What ever happened to dual meets in the U.S.?
Remember back in the 80’s and early 90s’, when every year we used to have a big dual meet between the USA and USSR? It was always held in the United States, and it was a big televised event (sometimes live) in which we saw the very best gymnasts from these two countries– JUNIOR AND SENIOR – go head to head in a really but often dramatic competition. There weren’t any age restrictions because it wasn’t the world championships or Olympics, so we always got to see some of the up-and-coming stars from each country get their chance in the spotlight. This competition served as a “coming-out-party” for many future stars – including Olympic champions.
To give you some examples…the 1983 USA men’s team in the dual meet consisted of Peter Vidmar, Scott Johnson, Mitch Gaylord, Tim Daggett, and Jim Hartung. The USSR team consisted of Yuri Korolev, Dimitri Bilozerchev, Artur Akopyan, Vladimir Artemov, and Alexander Dityatin. The 1990 USA women’s team in this competition consisted of Kim Zmeskal, Shannon Miller, Betty Okino, Amy Scherr, Hilary Grivich, and Agina Simpkins, while the USSR team boasted some of the best female gymnasts of all time…Oksana Chusovitina, Natalia Laschenova, Tatiana Gutsu, Tatiana Lysenko, Tatiana Groshkova, and Natalia Kalinina. What a field!
Of course the USSR was dismantled after 1992, but I don’t see why we don’t reinstate this competition as USA vs. Russia! It would be a fantastic competition on both the men’s and women’s sides, and it would give some of the young stars from each country the chance to go head to head – not mention gain some incredibly valuable experience.
We used to have dual meets with Romania back in the 90’s as well, and in 1994 and 1995 we had a couple of “tri-meets” with Ukraine and China…those are all gone too. This year the U.S. women did have dual meets against Germany, France, and Japan, and in 2005 they had duals against Japan, Switzerland, and Great Britain…hardly much of a competition though!
I think it’s time to get some serious dual competitions going again that are held in the U.S., are televised, and are COED. I think Russia would be a terrific choice, as would Romania, China, and Japan – all of whom have strong teams on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Brandy Johnson Floor 1989 USA vs. USSR
Natalia Laschenova Floor 1987 USA vs. USSR
Kim Zmeskal Vault 1990 USA vs. USSR
Oksana Chusovitina Floor 1990 USA vs. USSR
Natalia Kalinina Floor 1990 USA vs. USSR
Tatiana Groshkova Beam 1990 USA vs. USSR
Tatiana Gutsu Beam 1990 USA vs. USSR
Who would be on your teams today?