Sun, 21 Aug 94 Volume 3 :
(COPY) Re: Fwd: Re: training of gymnasts
Bart & Nadia beginnings
Bela & training of gymnasts
Bela and Training
Commonwealth Mens Team Result
English Victory in Commonwealth!!
Fwd: Re: training of gymnasts
Miller Autograph (3 msgs)
Training methods/eating disorders
training of gymnasts (2 msgs)
This is a digest of the email@example.com mailing list.
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 94 03:47:00 UTC
Oh, the stories you could tell me!!! I could only wonder who you were
referring to. Which little lovely drove you nuts? I wonder how much of the
partying and irresponsibility is related to the compulsive gymnast
personality and how much is related to the suddenly free, female spirit. A
lot of non-gymnast college girls go ape when they hit campus. This is not a
new phenomenon. (I take the Fifth.) I think a lot of it is the last stage
of the adolescent transition to independence. Being a college coach you get
the brunt of it, since their parents are no longer there to kick around.
I have always respected the way colege gymnasts could workout, compete,
travel and maintain their academic load. But, having the time to party,
too? I really take my hat off to them.
I don't doubt that some of them could be a royal pain in the butt. I
think I will pass my insights into teenagers on to your successors. It
sounds like they will need them.
I never did know what went on between you and Chizu. I guess it is best
that I don't know, although I am VERY curious. I know Chizu can be strong-
willed and abrupt with her opinions. But were you ever able to understand
anything she said??? After all of these years, I still can't understand
half of what she says.
I'll be working at the score table at the Judge's Cup on Saturday. Are
you coming down that day? Since I am not judging, I guess I can fraternize
with the coaches (Grin). I just hate it when they get on our case for
talking to coaches before a meet. It is such an artificial restriction.
I mean, one has to be CIVIL.
See you soon.
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 10:47 PDT
Subject: (COPY) Re: Fwd: Re: training of gymnasts
> However, I am absolutely certain neither you nor anyone else would argue
> the fact that Karolyi's coaching methods also build better gymnasts than
> anyone else's.
I would argue this fact. After all, gymnasts are supposed to be artistic.
What Bela builds aren't gymnasts, but athletes... big difference.
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 09:46:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Bart & Nadia beginnings
I found a picture in IG about May of '76 that shows Bart kissing a
14-year old Nadia on the cheek while both of them were on the winners podium at
the '76 American Cup. Wow, from there to Olympic gold medal fame and their own
If it's legal and someone can tell me how to add a scanned image on
disk into a sent GIF file, I can post it. I'm not that fluent with computer
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 14:51 PDT
Bela could shed a few pounds himself...
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 16:27:18 EDT
Subject: Bela & training of gymnasts
>Still, if the girl isn't there by choice, it sure is not Bela Karolyi who is
forcing them to be there.
Agreed. It seems many of our top gymnasts in the US have significant
'pressure to perform' from their own families.
> In his book he says, "If you are losing weight by some method other than a
normal diet, you are doing the worst thing you can do to yourself- you are
I would take anything in his book with the weight of a feather. (any
questions, please refer to my review of about 2 months ago - while it was an
interesting book, there were *many* factual and quoting inaccuracies).
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 17:14:03 EDT
Subject: Bela and Training
Obviously suggesting no one would argue that Bela creates the best gymnasts
seems presumptuous. What I meant but failed to say was that no one would
argue that Bela creates champions more frequently and successfully than any
other coach. I made the error of defining best by most successful. Bela
definitely stresses physical preparation more than most coaches before him
and does create incredible "athletes."
My point in writing this wasn't at all to suggest Bela Karolyi is a saint or
his methods are perfect. My argument is by no means that since Bela said
gymnasts should eat right in his book, he can't be held responsible if
gymnasts develop them. My point is that the coach cannot be totally blamed
in this case and this society. There are many influences on athletes,
especially from the home, which can be more negative and as or more powerful
than anything going on in the gym.
