The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1983 World Championships

Welcome to the live blog for the third meet watch in our 12 Days of Gymnastics series, featuring the 1983 world championships!

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1:43 pm. That’s it for 1983! That was a fun one. 1983 SOVIETS FOR LIFE. JUSTICE FOR NATALIA.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at 3 pm ET with the 2005 U.S. Classic, starting with the seniors and then also watching the juniors. A full schedule for the 12 Days of Gymnastics meet watch is here.

If you want to “rewatch” today’s live blog, start from the bottom and read from the bottom up!

1:41 pm. Zoya Grancharova BUL FX: Tucked full-in, a bit low. Triple full, a tiny bit short but does a mostly solid job with it. Double tuck is big but messy, though I guess not by 80s standards. Another great routine, but she’ll end up in fifth.

1:40 pm. A 10 for Ecaterina Szabo to take the title over Olga Mostepanova! Boriana Stoyanova in third and Maxi Gnauck fourth. They’re still gonna show the last competitor even though they’re basically like “who cares.”

1:39 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU FX: Piked full-in is HUGE. Big straddle jump down into her choreo. “What about that splits?!” This commentator sounds like one of the commentators in A League of Their Own. 1.5 through to 1.5 to punch front tuck, excellent, more than enough room to clear the corner. Getting right into the judges’ faces now with her final choreo bits before her tucked full-in to finish, a bit low but a truly incredible routine.

1:38 pm. A 10 for Olga Mostepanova!

1:35 pm. Olga Mostepanova URS FX: Nutcracker time! Piked full-in with a stumble back RIGHT into the corner. I miss handstand pirouettes! I keep missing the beginning of her double full series, I think it’s like a front full stepout through to the double full but I’m  not fully sure. Finishes with a double tuck with a step. Lovely work.

1:33 pm. Boriana Stoyanova BUL FX: The polka dot leo is back! This looks like a dress I wore to kindergarten. Omg her music is SO 80s. Ooh, she has some cool choreo. Piked full-in, chest quite low but solid landing otherwise. This is so fun. Time for the electric guitar, just in time for her whip to double tuck! Also a bit low but good enough. Double full side pass, MAG-style. Good double tuck to finish. That was a lot of fun.

1:31 pm. Lavinia Agache ROU FX: Her music is TEQUILA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’m screaming. Tucked full-in to open, so much power. into a front walkover, YES LAVINIA!!!!! Now her music is changing to ABBA I think? I’m living. This is ridiculous. Double tuck into a lunge. This was fab.

1:30 pm. Olga Mostepanova deservedly gets the beam gold, followed by Hana Ricna with the silver, and Lavinia Agache with the bronze.

1:26 pm. Olga Mostepanova URS BB: She has Listunova vibes in her overall look and I’m here for it. Full handstand pirouette in a perfect split with the most perfectly pointed feet that she tick tocks into her flight series, a back handspring to Onodi. Literally the best opening beam sequence that exists and she deserves gold just for this. Hits the bhs loso today, then a back walkover out of it. Split leap across the entire beam. Front aerial, tiny check at the hips, scorpion hold up to relevé, this routine is a DREAM. Double tuck with a lunge back but honestly perfection otherwise. This goes into one of my all-time favorite routines EVER.

1:24 pm. Maxi Gnauck GDR BB: Back handspring mount, steps back out of it. Leg up slightly on her standing back pike. Split leap. Very straight legs on her bhs loso but she’s off-center and falls. CRIES IN GERMAN. I think she still gets fourth because basically everyone fell in this final except the three who got on the podium? Double full to finish.

1:22 pm. Lavinia Agache ROU BB: One-armed back handspring mount, split leap into some choreo, get it. Bhs loso, actually think she’s doing a back tuck step-out, not a layout stepout now that I see it from this angle. In an earlier part of this meet I thought she was just doing an ugly layout, but it looks pretty well-tucked here. Creative movement in her low choreo, then does a Valdez kind of walkover back up, and dismounts with a double tuck, a little low with a hop.

1:21 pm. Hana Ricna TCH BB: Cool mount series, short on her leaps but everyone was in the 80s as we learned at the American Cups. Good flight series down into a Korbut. Cartwheels into a handstand balance down into a split on the beam, very nice. Bhs back tuck, tiny check, but pretty great, turns into a leap, then dismounts with a double tuck with a step forward.

Everyone chants 10 after every routine. IS THIS THE SEC?????

