won the team title with a slim margin of 0.05 points ahead of the PLA. Li Ning, the men's all-around champion, edged out runner-up Tong Fei by a mere 0.075 points.

Compared with the performances in past Nationals, there was a marked improvement in the quality of compulsory exercises, with most competitors coming up to the standard in technical execution. The Beijing squad, which had a well-balanced lineup although none of its members were considered peerless, came first in the compulsory exercises with an impressive score of 283.60 points, which made up for its slight arrears in the optionals and contributed much to its ultimate victory in the team competition.

The optional exercises presented by gymnasts from different parts of the country also showed much improvement over those exhibited at last year's Nationals. World-class stunts like "back salto with 1 1/2 turns to regrasp bar" and "one-arm giant circle with turn" over the horizontal bar, "double back saltos to forward salto" on the floor, and "Thomas flair on single pommel and travel backward" on the horse were successfully performed by a number of competitors. Such manly moves as Tkachevs were seen beautifully executed on the uneven bars.

A crop of young talents came forth to challenge the old-timers. Hubei's Xiang Yu and Shanxi's Yang Yanli, whose names had been little known to the gymnastics circles, outvied some of the seasoned campaigners to place third and fifth respectively in the women's all-around event. (See their stories in the following pages. - Ed.) In the men's dividion, up-and-coming stars like Xie Tiehua of Jilin and Lou Yun of Zhejiang served notice of their exceptional potential.

Winners of the adult events in the championships:

Men's team: Beijing - 566.30 points
Women's team: Shanghai - 378.90 points

Men's all-around: Li Ning (Guangxi) - 115.975 points
Women's all-around: Ma Yanhong (PLA) - 77.80 points

Men's floor exercise: Tong Fei (Jiangxi)
Parallel bars: Tong Fei
Horizontal bar: Tong Fei
Pommel horse: Li Ning
Vault horse: Li Ning
Rings: Huang Yubin (Heilongjiang)
Women's vault: Zhu Zheng (Shanghai)
Uneven bars: Ma Yanhong
beam: Xiang Yu (Hubei)
Floor exercises: Wen Jia (PLA)