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 0:46:33 BST
Subject: Commonwealth Mens Team Result
Commonwealth Games Mens Team Result:
1. Canada 164.650
2. Australia 164.500
3. England 162.375
4. South Africa 151.450
5. Wales 146.250
6. Hong Kong 135.750
7. Nigeria 115.150
Four gymnasts per country and top three scores on each apparatus counts.
Paul Bowler (ENG) was injured in the middle of his floor routine and had
to withdraw, leaving England with only three competitors to complete the
other apparatus. That was when England was leading and the consequence
was England dropped to third in the end.
England team: Neil Thomas, Paul Bowler, Lee McDermott, Bob Barber.
PS This is Hong Kong's last Commonwealth Games appearance of course.
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 94 9:32:11 BST
Subject: Commonwealth Opening
Commonwealth Games - Opening Ceremony
Neil Thomas was the proud flag bearer for England.
Great representation for gymnastics!
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 94 1:59:19 BST
Subject: Commonwealth scores
Ahmm, actually I just got two scores, here they are:
Commonwealth Games 1994 Womens Team comp:
1. England 114.225
2. Canada 113.650
and I THINK the rest was:
5. South Africa
6. Hong Kong
7. Northern Ireland
but don't quote that.
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 02:49:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Eating diorders
Suppose a youngster has their heart set on being a jockey. This profession
obviously neccesitates a certain body type, very small and light. Do we
handicap other horses to accomodate a larger rider because they want to ride
too? This sounds silly, right?
Of course in horse racing this would be considered insanity and would never
be considered (especially with the amount of money trading hands on the
outcome of each race,) but we have a similar (not SAME) situation here.
Artistic gymnastics favors a large strength to weight ratio. That won't
change unless you propose to dumb down the sport. I think that:
1) Everyone seems to be forgetting that the RATIO is what is favored, and
it has 2 factors, weight and strength. I had one gymnast who was by no means
small (about 5'4" and just under 140lbs.) who was State, Regional and
Western National Champion at Level 9 (when Level 10 still had compulsories),
2 years in a row! She got a full ride to Stanford and led them to their
first NCAA apperance in my memory. She was VERY strong, worked very hard on
her weakness's, smart (she knew the code as well as any coach,) and never
made excuses. She s also NEVER weighed, never told to lose weight,
basically never exposed to this hogwash about having to have some dwarf like
2) Doesn't everyone remember great gymnasts like Mary Lou, Szabo,
Boginskyia? They hardly fit the mold. So who is perpetuating this myth? Who
is feeding this to our kids?
Maybe I am alone here, but the only place I see and hear it is in the
magazines, the papers, and on TV. NOT from any of my friends. And everytime
some terrible tredy like Christy occurs, the media sensationalizes the
dickens out of it, and has some feeding frenzy on our sport.
The USGF and NCAA (to name a few) have spent tons of energy educating
coaches about the risks of eating disorders and I believe they HAVE changed
coaches minds. The USGF HAS changed the rules at JO to make it easier to
meet difficulty requirments (as opposed to FIG) so it is not just a
difficulty contest. The sport HAS changed internationally the same way, only
2 passes required on floor, some E's that don't take a huge weight to
strength ratio (a 1 1/2 twist forward on floor), Vaults valued at 10.0 that
require a deft touch, not power (handspring 2/1 twist), etc. The sport has
made adjustments in the code the last two cycles to get gymnasts to be more
diverse in their routines, not just powerful. What more do people want?
I personally DO NOT want to sacrifice seeing the incredable skills being
done,(by dumbing down the code) so we can have 21 year old women compete at
the Elite level.
I am sorry, I don't think we will see many 20 or 21 year old Elites and I
don't think that is bad looking at the college gymnasts. Let's all quit
kidding ourselves. I talked with Jim Turpin of OSU recently ( a man I have
great respect and admiration for,) and even he was telling me how we will
see Colligiate gymnasts at the Elite level now that compulsories are dead.
Oh, really? Doing Comp III? On all four events?
I don't think so.
NCAA Women compete at comp Ib and the scores are so blown out of any
reasonable proportion that I know many judges who won't even judge NCAA
anymore, they have too much self respect. Yes, some of them are GREAT on an
event or two, sometimes good on four. But by and large, this is not a
training ground for international competition. And I refuse to believe that
this emperor has clothes.