1:20 pm. Maxi Gnauck wins bars gold, and the Romanians are again tied for silver. I’m mad we didn’t see any of the other bars competitors?!

1:19 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU UB: Big Tkachev, then a half turn down to the low bar, then the release with 1.5 twists on the low bar (non-salto obvs, she just releases). Form on the double tuck is a little iffy but good routine overall.

1:18 pm. Maxi Gnauck GDR UB: Deltchev to belly beat to straddle hecht down to the low bar, love that for her. Does something cool from the low bar right into a pike vault over the high bar which is superb. Another good routine that mixes the old style UB with the new style. Hits the full-twisting dismount. That was fabulous. Gets a 10!

1:17 pm. Lavinia Agache ROU UB: Does the mixed grip to Jaeger super well again and the rest is nice, good landing on the double tuck dismount.

1:16 pm. Boriana Stoyanova wins the gold, and the Romanians share the silver.

Here’s Stoyanova’s ridiculous leo.

Screen Shot 2020-05-23 at 1.15.58 PM

1:15 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU VT: Handspring pike half with a large lunge back.

1:14 pm. Lavinia Agache ROU VT: Tucked tsuk half and a big hop on the landing. I don’t think we saw her first vault?

1:13 pm. Maxi Gnauck GDR VT: Lovely tsuk layout with a hop back.

1:12 pm. Boriana Stoyanova BUL VT: Her leo is HILARIOUS HAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s red with white polka dots and a white collar. Anyway I missed her first vault but I think she had a tucked tsuk full for the second? It was pretty rough. But the first must have been fantastic because she wins. SPOILER ALERT.

Olga Bicherova URS VT: I saw a tsuk layout kinda but also missed most of this.

1:10 pm. Natalia Yurchenko URS VT: Yurchenko tuck full, a little low on the landing, has to take a big lunge, but she still gets a 9.9 because what are deductions in the 80s?! It’s fine, she’s a queen.

Something shady with the VHS recording here so it just went back to show this vault like five times hahaha.


1:08 pm. Wrapping things up with event finals! The link is here, and I’ll press play at 1:10 pm.

1:07 pm. The Soviets take the title a little more than a point over the Romanians! and the East Germans are in third.

1:05 pm. Natalia Yurchenko URS FX: Tucked full-in is PRETTY low, lunges forward out of it. Switch leap, lovely in her turn sequence. Whip through to double tuck, cowboyed and low, but gets the landing. Double tuck to finish is the most solid pass.

1:04 pm. Olga Mostepanova URS FX: Nutcracker music hahaha. But like, jazzier. There’s some 80s instruments in there to eff it up. Tucked full-in is a little low. Ooh, she’s doing piqués without the turns as part of her choreo, like how we practice them in ballet before adding the turns, love it. Has a pass that has a half in it I think, through to a double full, great. Double tuck to finish is low again but loved this routine.

1:03 pm. Maxi Gnauck GDR UB: Deltchev into a belly beat into a hecht down to the low bar, we’re watching in slo-mo so I’m not as terrified whilst typing. “Once the Elfin Dwarf of the East German team, she’s now the tallest” lmao this commentary isn’t problematic at all.

Lavinia Agache ROU VT: Tsuk tucked 1.5, GORGEOUS in the air, just a step to the side on the landing.

1:02 pm. Mirela Barbalata ROU VT: Tsuk full, and I think it’s a true layout! Pretty sweet.

1:01 pm. Szabo’s 10 just came in on floor and the BBC dude is like “we ALL saw that OOB” lmao.

12:59 pm. Natalia Yurchenko URS BB: Tiny check on her bhs loso, and then she walks over into her split hold. Clean full turn and again with her gorgeous arm movements. Her arms, she leads their movements with her fingertips which is very ballet, especially when most gymnasts lead their arms with their wrists. That’s the difference I think. Great Yurchenko loop. Stuck the double tuck. I’m more than okay with a 10 here.

12:57 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU FX: Piked full-in, chest down, but well-landed, jumps into a lunge. Nice big straddle jump. Very slow and controlled turn in a 180 split. 1.5 through to 1.5 to punch front tuck and her TOE goes OOB, GOD. But I think she gets a 10 here anyway HAHAHA. Maybe the Americans were right to complain about Eastern bloc judging bias in the all-around. Double back to finish and the BBC guy is like “there’s room for a triple!” Maybe not but it’s still great.

