1st International Gymnastics Competition
for the Prize Offered by Moscow News

By A. Ivanov and I. Shifrin

Moscow News, No. 13, 1974   The First Event -- The First Surprise.  The Soviet girls were, of course, favorites.  They were Elvira Saadi (22), Lena Primak (15), Svetlana Grozdova (15) and Lena Abramova (14), who replaced Lyubov Bogdanova, injured while training the day before.  They started with the beam.  Naturally, everybody thought Elvira, the leader, stood the best chance, for last year she captured the overall national title.  But it was just then, right after the starter's pistol went off, so to speak, that Svetlana Grozdova stunned her formidable rival with a score of 9.7!  No one thought she could do it. However, her routine included some original and complex elements and the judges gave her her due.  Saadi performed after Grozdova.  She tried hard to do better but came up with only 9.4.  Psychological shock?  Maybe.

That was the tournament's surprise number one.  The Soviet team was next scheduled to do the floor exercises which is Elvira's "speciality."  Everybody was all agog, wondering whether she'd outpace Svetlana.  Saadi scored 9.7, but failed to snatch the lead because Grozdova lost only 0.1 point to her and was still ahead in the overall total.

It was now obvious that a duel between these two girls would decide the destiny of first place, for all the others were hopelessly behind.

Then the girls did the vault.  Here they drew and went over to the next exercise with Grozdova having 28.6 and Saadi 28.5 points.

Saadi was the first to perform on the asymmetrical bars.  This gave her the opportunity of rattling her rival with an excellent performance.  But the strain was, probably, more than she could stand, for she made a most elementary error -- jumping to the floor in the middle of her combination.  The judges were strict and gave her 8.35.

After that Svetlana had no need to take risks for she was already out of reach.  However, sport is sport.  Just when she seemed to have the cat in the bag, Svetlana fumbled, her toe caught on the bar and it took quite an effort for her to maintain her balance when landing.

The audience burst into applause when Svetlana Grozdova finished with a total of 37.9 points.  And although the girls from the second shift had not yet performed, it was now clear that she was the overall winner.  This forecast proved accurate.

Svetlana is an 8th-former at a Rostov-on-Don school.  The winner's dream is a ticket to Varna.  At our tournament Svetlana was also presented with an electric table clock, the prize for the best girl gymnast at the Moscow News competition, founded by the Japanese newspaper Chunichi.

The Young Dare.    It is said that 14-16 is just the right age to stun the onlooker with the most sophisticated elements in gymnastics.  These girls haven't yet learned the meaning of fear.  They demonstrate such jumps, pirouettes and vaults that one can only wonder where their frail young bodies get the strength and shrewd calculations.

Abramova is only 14.  But she performs the double salto in the floor exercises.  No other girl gymnast ever did that at competitions before her.

The girls likewise dominated in the other teams but they were no match for the hosts.  Even the GDR girls were weaker than their Soviet counterparts.  For example, Sigrid Trantow (GDR) placed only 10th (36.05) in the combined event.

The finals for the separate events always generate very keen interest so that the Palace of Sports had practically a full house on Sunday.  Applause seemed never to stop in the stands and you should hear the unanimous shout "stand put!" when the gymnast would perform a hair-raising dismount!  The festive atmosphere infected the athletes who once again demonstrated the most complex elements.  Both the experts and the audience took a liking to Kyle Gaynor, the American girl, when she performed on the beam.  Though placed fourth, she demonstrated things that merit the greatest attention.

Renata Stodulkova (Czechoslovakia) left a very nice impression.  The charming fair girl placed fourth in the floor exercises.  The journalists elected Renata "Miss Moscow News-74" and presented here with a Palekh lacquerware coffer.

Well, and what about Svetlana Grozdova?  She won 3 silver medals.  She was near the top on the beam but fell from the treacherous piece.  And only the day before she started her triumphant march to victory precisely from the beam.

