As far as women are concerned, gymnastics officially became an Olympic sport at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, albeit that, unlike their male counterparts, female gymnasts just participated in a team competition, without individual classification. Indeed, it was not until 1958 that the Women’s Technical Committee of the body governing competition in gymnastics, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), published its first official scoring system, or ‘Code of Points’.
The Code of Points was based on a ‘theoretical’ maximum score of 10.00 points but, prior to 1976, a ‘perfect 10’ was considered impossible in any discipline of gymnastics, especially at the Olympic Games. Readers of a certain age may recall that even Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, who became the darling of 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, only achieved scores of 9.90 on her way to individual gold medals in the balance beam and floor competitions.
In fact, such was the belief in the implausibility of a ‘perfect’ score that the Olympic scoreboards of the day were programmed to display just one digit before the decimal point, so could only display scores up to and including 9.99. However, at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci made history when she was award 10.00 – confusingly, displayed as ‘1.00’ on the scoreboard – in the team compulsory round of the uneven bars competition. It was no fluke, either; all told, she would receive seven scores of 10.00, three more on the uneven bars and three on the balance bar, winning gold medals in both those disciplines and the all-around competition.