12:56 pm. Natalia Ilienko URS BB: Switch leap directly rebounded into a gainer back tuck but she falls!!!! Bhs loso when she gets back on. Sissone into a little jump after. Moves creatively from one end of the beam to the other in her choreo, then does a scorpion hold up on relevé which is gorgeous. Front aerial. Slow back walkover into the back handsprings into her double tuck dismount. Aside from the fall this was art.

12:55 pm. Maxi Gnauck GDR VT: Tucked tsuk full, it’s almost laid out. Solid landing.

12:53 pm. Olga Bicherova URS BB: Handstand balance that’s super fancy in how she moves but she stumbles a bit coming up out of it. Bhs loso, bobbles and grabs the beam but stays on. Good leap series. Gainer back handspring, gainer back handspring, gainer back handspring, three in a row, omg, that was super cool. Very clean double tuck.

12:52 pm. Albina Shishova URS BB: Does a tuck full series!! Big bobble but she fights through and holds on. Front aerial, good leaps series, a couple of forward rolls which wouldn’t really count for anything now but would still be awesome to see as part of choreo. Holds a planche in split, then does a wolf turn hahaha. Wolf turns in the 80s make me laugh. A TUCK FULL-IN DISMOUNT?!!?!?! IN 1983?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! ALS;KDJFA;LSKDJF;L WHAT?!?!?!?!

12:50 pm. Natalia Yurchenko USR UB: Tkachev to Deltchev oh my GODDDDDDDDD. I might be shrieking. Double full dismount. This was great. 9.95!

12:49 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU BB: Has some great flexibility holds and movements. Four back handsprings in a row! Crazy that in just 10 years this would change to girls basically doing four losos in a row. NOOOOO, she comes off on her bhs loso!!!!!! SZABOOOOOO. Hits the double tuck but UGHHHH.

12:47 pm. URS UB: I missed who this was. Did a cool belly beat right into a pirouette back down to a belly beat but none of the big releases from her and she’s not very cute on this event. Did a full-twisting front dismount but was kind of a mess.

12:46 pm. Lavinia Agache ROU BB: One-armed back handspring mount! Love. Bhs loso, legs aren’t cute, but that’s fine. Stag ring jump and then runs into a punch front, in 1983! Nice handstand balance in a split. Solid double tuck to finish.

12:44 pm. Tatiana Frolova URS UB: Nice stalder work on the low bar. Double tuck is stuck cold, just a bit cowboyed, as if the judges care. 9.95!

Olga Bicherova URS UB: Clear hip hecht is lovely, Tkachev and a straddle back after. Short on some handstands and has lots of piked hips in her swing, but did well, hit the toe front half dismount.

12:43 pm. Natalia Yurchenko URS VT: Stuck a tucked Yurchenko full and this BBC commentator is losing his MIND because she got a 10, as did two gymnasts before her, AND two Romanians got 10s, so he’s honestly about to cry I think.

12:42 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU UB: Tkachev, then does a little half turn down to the low bar. I love when they release the bar and twist back in the day, like no salto like you’d see on a Def, but they literally just release and turn in the air then catch again, not super difficult but still cool. Another 10!

Olga Bicherova URS VT: The BBC has her last name as Bitcherova LOL. She does an excellent handspring pike half.

12:40 pm. Olga Mostepanova URS VT: Handspring front pike half, runs a bit back out of it. Does the same vault again a second time and it’s much better on the landing.

Lavinia Agache ROU UB: She has the same mixed grip into Jaeger, LOVE. Can we see this again instead of just the random blind changes? Also a great double tuck dismount. 10!

12:39 pm. Laura Cutina ROU UB: Nice Tkachev. OOH, goes right into mixed grip from a handstand and swings down right into a Jaeger, that was AWESOME. Double tuck to finish! That was fab.

12:38 pm. Simona Renciu ROU UB: Really a beautiful routine, just a little icky on her dismount legs, a toe pike half I think.

Albina Shishova URS VT: Yurchenko tuck full with a hop back, a bit messy.

12:37 pm. Natalia Ilenko URS VT: Handspring front tuck half stuck COLD. 9.9

12:36 pm. Tatiana Frolova URS VT: Tsuk layout was pretty good. Landing was great actually.

12:35 pm. Starting with the team final now!

Lisa Young GBR UB: Wow, they’re showing the Brits?! Amazing. Oh, because it’s BBC coverage.

Anyway, she hit, but literally no one else did, so there’s a little montage of British gymnasts falling on everything LOL. Rude. They finished 17th I think.