Uncompromising Struggle.    The 40 men gymnasts from 16 countries went into battle after the girls were awarded the prizes.  Although men compete in six events, the seasoned masters prefer to stop up the tempo at the very outset and have the others try and catch up with them.  That's why the three main rivals -- gymnasts from the USSR, Japan and the GDR -- started on a very high note indeed.  E. Kenmotsu (Japan) got 9.5 in his favorite event -- the horizontal bar.  M. Tsukahara, his teammate and Olympic champion for the horizontal bar -- conceded only 0.1 point to him.  R. Mikaelyan was first among the Soviet gymnasts who started with the long horse.  He registered the same number of points as Tsukahara.  V. Klimenko and P. Shamugiya, leaders in the USSR team, scored 9.35 points each.  The GDR team commenced with the pommel horse.  W. Thune, the GDR champion, emerged on top with 9.3 to his credit.  That was how the leading sixsome took shape and they were all scraping for a fight.  But the very next event changed the situation -- E. Kenmotsu, the world overall champion, injured a leg and did not show up for the floor exercise and, eventually, for the long horse as well.  However, K. Horide, 1973 Chunichi Cup winner, was a good stand-in for his teammate.  His original floor exercises, in which he demonstrated extremely high somersaults and pirouettes, won him 9.4 points.

The Leader Emerges.    This happened after the second event when V. Klimenko (USSR) emerged to the fore.  He totaled 18.8 in the long horse and parallel bars, but P. Shamugiya, another Soviet gymnast, 1973 USSR Cup winner, started gradually to win ground.  The Japanese gymnasts M. Tsukahara and K. Horide "stumbled" on the pommel horse.  The judges gave them 8.9 and 8.4 respectively.  However, E. Kenmotsu, who dropped out of the combined event, hoping to win in the separate event, was splendid.  W. Thune, 23-year-old gymnast from the GDR, went into a determined attack after the third apparatus.  He moved into second place after scoring 9.35 on the parallel bars.  Now only V. Klimenko was ahead of him, with a point gap of only 0.85.  After four apparatuses the destiny of first place began to clear up.  But behind the leader things were in a mess.  M. Tsukahara and P. Shamugiya were both breathing hard down his neck, lagging a mere 0.1 behind, with a total of 36.85 each.  The last but one event for the USSR team was the pommel horse.  Klimenko did his job in a clear-cut and confident style.  His 9.5 points deprived his rivals of all hopes, but Viktor turned down all congratulations, saying that it does happen that the rings (his next event) may well snap.  The Japanese realized that there was no room for retreat and demonstrated an A-1 performance on the long horse, showing some of the tricks they had thus far kept up their sleeves.  W. Thune and P. Shamugiya took up the challenge and scored as many points as the Japanese.

Fight to the End.    The last apparatus summed up the ultimate result.  W. Thune got 9.05 points for the floor exercises.  Our P. Shamugiya had to score 0.2 more to leave him behind, and Shamugiya did this.  Meanwhile M. Tsukahara completed his exercise on the parallel bars with a spectacular dismount.  The judges awarded him 9.4.  That meant that he did manage to overtake the GDR gymnast in the combined event.  That was an example of the acme of skill and ability to fight to the end, which is a feature of the Japanese gymnastics school.  However, according to the competition rules, preference was given to W. Thune.  And Viktor Klimenko, the first winner of the metal-chased platter, the main prize in the men's competition, climbed to the top step of the award dais.  He passed through the grueling gymnastics competition evenly, without any mistakes, totaling 56.65 points.  Paata Shamugiya was runner-up with 55.5.  Wolfgang Thune (GDR) and M. Tsukahara (Japan), only 0.05 points less, shared third place.

When it was all over, B. Shakhlin, formerly a well-known gymnast and Olympic champion, gave the following resume -- "The young gymnasts demonstrated a truly manly disposition.  Real sportsmen can develop only in such an uncompromising struggle and putting all they have into it."