I say, shut off the TV, throw out the magazines, encourage the gymnasts to
be the best athletes and human beings they can be, to be proud and MEAN it.
Don't let anyone tell them they can't be good because of how big or small
they are and tell them that respect and a competitive edge comes from
effort and smarts, not just their weight and height. But if you go to the
International level don't expect to be treated with kid gloves, they play
rough. These are the best gymnasts on the planet, they compete at the
edge of human performance, that's why they are the best. Don't expect them
to go 1/2 speed so more people can play.
p.s. I think that raising the minimum age to 16 is pure BS. Doesn't solve a
thing and shortens an already brief career. A 15 year old is a girl, but a
16 year old is a women? Someone explain this one to me!
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 05:13:00 UTC
Subject: Eating Disorders
Regarding Ben's comments about eating disorders and gymnasts:
Most of his comments are right on. There are still some crazy coaches
out there that obsess on eating and ultra-thin bodies. These coaches are
becoming fewer in number, but they are still out there. Also, many teen
girls go crazy over their weight and dieting.
Anorexia is not exclusive to the realm of gymnastics. If there is any
sport that has the corner on the anorexia market it is Rythymic Gymnastics.
Those bodies rival pictures from Auschwitz. They are positively gross.
There is only one way bodies get that thin. Starvation.
Now - I think Jim Turpin might be right about some collegiate gymnasts
competing at the Elite level. They might not make the Olympics, but the
will give it a go.
BTW, regarding your gymnast that went on to Stanford: We should add to
her credits that she was a straight A student in High School and has gone on
to carry a 3.85 in Spanish and International Business. I admire her very
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 94 1:36:37 BST
Subject: English Victory in Commonwealth!!
Commonwealth Games : Women Team Competition :
(No exact scores as yet, will post them as soon as I get them)
I am absolutely over the moon about this! Our girls had an important victory
for the first time ever in our gymnastics history! We started well on the first
piece of apparatus, the beam (Shock horror!) and we ended up leading the
competition nearly from start to finish! (I think the margin of victory in
the end was about 0.5 from the Canadians, but I'll have to wait for
Annika Reeder (ENG) showed her world class floor exercise, scoring 9.725.
Stacey Galloway (CAN) injured her kneecap area (?) during her bars in the third
rotation and had to withdraw from the rest of the competition. She was in tears
(understandably) and was in crutches by the end of the competition.
Stella Umeh (CAN) looked very good and is odds on favourite for the All-Around
The Australians were disappointing because Joanna Hughes was still not in
100% condition after her Worlds accident, and their no.2 Jenny Smith didn't
make the team since she was also injured a few weeks ago.
England : Annika Reeder, Karin Szymko, Zita Lusack, Jackie Brady
Canada : Stella Umeh, Stacey Galloway, Jaime Hill, Lisa Simes
Australia : Joanna Hughes, Ruth Moniz, Salli Wills, Rebecca Stoyel
England Here We Go! Now to take on the World... (Let me get carried away
for a change!) :-)
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 94 17:11:48 EDT
Subject: Fwd: Re: training of gymnasts
Rachele and Robyn,
Thanks for the help, looks like even though I'm sure I clicked on reply
to all, it sent this to only one person. I'm trying again now, the
attachment to this will be the actual reply I wanted to post. Thanks again,
Subj: Re: training of gymnasts
Date: 94-08-17 13:35:41 EDT
Thank you very much for posting the article and your thoughts on elite
gymnastics in the United States. Both were well thought out and supported,
but I definitely disagree with alot of those points.
I don't argue the fact that Karolyi's coaching methods are too much for
some children to handle. Bela pushes athletes to a point where some break
However, I am absolutely certain neither you nor anyone else would argue
the fact that Karolyi's coaching methods also build better gymnasts than
anyone else's. Obviously when dealing with any human being, especially
children, one can not argue that the ends justify the means. Still, there
are a few things that should be considered that would suggest alot more of
the blame for these problems needs to be placed on parents, and alot less
should be directed at Bela.