12:34 pm. This coverage is wrapping up, so here’s the link for the team final, and I’ll press play at 12:35 pm.

12:33 pm. Ooh, they’re interviewing Yurchenko. She’s I think 19 here? She’s talking about how she was super injured basically forever and couldn’t get back to competition until 1981, thus not really peaking until she was a bit older than usual.

12:32 pm. “The American protest has been disallowed” hahahahahaha. They protested McNamara’s bars score, which I mean, yeah, under today’s NCAA mindset, if you’re gonna give Yurchenko a 10 on floor with visible form deductions, then I guess McNamara also “deserved” one but McNamara didn’t have a problem-free routine so like, yes, they should have deducted? I love that the code back then was basically just what judges felt like doing.

Yurchenko wins it!!! Followed by Mostepanova, and then Szabo. Johnson was the top American in 11th place.

12:29 pm. Julianne McNamara USA UB: Has a Tkachev and then lots of back and forth between the bars, also does a Jaeger. A little iffy on the handstand out of her stalder, but fights through it and lands the toe front half dismount well. 9.9!

She had issues on beam and floor here I think, though we didn’t see them.

“The Americans are lodging a protest against Eastern bloc judging bias” HAHAHAHA of course they are. #MURICA! I wish we could still launch complains about bias mid-competition. IMAGINE THE FIGHTS.

12:27 pm. Natalia Yurchenko URS FX: Opens with a full-in because she’s fabulous. Shows some nice dance after, and then does a whip through to double tuck, one of the least cowboyed double tucks here. Random back handspring side pass, and then she finishes with a double tuck, this one is a bit more cowboyed, but a solid landing.

Of course our girl gets a 10.

12:24 pm. Now we’re checking out the Budapest hot springs.

Olga Mostepanova URS BB: Handstand pirouette in a split that she tick tocks over into a back handspring to Onodi, gorgeous and so so so fluid. I always forget that she was doing Onodis before Onodi. Has a wobble on her bhs loso. Shows lots of flexibility and nice relevé on everything. Beautiful. Hit the dismount.

The art of dance has truly been lost in this sport. I don’t mean in terms of choreography but just in how gymnasts move. I’m one of the most vocal “gymnastics isn’t ballet!!!!” people and I don’t want to see a million faux-balletic floor routines, but god, things like arm carriage and relevé and these little mannerisms like Mostepanova had just make the aesthetic of beam and floor so much nicer.

12:23 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU VT: Handspring front pike half with a solid landing, and she gets another 10! I mean, an NCAA 10, but get it Szabo.

12:21 pm. Kathy Johnson is being interviewed and is a GEM as always. She’s 24 here and is like yeah I could retire but I love the sport so I’m gonna stay. “I fit right in with the rest of the world even though they’re seven years younger,” she says, and thinks she can get even better by 1984.

Kathy Johnson USA VT: Gorgeous tsuk layotu with a hop back. 9.9!!! The judges stan.

12:20 pm. Maxi Gnauck GDR VT: Our first look at the East Germans. Does a tucked tsuk full that goes a bit crooked and she has a hop. Cathy said she’s had a “poor meet” not that we know anything about it.

12:19 pm. For some reason we’re watching Dmitry Bilozerchev’s entire performance. I’m literally Judge Judy tapping my watch right now.

12:17 pm. Yurchenko leads going into the final rotation. She’s hoping to become the sixth straight Soviet all-around champion and I THINK IT’S GONNA HAPPEN FOR HER!!!111!!! GOD it crushes me that she never got to go to the Olympic Games.

12:15 pm. Boriana Stoyanova BUL FX: Piked full-in, heel grazes the line but she keeps it in. Solid pass. Her music is SO 80s I’m crying. Whip to double tuck, a bit cowboyed with a little bit of a stumble but again solid on the difficulty. Double full basically as a side pass. Finishes with a super high double tuck. So good.

12:14 pm. More Budapest fluff! They’re like “look at how amazing the subway is here!” Tbh I’m pretty sure these are the same exact trains I rode on when I was last in Budapest in 2017 lmao.

12:13 pm. Natalia Yurchenko URS BB: Had a beautiful layout stepout series and then is SO gorgeous and fluid in her movement on literally everything she does. Oh my goodness. Transverse back handspring to back hip circle around the bar, aka the YURCHENKO LOOP! We stan an innovative queen. DOUBLE TUCK ahhhhhhhh, SO GOOD, just a bit cowboyed, but SO SO SO GOOD. 9.9!

