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Moscow 1980 - Key Moments

The first male "perfect 10"

Prior to the 1980 Games in Moscow a sensation had been caused when Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 in an Olympic event, namely the uneven bars.

Yet, it was only a matter of time before that honor would be conferred upon a male gymnast of similar caliber.

In Moscow, he showed up in the shape of the Soviet Union's 22-year-old Alexander Dityatin, who received a 10 in the vault during the all-around competition. At last, the Soviets, who had played decisive roles in the development of Olympic, and indeed, world gymnastics, were awarded their perfect 10. The Leningrad-born gymnast would also walk away with numerous medals.

Dityatin's perfect score brought him worldwide attention, but at the time, it seemed that someone would eventually match Comaneci's feat. Indeed, following his 10 triumph, no less than four other such scores were awarded in gymnastics events in Moscow: Stoyan Deltchev on the rings (Bulgaria), Alexander Tkachyov (Soviet Union/Russia) on the horizontal bar, Zoltan Magyar (Hungary) and Michael Nikolay (East Germany) on the pommel horse.

Secret of success

It must have been sweet music to Dityatin, who for so long had languished in the shadow of his compatriot Nikolai Andrianov, to be told his historic score. What perhaps gave the handsome Russian even more satisfaction, however, was his haul of eight medals following the events in Moscow. With a total of three gold, four silver and a bronze, he added even more prestige to his perfect score by becoming the first person to win as many medals in one Olympiad. Not bad for someone who, as a child, was not considered an outstanding sporting prospect.

The secret of his success was consistency. For Dityatin, unusually tall for a gymnast (1.74 m), an advantage lay in his mastery of the rings. Having been in the shadow of Andrianov for so long, he had worked long and hard to arrive at his present athletic state. This soon showed in the all-around event (comprising six different categories), in which he excelled and placed first on the rings and the vault. Combing those results with second-place showings in the horizontal bar and the parallel bars, and third places on the pommel horse and the floor exercise, Dityatin won gold and gave a solid indication of his well-deserved rise since a fourth place in the Montreal Games four years earlier.

His other wins came in the team combined event (gold); the rings (gold); the horizontal bar, parallel bars, vault and pommel horse (all silver); and finally, the floor exercise (bronze).

For all his hard work and determination, even if he was never to be given the chance to defend any of his titles at the next Olympics in Los Angeles, Dityatin made an indelible mark on his sport. Along with compatriots Borys Shakhlin and Andrianov, and Sawao Kato (Japan), he may rightly be regarded as one of the few gymnasts to have introduced a certain finesse into men's gymnastics.

His haul of eight medals in 1980 has been equaled only by American swimmer Michael Phelps in the 2004 Games.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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