Consider first the origins of the Karolyi program. When Bela trained
athletes in Rumania, it was a much different environment. His athletes lived
and trained together in a dormitory environment, where Bela could be and was
fully responsible for their diets and emotional health. In many cases, the
parents of these athletes could not even offer them their own time, let alone
any sort of healthy environment. In Rumania, athletics was their best and in
many cases only oppurtunity to achieve a comfortable lifestyle. Political
status defined a person's oppurtunities and abilities, and athletics offered
the extremely rare chance to advance status.
In America, success in gymnastics is not at all necessary to be
successful in life. Parent can afford to raise their children and provide
them with a healthy happy childhood, as well as a chance to become someone
someday. That sounds so basic, but understand that by no means did the
average person in the mining towns of Rumania have any of those benefits.
In America, parents still raise their children, Bela trains them.
Parents are responsible for their children's diets and emotional health.
Bela can contribute to this as well as harm it, but it is not his
responsibility or under his direct control the way it was in Rumania.
Consider that along with a few other points about Bela- I have been
around Bela and children on a few occasions, and can not imagine anyone
daring to claim he doesn't love his athletes. Notice I said his 'athletes'
in Rumania they were his 'children'. Regardless of that however, no one
would claim it was his intent to harm his children. For every athlete you
show me who was damaged or destroyed by Karolyi's coaching, I can show you 2
who became champions under the same system. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at
all arguing that 'Hey, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!'
Now, consider what coach brought gymnastics Mary Lou Retton. No one
would call her slight or skinny, she was in fact much more physically
imposing than any of her competitor. But, she wasn't just bigger, she was
more powerful, stronger and better prepared.
Finally, remember that parents bring their children to Bela for the very
reasons Michelle Campi's mother mentioned in the article. No one says "Bela,
make my little girl a healthy adult who had a storybook childhood." Its more
like "Bela make my little girl a champion." Bela Karolyi does that to the
best of his ability. Doing so does entail some verbal assault that many
would consider abuse. Still, if the girl isn't there by choice, it sure is
not Bela Karolyi who is forcing them to be there. Bela is always very vocal
against any sort of improper dieting. In his book he says, "If you are
losing weight by some method other than a normal diet, you are doing the
worst thing you can do to yourself- you are destroying yourself."
If parents can not recognize when a child is emotionally damaged, Bela
can not be totally blamed. There are many reasons why parents might be
unable or unwilling to notice their children's problems, which I won't get
into here. Just keep in mind that in our society it really isn't at all fair
to blame Bela Karolyi for being unable to correct such problems.
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 94 12:54:43 EDT
Subject: Gymn intro
Hi Gymn, my name is Anne. I am a new member here and I'll explain a little
about my self. I'm 13 and I live in Lockport, IL.
I hope I'm not too young if theres an age limit. I don't train, but I'm close
to level 6. I have been interested in gymnastics for a long time. My favorite
area is women's international. I tape all the compititions I can find on TV.
Talk to you later.
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 19:33:02 EDT
Oh stupid me was working and since I'm going to be gone next week I didn't
buy a TV guide and therefore had no clue that the Men's Tri-meet was going to
be on today. I turned on the TV and after watching the last 25 minutes of
"Jaws 4: This Time It's Personal" (why do those people even go near the
ocean?) I clicked around and found Ivankov on high bar ... I flew across the
living room to start taping it but alas I have missed the first half hour and
90% of the comp. because of that damn big fish. If any wonderful and kind
indivdual (Debbie?) out there taped it please *PLEASE* let me know!!!!
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 21:21:46 EDT
Subject: Miller's Autograph
Frankly I don't really understand the point of this thread but to defend and
clarify let me say that Shannon get's many *many* letters and requests for
autographs and should be whole-heartedly commended for answering them *all*
(or at least she used to before the Olympics) personally. I don't think that
you are quite comprehending the amount of time and effort this wrings out of
her (and any other gymnasts) overtaxed schedule. Messy writing is usually
faster ... just consider yourself lucky to have the autograph at all.