12:12 pm. Olga Mostepanova URS UB: She had a huge Tkachev in her routine but much of this routine is of the belly-beating variety so I have no idea what’s going on. When she catches, it looks like her feet actually hit the low bar which is crazy and just shows you how difficult release skills were at this time.

12:11 pm. Ecaterina Szabo ROU FX: Piked full-in, bounces back out of it but INSANE difficulty on this floor. 1.5 through to 1.5 to punch front, DAMN, basically the Aly Raisman pass of 1983. Tucked full-in to finish!!! What a badass.

According to Cathy the floors basically JUST got springs but they’re obviously still nothing like today’s floors.

Szabo gets a 10!!!!!!!

12:10 pm. Hungary fluff! They’re like we have a half hour to broadcast the 8 billion gymnasts competing here but wanna hear the entire history of Hungary?!

12:09 pm. Tanya Service USA VT: Tsuk layout, a little piked down and a huge lunge back, but she came in as an alternate and gets a 9.8!

12:08 pm. Julianne McNamara USA VT: Our girl does a tucked tsuk full, big leg separation on the pre-flight and a kind of low landing with a big step to the side, but she gets a 9.85.

12:06 pm. Lavinia Agache ROU VT: She does a tsuk tuck 1.5 I think? I can’t count twists in tsuks tbh.

Julianne McNamara has a 20 liter bottle of water. She’s pissed about how her competition has been going but she had the flu and is just like hoping she doesn’t pass out basically. Cathy asked her if she feels like there’s too much pressure without Mary Lou Retton, Diane Durham, and Tracee Talavera on the team this year due to injuries, and she’s like, actually giving us a thoughtful response because she’s a queen.

12:05 pm. Cathy Rigby’s telling us who to watch. Olga Bicherova got three-per-country’ed out which is always a punch in the face.

We’re jumping in two rotations into the competition?! What was this 80s nonsense of not showing us the entire meet?!

12:03 pm. This is the last major competition before the Los Angeles Games and literally no one here will be there because politics destroys lives.

12:02 pm. It looks like we’re just getting RIGHT INTO IT here, this broadcast is like “Sorry we don’t have time to waste on fluff because it’s 1983, hold onto your pants.”

Oh there’s a little bit of fluff. The Statue of Liberty for some reason even though this is happening in Budapest. I guess this is the ABC Wide World of Sports intro? Not specific to this meet hahahaha. Too bad. ABC is like “we don’t recognize communism, have some FREEDOM with your gymnastics.”

Brought to you by Texas Instruments!!

12:00 pm. The opening screen grab on YouTube for this meet is, fittingly, Natalia Yurchenko. Here’s the link in case you don’t want to scroll down from two minutes ago. 🙂

11:58 am. It’s the perfect day to watch a meet. It’s pouring outside right now, I’ve got the cozy blankets and some pickles, and I’m so excited for the competition I’ve been most looking forward to watch for literal years. I love the 80s Soviets but am more familiar with the late 80s because I have gone back to watch a few of those competitions…but I’ve never made it as far back as 1983 even though this is, like, THE YEAR for Soviet gymnastics. I’m honestly squealing.

Here are the links!

I’ll start with the all-around final pressing play at 12:02 pm and will share the links and the “press play” start times for the team and event finals when we get there.


5 thoughts on “The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1983 World Championships

  1. Yurchenko was 18 in 1983. She was incredibly strong at 14 years old, in 1979 and then disappeared until 1982.
    Here at the Spartkiade in 1979 (sorry the vide is very bad).


    • Her career makes me so sad…I feel like I’ve always just ASSUMED that she went to the Olympics. It’s crazy to me that she didn’t. I’m glad she got this world title but god that vault injury destroyed me.


  2. Pingback: The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1983 World Championships – SportUpdates

  3. I rewatched this competition a few weeks ago. It feels weird saying that I think that Natalia Yurchenko is one of the most underrated gymnasts ever given that she has a whole vault family to her name. But it seems like even though every gymnastics fan knows her name, she doesn’t get talked about as an actual gymnast much, and that’s a shame, because she was so fantastic.


    • Yes! I was thinking the same thing while watching this. She was so exceptional, lots of power, lots of artistry, it’s SO unfortunate that she didn’t have the career she should have due to injuries. I think had she won an Olympic medal maybe she’d be more talked about but without that Olympic credential people just see her as “less than” those who HAVE Olympic medals which is crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

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