No One Wished to Make Room.    The men were granted the right to compete in the finals next day.  We asked the chief in each of the judges' teams to comment on the winner's performance in each separate event. 

The floor exercises were always considered a "Japanese" realm.  Both Japanese finalists, K. Horide and M. Tsukahara, demonstrated well-worked-out programs, although the latter obviously lacked complexity, for which the judges gave him a lower mark.  V. Klimenko's clear-cut end program enabled him to surge forward, but only until J. Crosby (USA) went through his paces.  His excellent composition gave him 9.7 points and the gold medal.  Klimenko was runner-up, with K. Horide placed third.

Vladimir Smolevsky (USSR):  The distribution of prizes confirms to the real state of training as it stands today.  Crosby is a well-merited gold medalist, his is a modern composition with a fair amount of complex elements, well arranged and suited to his physique.

Klimenko was in the lead before the pommel horse finals.  But he was a mere 0.2 points ahead of the last one in this sixsome.  It was assumed that E. Kenmotsu would be our champion's main rival.  But the "horse," alas, again expressed its wayward character, and both Olympic champions failed to win prizes.  The gold, silver and bronze medals went to P. Shamugiya, R. Mikaelyan and W. Thune.  R. Richard, a gymnast from Cuba, placed fourth, merits praise.

H. Neumann (GDR):  It's a pity the Olympians lost.  Precision secured victory for P. Shamugiya.  He did look best of all when compared with the others.

The performance by V. Shchukin, member of the USSR Olympic team, was unfortunate.  His mistakes on the horse and the parallel bars placed him 7th in the combined exercise.  But he shone in his "speciality," the rings, chalking up 19.05 points in the finals.  The silver medal for the rings went to R. Mikaelyan and the bronze to M. Tsukahara.

Kim Yoi Se (KPDR):  I liked to see all the finalists demonstrate original dismounts but Shchukin was best in the swings.

Three events passed, but V. Klimenko, the overall champion, didn't win a gold medal in any of them.  The turning point came on the long horse.  The average for two attempts gave Viktor 9.275 points and victory.  He had to make room, however, for K. Horide, who also totaled 18.625.  Both received gold medals.

Z. Leszczynsky (Poland):  It was most pleasing that no "pure leader" was found on precisely our apparatus.  It was simply impossible to choose the better of the two.  They both deserve the title of the strongest.

In the parallel bars, however, none of the finalists could show anything new or complex, so that the judges "grudged" them good marks.  Success on the first day permitted Klimenko to maintain the lead and win one more gold medal.  W. Thune and P. Shamugiya placed second and third.

Sandor Urvari (HUN):  Klimenko was on a par with the other two prizewinners for the difficult elements included in his combination, but his performance was slightly better.  That assured him first place.

It is hard to recollect when and where the Japanese had lost the horizontal bar at big international competitions.  No one thought things would turn out differently this time either.  Unfortunately, this was the sole event in which only one Soviet gymnast, P. Shamugiya, managed to qualify for the finals.  He could not, however, even put up a fight for a prize.  The E. Kenmotsu and M. Tsukahara duet from Japan seemed best suited for the job.  But W. Thune (GDR) managed to worm in between them at the very last moment.  The final trio was E. Kenmotsu, W. Thune and M. Tsukahara.

Chiba Keigo (JPN):  My countrymen, it seems to me, performed equally well.  However, E. Kenmotsu's combinations were far more complex, which the judges could hardly overlook.

All the medals and prizes established by Moscow News for the final winners were distributed.

The cut-glass cup, set up by the Moscow Gymnastics Federation, for the most interesting program on the long horse was awarded to K. Horide (JPN).

The men's competition proved to be very interesting.  All the gymnasts displayed tremendous willpower.  No one wished to retreat without stiff resistance.  That, of course, is the main and the most joyful result of our competition.

This page was created on August 3, 2001.
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