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 17:11:14 EDT
Subject: Miller Autograph
I recently received a personal Shannon Miller autograph. It seems rather
messy. Anyone else know of her auto. being somewhat messy?
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 94 1:55:27 BST
Subject: Miller Autograph
> I recently received a personal Shannon Miller autograph. It seems rather
> messy. Anyone else know of her auto. being somewhat messy?
I had a postcard from her a while back and her handwriting was very messy,
it took me quite a while before comprehending what she wrote. But who can
blame her, having spent most of the times of her hands on those hard 'chores'
of working out...
I also think her handwriting was very child-like. (Had a letter from her
three years back and her writing didn't seem to have 'improved' much at
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 94 23:54:05 EDT
Subject: Miller Autograph
Shannon's handwriting can vary... I've received postcards from her in which
you couldn't even read it for the first ten minutes, and I've also seen her
take her time when she signed a nice 8x10 I took and make it super neat...
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 94 13:28:56
I am a USGF level 6 gymnast. I have pretty much quit gymnastics, except for an
adult class once a week. I really enjoy this class, but I am having a lot of
trouble with my ankles. I love to tumble, but everytime I do, the front of my
ankles hurts. Does anyone know of any strength exercises I could do to correct
this problem? I would appreciate any ideas.
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 1994 14:11:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Training methods/eating disorders
I have read both the People and the SI articles, as well as the NY Times
and all of the postings on here. I have several observations:
-Although Mary Lou never did look like a concentration camp victim, she
was only at 6% bodyfat during the '84 Olympics. Not many of us who hadn't seen
Kerri in person would've suspected she was at that low a bodyfat ratio.
- I think _SI_ was the one that quoted a former gymnast at GAGE that Al
Fong had said "Your stomach sticks out like the Pilsbury Dough Boy". This would
appear very cruel for an outsider who didn't know how hard it is to get younger
gymnasts to pull their stomach muscles in during routines. They look like they
have little potbellies unless they learn to keep their stomachs in. On the
other hand, for Karolyi to say "You belong in the Special Olympics" is sort of,
well, really demoralizing and mean to a kid.
- RE collegiate gymnastics - after hanging out with my friends at state
universities, esp. in warmer climates, there is a BUNCH of problems with
anorexia, bulimia, and other related disorders. There is a lot of emphasis on
body apperances with women, and whether you can fit into your roommates size 2
dress or not. This would never be limited to the gymnastics population in
There are major problems with eating disorders in our sport, but I
would be a lot more concerned about educating the coaches first, then the
gymnasts. Not only about eating habits, but also about how to safely put a
gymnast on a diet and encourage her that way, instead of demoralizing her.
Hey, how come there's no major uproar about the fact Moreno was a
wrestler with an eating disorder of his own? When was the last time you heard
an expose on that? (Moreno was Henrich's boyfriend)
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 94 01:28:00 UTC
Subject: training of gymnasts
I'm still digesting that very interesting post from Abby...
>does anyone out there have any other articles on the training of gymnasts,
Here are some things I found in my "library":
1. "Soviet Sport", James Riordan, New York University Press, 1980:
Innokenty Mametiev (Filatova was his most famous student) was the "first
Soviet coach" to train very young children (4-6 yrs old). In 1977,
_Komsomolskaya Pravda_ accused him of "crippling children spiritually by his
severe regime, of depriving them of their childhood, of being interested
solely in their gymnastics results and of shutting his school doors to all
but the talented."
2. "Lyudmila Turischeva", Vladimir Golubev, Progress Publishers, Moscow,
At her first major meet, the 1967 USSR Cup, "Rastorotsky, loud-mouthed and
unable to control his temper, followed Lyuda's every move with a mercilessly
critical eye, coming down on her like a ton of bricks for the slightest
slip...To an outside observer, it seemed that people like Rastorotsky should
never be allowed to come anywhere children."
Rastorotsky's training sessions "proceed at such a hot pace that an outside
observer may wonder how the girls stand it. But they do, because they are
driven by interest and inspiration."
