Thursday, March 24, 2016

1998 - Historic Vote Moves Trampoline Towards the Olympics

An account of how the trampoline became an Olympic event
and how the United States gained eligibility to have athletes 
attend the Olympic Trials for trampoline.

World Acrobatics Society Newsletter - Fall, 1998, page 1

World Acrobatics Society Newsletter - Fall 1998, page 14
Trampoline was added to the gymnastic program for the first time 
at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

1978 - 5th World Age Group Games, Honolulu

From all the enthusiasm, participation, happy faces and outstanding organization experienced at the 5th World Age Group Games, it certainly qualified to be among one the significant events in trampoline history! 

Over 375 athletes attended the competition that was held at Kapiolani Park, in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 19-23, 1978. Besides hosting the events of Trampoline, Synchronized Trampoline, Double-Mini Trampoline and Tumbling - - the 5th Games expanded to include Spaceball and Rebound Racing. As if that wasn't enough excitement - - Sports Acrobatics joined in adding the four events of: Girls Pairs, Boys Pairs, Mixed Pairs, Girls Trios and Men's Fours. 

In preparation, $100,000 worth of equipment was shipped to Hawaii by the event's sponsor, the Nissen Corporation. With so much equipment to tumble, flip and bounce on it was a wonder that competitors found the time to enjoy local amenities; but they did! By holding the competition in Kapiolani Park, which was located directly across the street from Waikiki Beach, the athletes soon discovered that even between events they could easily take a cooling dip in the ocean!
A sampling of events found at the 1978 5th World Age Group Games.
    When the 5th Games organizers learned of Hurricane Fico's path that was heading directly towards the islands, they quickly arranged for a special Hawaiian benediction as part of the opening ceremonies. 
The island gods must have smiled, as the weather remained sunny and clear for the entire week.
Opening Ceremonies - with Hawaiian priest and event organizers; Ron Munn, Dick Criley and George Nissen

Scenes from Kapiolani Park:
Tumbling (note early version of platform tumbling) and Trampoline areas. 
Spaceball area
Trampoline and Double-Mini Trampoline areas.
Scenes from the Luau Awards Banquet:

L-R: Paul Sanders-Hewett, Bob Fredsall, Shannon Fredsall, Gen McGrew, Don Zasadny,
Annie Nissen, George Nissen, Ron Munn, Christine Munn and Glenn Sundby


Ron Munn, Director of the 5th World Age Group Games
"The Games mirrored the joyous spirit of the acrobat, of the trampoline artist, 
of the tumbler, soaring ever higher, aspiring upward like a triple somersault, 
into the blue heavens."
Dan Millman 
Despite all the successes, this 5th World Age Group Games unfortunately was the last in the series that were sponsored by George Nissen and the Nissen Corporation. For it was during the following year in 1979, that due to mounting expenses from legal liabilities, the Nissen Corporation ceased trampoline production forever.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

1976 - 4th World Age Group Games, Cedar Rapids

- Trampoline History -
The 4th World Age Group Games were held July 9-10, 1976,
 at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 
Over 268 athletes participated representing 13 countries. 

Let's tell this story from the beginning... 

Because WHO attended, HOW they got to Cedar Rapids 
and WHAT they did is the REAL story of the
1976 - 4th World Age Group Games!

USTA Technical Director, Jack Castle and Meet Director, Ron Munn
1976 was a significant year for the USA, for it marked the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and creation of the United States of America as in independent republic. Across the country, Americans were in a celebratory mood and open to extending a helping hand.

Meanwhile, the organizers of the 4th World Age Group Games rode in on a wave of good luck and good planning to host not only a successful competition, but provided athlete transport, lodging and entertainment in a manner that could not be duplicated in today's world.

Holding the World Age Group Games one week following the 9th World Trampoline Championships taking place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, gave overseas athletes and coaches the unique opportunity to attend both events during a single trip to America.

To sweeten the pot, George Nissen made arrangements with Ozark Airlines, to schedule a special charter flight for the express purpose of transporting everyone from Tulsa to Cedar Rapids. During the flight, Ron Munn and his staff issued name tags to all aboard while explaining that families from Cedar Rapids would be waiting on the tarmac - - with a matching name tag. Why?

