Artistic gymnasts, men and women from 70 countries are in Montreal this week to compete in the sport’s World Championships.Listen
He said it all began when Tourism Montreal approached him four years ago to know if there would be interest in holding the event, in tandem with Montreal’s 375th Anniversary.
“There’s no longer a real perfect score”
He said he and his colleagues reflected for awhile realizing that this would fall the year after the Rio Olympics, and that Canadian athletes were always travelling abroad for competition.
They decided on two aspects: “The Canadian gymnasts that want to retire after Rio, one more year and you will retire at the World Championship in Montreal in front of family and friends; the young ones who are starting their Olympic cycle, the road to Tokyo 2020, same thing, you will start in Montreal your road, in front of friends and family” Richard Crepin explained.
And they promised the Canadian gymnasts an extravaganza of a show. Crepin says already the Canadian teams are thrilled with the staging and presentation.
Nadia Comaneci is the event spokesperson and she has been walking around the event,
“Everybody calls her ‘Nadia’, Crepin says, and he says she is very generous to the young athletes.
The sport has changed since her performance,
Crepin explains that formerly, the code of points started at 10 and worked back, with deductions for bent knees or toes not pointed enough.
Now he says it is more like the scoring for diving, with two scores, “So you have a score for difficulty, a score for execution, and they put the two together, so there’s no longer a real perfect score because depending on the level of difficulty that you’re doing, the score fluctuates.” says Crepin.
“The skills are just amazing!”
He knows the sport intimately. Richard Crepin was a gymnast in 1976. He says he has devoted his life to gymnastics.
He chuckles when asked about the evolution of the sport.
The equipment has evolved, particularly the vault, which is now a vault table to better ensure the safety of the athletes.
And he says, “the skills are just amazing!”. He says the margin of error that the gymasts have now in some of the events “is incredibly thin”.
Crepin says one of the stars of the event, Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, known as “the Flying Dutchman” was already dazzling the spectators this morning with his performance on the high bars.
“Equipment has changed, skill level has changed drastically” Crepin says, as well as the structure of the gymnasts, noting the men used to be bulky and really muscular.
Now he says some of the champions on rings, for example, are powerful but not that muscular.
The men and women compete differently.
Men compete in six events, whereas women compete in four.
For the women it’s routines on the floor, the beam, the vault table and the uneven bars.
For the men it’s the floor, the vault table, the pummel horse, steel rings, parallel bars and high bars.
Crepin says most men would say their least favourite apparatus is the pummel horse, whereas the women would tend to say the most challenging is the beam.
These World Championships are being streamed on CBC Sports, and the events continue until Sunday, October 8th.
With files from CBC