The President's Note N°9 2016

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The President's Note N°9 2016

September 15, 2016

By Georges Guelzec, UEG President

Dear friends

I cannot help but open this Note with a brief mention of the career and personality of Vera Caslavska.

Her passing, on 30 August 2016, at the age of 74, planted sadness in the heart of a whole generation of gymnasts. Today while we honour the memory of this athlete with impressive medal collection (34 medals in total, 22 golden of which 7 Olympic), I also wish to look back on her exceptional personality and the exemplary model of this committed woman.

This requires us to plunge back into the context of the Prague Spring of 1968 and of Socialism with a human face proclaimed and defended by Alexander Dubcek, of which Vera takes up the cause. In June, she signs the famous Manifest of Two Thousands Words, without suspecting that in August Soviet tanks will invade the streets of Prague. Shocked, Vera goes to the Olympic Games in October in Mexico, where she shines and wins 4 gold medals, tied on floor with Larisa Petrik (URS).

During the award ceremony, her protest move joints the raised fists of Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Vera lowers her head and turns her back to the Soviet flag during the national anthem. A simple move, powerful, which doesn’t pass unnoticed.  

Vera loved justice, liberty, tolerance, life. She embodied that what Olympism values the most in the depths of its mind. Vera didn’t like doublespeak, cheaters, the ignorant corruption that threatens our sport today.  

Vera has passed away but her mark, her message remains alive. Let the generations, old and new, be inspired by her lesson in courage.


To the list of passings, we add the name of Nicolae Vieru, deceased on 2 September. He was a key figure in the European gymnastics landscape, as the President of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation during its most glorious years and as Vice-President of the FIG, from 1976 to 2008. Respected or contested, feared or courted, the ‘Old Lion’, Nicolae Vieru dedicated, gave his life to the sport he loved above all. European gymnastics recognised him for such an engagement.


September in Europe is the month of sport and of course also of gymnastics for everyone, without borders, under the aegis of the second « European Week of Sport », taking place on the continent from September 10 to 24. After the spectacular success of 2015, the UEG has renewed its actions.

All our clubs, almost 35000 according to the last census, are begin solicited. They are invited to discover the programme prepared by our Gymnastics for All Technical Committee, highlighted by the 1000 Cities Flash Mob all over Europe on Saturday 17 September. For more details, our Head of Media at the Lausanne office, Tina Gerets, is at your disposition. 




Be active, get up and move. It’s all beneficiary for your health and mind! Live this European Week of Sport intensively! This is the message of the European Commission.

Continuing with Gymnastics for All and for everyone, I would like to thank the Slovenian organisers of the 5th Golden Age Gym Festival in Portoroz, from 2 to 7 October and the 11th European TeamGym Championships to be held in Maribor, from 12 to 15 October. The Slovenian host takes the place of honour and I’m pleased with this exemplary commitment. Numerous participants will discover a magnificent country and a welcoming and enthusiastic population. Thank you!

Concluding this September’s Note, I would like to remind our affiliated Federations that they have a date with history in October, on the occasion of the 81st FIG Congress. I am not going to remind you anymore what is at stake in these elections. It’s about our own development, our place and our future in the International Gymnastics family. Be vigilant and give the UEG a new occasion to develop its competences and its knowhow to protect gymnastics from the dangers that threaten it, as I have often felt during the recent Olympic experience in Rio de Janeiro.

Avec mes compliments.

Georges GUELZEC, Président de l’UEG