It seems that among the multitude of bi-centennial celebrations, Americans were also being encouraged to open their homes to visiting foreign tourists and further share the "American experience." It was perfect timing for George Nissen, Ron Munn and their staff who contacted the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce with a special request - - and were met with cooperation.

Host-families were selected and eagerly volunteered to provide meals, lodging and transportation throughout the week in exchange for the opportunity to share good old American hospitality and create life-long friendships.

As 120 athletes representing thirteen countries stepped off the Ozark flight and onto the red carpet they were greeted by the Honorable Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Don Canny, the Mt. Vernon Marching Band and a throng of host-families - - each looking for a matching name tag.

Besides allowing serious workout time to trampoline and tumble, the week's itinerary included:

  • A special lunch, entertainment and tour of the Nissen Corporation factory.
  • A visit to the Herbert Hoover Memorial Library in the nearby town of West Branch.
  • A picnic trip to a working Iowa farm.
  • Rides and entertainment at the All-Iowa Fair.

  • Ed Cole and George Nissen in the Nissen gym, surrounded by hungry visitors in the luncheon line

    Nissen employee Garnett Schaubroeck, demonstrates
    the construction of the trampoline bed
    Ron Munn referees a Cageball match between Britain and Australia

    Competition Highlights:

    Competition at Kennedy High School
    • Events included: Trampoline, Tumbling, Synchronized Trampoline and Double Mini-Trampoline.
    • The new Nissen 6mm trampoline beds were introduced along with an innovation to the trampoline springs, called, "Initial Tension Loss Compensator Springs."
    • 268 athletes participated representing: Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela and the USA.
    • The well attended Awards Banquet held at the Longbranch Restaurant in Cedar Rapids included recognition of the winners plus special recognition of the event sponsors: the Nissen Corporation and the City of Cedar Rapids. 


    USA champions Diane Goldsworthy and Ken Kovach were featured in
    The Gazette, July 10, 1976

    Friday, September 25, 2015

    1975 - 3rd World Age Group Games, Toronto

    - Trampoline History -

    3rd World Age Group Games
    in Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Tramp
    August 15-17, 1975
    Toronto, Canada
    Ron Munn, Meet Director

    The Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, served as competition headquarters for the 218 competitors along with their coaches and family who arrived from the US, Canada, South Africa and Great Britain. Since the competition was to take place during the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), and was held in the Outdoor Sports Complex on the CNE grounds, Ron Munn knew he faced a major transportation challenge. However, he successfully resolved the issue by renting several large tour buses to transport the entire group to and from the Outdoor Sports Complex twice each day.

    Rick Kinsman & Leslie Sguigna
    Preliminary competition took place on the 15th and 16th, and consisted of optional routines in all events with the top six in each event advancing to the Finals on Sunday, the 17th. Highlights of the competition included a visit by USA-NASA astronaut, Scott Carpenter, and the debut of a new trampoline skill by Stuart Ransom - - a 1-1/2 twisting triple somersault, with a half twist in the second somersault and a full twist in the third!

    Following the Finals, a special Awards Banquet was held at the Royal York Hotel. The evening was topped off by a delightful comedy trampoline performance by "The Rebounders," (Rick Kinsman and Leslie Sguigna).

    In addition, throughout the three-day event participants enjoyed themselves on the CNE grounds which offered many side attractions for everyone attending this 3rd World Age Group Games. 

    “Many people helped to make the competition the success it was, but special thanks must go to the Ontario Gymnastics Federation and its Trampoline Committee. Also, special thanks to the Canadian Gymnastics Federation for the necessary sanction to conduct the competition. Lastly, the largest appreciation goes to the Canadian National Exhibition and Gordon Walker, Sports Stadium Manager for helping to sponsor the entire competition and providing the necessary facilities.”
    Ron Munn, Meet Director

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    1974 - Trampoline's First "Road to Rio" - - How the Trampoline was Introduced to Brazil

    Prior to the sport of trampoline being accepted as an Olympic event (which happened in the year 2000), George Nissen had dedicated great effort towards introducing the trampoline to as many countries as possible.