3. "Olga Korbut", Michael Suponev, Doubleday & Co. (prepared by Novosti
Publishing House, Moscow), 1975:
The author asks Knysh (Korbut's coach) what qualities an ideal pupil would
have. He replies, "To my mind there's no such thing as ideal at all. It's
very important for a girl to be tenacious, capable of working, to pay close
attention to the trainer's instructions and to grasp them quickly. Then it
may turn out that you'll get a good gymnast out of her." In reply to which
qualities interfere with work, he replies, "The most disagreeable is an
inclination to capriciousness. Laziness. A lack of purpose.
Unfortunately, all these crop up quite often and are hard to overcome."
4. "Faster, Higher, Stronger: Women's Triumphs and Disasters at the
Olympics", Adrianne Blue, Virago Press, London, 1988:
"Not everyone liked Renald Knysh. But few doubted his devotion to his
profession. He kept a cardfile of young married couples...who might bear
children whom he might train. He worked his gymnasts hard. There were
people who said he would stop at nothing to produce champions."
"To save her career, when at 16 her breasts budded and she grew taller,
Comaneci instinctively stopped eating. She became the first famous anorexic
5. "Soviet Gymnastics Stars", Vladimir Golubev, Progress Publishers,
"Rastorotsky is a hot-tempered man who flares up easily. He made his girls
train early in the morning, before school, and put them on a very strict
regime. He knew that results are only achieved by dint of hard work."
Innokenty Mametiev: "Back in the days when early specialization was a
controversial issue I was one of its staunchest supporters. Young girls, it
seems, can master very difficult elements. In my opinion, there's no limit
to complexity in gymnastics. Who can gauge the mental anguish trainers go
through? For a long time I nursed the idea of adding even more complexity
to the exercises, but I had no pupil good enough to perform them. Such is
the fate of a gymnastics coach: only very rarely do we come across a really
6. _Sport USSR and World Arena_, Moscow, May 1990:
In an interview with Anatoly Kozeev, head coach of the jr. team, he explains
how the training system works. "We have managed to elaborate a system which
enables the gymnasts to get into shape and master the movements at an early
age, which gives them the foundation for creating highly complex routines
later. We attain results not through intensivity of workouts or through
frequent repetition of the same element, but through rationality of
training, where the main disciplines are trampolining, acrobatics and
choreography. Scientific substantiation of methods also figures prominently
in this work."
Asked about the long hours of training which "make the girls obedient
robots," he says, "We have never crossed the limit of the athletes'
possibilities, beyond which workouts, became torture."
>I keep hearing references to...Nadia's eating disorders but I have never
Back in 1984, "Wide World of Sports" showed Nadia's farewell exhibition in
Bucharest, and Kurt Thomas interviewed her. She said that, at one point,
she didn't eat anything for 9 days (but trained the whole time) because she
wanted to be thinner. And the _Life_ magazine article from a few years ago
hinted at her problem with bulimia.
Elena Mukhina said in "More Than A Game" that her coach Klimenko would
berate her and call her lazy when she said that she was too tired to train
any more or if she was sick. See also Elvira Saadi's "training techniques"
in the same program.
Sorry everyone -- this has become much longer than I intended!
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 06:10:29 -0400
Subject: training of gymnasts
Just a quickie before I head for breakfast...
Debbie writes (in part):
>"To save her career, when at 16 her breasts budded and she grew taller,
>Comaneci instinctively stopped eating. She became the first famous anorexic
I suppose we can play semantics over the word famous (or should we be
consdiering anorexic?), but I believe Cathy Rigby's bullima was the first
publicized mention of eating disorders among gymnasts in the late 70s-early
There, now I've also followed up on the earlier post...
>Back in 1984, "Wide World of Sports" showed Nadia's farewell exhibition in
>Bucharest, and Kurt Thomas interviewed her. She said that, at one point,
>she didn't eat anything for 9 days (but trained the whole time) because she
>wanted to be thinner. And the _Life_ magazine article from a few years ago
>hinted at her problem with bulimia.
Hmm...I thought it was Bart Conner conducting that interview - which could
have well been a spark leading toward their current relationship.
That's enough for now... Boy, a lot has happened since gymn first started
tow (huh?) years ago...
End of gymn Digest