And 60 YEARS HAVE PASSED
Europe was trying to recover from the nightmare of World War II, which deeply affected and bloodstained even the world of sports. And gymnastics, too. Slowly, the “Old Continent” came to life, dressed its wounds and began a new path of dealing with the aftermath of those hard years, but without forgetting it.
It was a period in which the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) was recovering and making plans for the future, trying to resuscitate the sport of gymnastics, which had suffered, for its part, heavy blows. Among other things, it began to contemplate, on the one hand, the resumption of the World Championships, and, on the other hand, the establishment of a new competition at a continental level. To this end, it proposed the creation of the “European Cup,” which would soon be called the European Championships.”
It was not until the 35th Congress of the FIG, held in Vienna in 1956, that the rules of this new competition, called the “European Cup,” were established. A regulation was passed stipulating that this competition would take place every two years, between the World Championships and the Olympic Games, be held in a European city, and be open to all [European] federations affiliated with the FIG.
At the same Congress in Vienna, at Romania’s proposal and initiative, it was also decided to create a similar competition for women in order to be “in balance” with the men. The Romanian specialists made extremely solid and convincing arguments for this idea. As a result, two years later, after the success of the [men’s] “Europeans” in Frankfurt [in 1955], the women gymnasts had their own championships, and the debut was made in Bucharest at Floreasca Arena.
It must be said that at inception of these “European Championships,” gymnastics was under the wing of the International Gymnastics Federation. A European continental forum wasn’t created until much later, in 1982. While there are some doubts about the name of the men’s competition and about the moment when the change occurred, the situation is clear with regard to the women: the debut competition was called the “European Cup,” and the name was changed to the “European Championships” in 1965, in Sofia, with the numbering being preserved. Moreover, the sequence of the European Championships and their format have undergone many changes over the years, especially after 1986, when the European Gymnastics Union [UEG] assumed responsibility for organizing the continental meet, which came under the aegis of the UEG for the juniors in 1986 (Karlsruhe) and for the seniors in 1987 (Moscow).
Up until the late 1970s, the European Championships were reserved for seniors only – the juniors came on the scene in 1978, in Milan – and were scheduled every two years (except for 1990), with the juniors alternating with the seniors. Since 1994, both events have been held in the same place and at the same time.
In 2004, the European Gymnastics Union decided to change the schedule again; one year there would be a Team European Championships (for seniors and juniors) without an all-around competition, and the next year there would be only an all-around competition and apparatus finals (male and female). By coincidence, the even years are for the team competition, and the uneven years are dedicated to individual contests.
A survey conducted by the European Gymnastics Union and published in 2014 revealed that gymnastics had a very large following and was a sport with a very large audience.
In the six decades that have passed since the awarding of the first European title in artistic gymnastics, many gymnasts have come forward and left their fingerprint on the development of this discipline at the world and continental levels. Romania and Russia (USSR) were among the most awarded countries, having the “lion’s share” in terms of number of medals awarded over the years to countries participating in the continental competitions.
When the format of the championships was changed, the numbering method was also changed (keeping successive order for the team contests and the individual contests). It is not considered wrong to refer to the total number of competitions (in 2014, in Sofia, the men had their 36th competition, and the women had their 35th) or the separate numbering is applied, as per the current format.
On January 23, 2015, in Lausanne, the UEG Executive Committee held a meeting during which it decided upon a host city for the 2017 European Championships, the 7th in the individual format. Romania was chosen to be the organizer of the jubilee competition. The year in which we celebrate 60 years since the establishment of the continental women’s competition, which first took place in Bucharest in 1957, and also 40 years since Nadia Comăneci’s second all-around win in Prague in 1977. The 7th continental championships will be held in Cluj-Napoca, from April 19 through April 23, 2017.
So, with the first European Championships for seniors in 1955 in Frankfurt, and the Women’s European Championships in Bucharest in 1957, and then the juniors entering the competitions in 1978 in Milan and also the European Games (2015) and the European Sports Championships ( 2018), the “Old Continent” competitions have brought to the fore, with each competition, gymnasts who wrote and are writing history in the sports world. They have always included Romanians and representatives of the Romanian school, athletes and technicians who have contributed to the development of the sport of gymnastics …
(Editor: Magda Petrescu)