    In 1974, Brazil was no exception to his quest.  The 7th World Trampoline Championships were being held in South Africa that year and in March, while on their way to the big world competition Nissen arranged for a group of trampoline athletes to make a stop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    During their visit to Rio, George, his wife Annie and daughter Dian, along with Ron Munn, Ed Cole and Robbie Bollinger spent the week with the Nissen Brazilian representative providing trampoline clinics and demonstrations to an enthusiastic group of Brazil’s future trampoline athletes.
    The Nissen Trampoline Team arrives in Rio
    L-R: Ron Munn, George Nissen, Robbie Bollinger, Ed Cole, Dian and Annie Nissen

    Dian, Robbie and Ed take a break surrounded by their enthusiastic future trampolinists.

    Ed and Ron at the beach with Robbie and Dian 

    The Americans team was treated to the wonderful Brazilian hospitality

    When not conducting clinics, Nissen's Brazilian representative took Ed, Robbie
    and Dian to Rio's world famous Copacabana Beach

    Brazilian hospitality was always shared

    A good time was had by all!

    42 years later, the trampoline is not only an Olympic event in Rio, but Brazil can also boast having an athlete competing in the men's individual event!

    George Nissen's original idea of introducing the trampoline worldwide has certainly paid off!


    Sunday, September 20, 2015

    1974 - 2nd World Age Group Games, San Mateo

    - Trampoline History -

    2nd World Age Group Games
    in Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini-Tramp
    July, 1974
    San Mateo, California
    Doug Dawkins, Meet Director

    Do you have any photos, results, memories to share?
    Contact Dagmar via Facebook, Google+ or leave a
    message in the comments section located below.
    Thank you!

    Read more:

    Thursday, September 10, 2015

    1973 - 1st World Age Group Games, London

    "An international age-group competition that recognized 
    individual athletes; not their teams, countries or organizations." 
    George Nissen             Ted Blake                Ron Munn              Bob Bollinger
    That was the vision of four men who together in 1972, created the World Age Group Games - - specifically for the sports of tumbling and trampoline. Inspired  by the newly formed United States Trampoline & Tumbling Association (USTA), George Nissen, President of the Nissen Corporation USA, Ted Blake, Director of the Nissen Corporation UK, Bob Bollinger, Trampoline Town USA and Ron Munn, President of the U.S.T.A., set their sites on providing age-group competition to athletes world-wide.
    Beginning in 1973, five championships were held; each supported by the Nissen Corporation.

                1973 - August 3-5, London, England
                1974 - July 17-20, San Mateo, California
                1975 - August 15-17, Toronto, Canada
                1976 - July 4-10, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
                1978 - July 19-23, Honolulu, Hawaii

    As the popular international competition grew it drew hundreds of athletes from around the world plus, introduced the newly developed trampoline-related events of: Double Mini-trampoline, Spaceball and Rebound Racing. Initially the competition went by the name, "World Age Group Championships," eventually adopting the name "World Age Group Games," to better reflect the concept of the individual over that of countries and teams.

    The 1st World Age Group Championships were held August 3-5, 1973 in London, England, with Ted Blake as the Event Director.


    In the USA, prior to the competition, Bob Bollinger, arranged for a tour package which included: airfare, hotel accommodations and an evening at the Palladium. Nearly 200 athletes and their families participated - - and began their adventure together on the Chicago to London flight.

    Additionally, coaches and athletes arrived from Australia, Libya, Germany, France, Switzerland, USA and of course, Great Britain.

    During Friday warm-ups, it was discovered that even though many athletes were interested in the mini-trampoline, but few had actual experience using it. Bob Bollinger jumped in by providing special training sessions for those who wished to compete in the event on Saturday.

    The V.I.P. on hand to present awards was the honorable Robert McGaw, Mayor of Rockford, Illinois.

    Ron Munn, Trafalgar Square - 1973
    The next day following the competition, a special trampoline demonstration in Trafalgar Square was scheduled on Sunday - - but the day began with rain. Despite all initial disappointments the wet weather didn't deter the demonstration as several bouncers joined in to entertain the audience of curious tourists.
    (Photo on left) L-R: George Nissen, news photographer, Frank LaDue, Bob Bollinger, Mindy Stieg,
    Ted Blake and Robert McGaw.    (Photo on right) Ron Munn
    Blake then moved the entire group indoors - - to the Regents Palace Hotel - - where post-event festivities continued on.

    Many thanks to Jane Hutton (UK), for providing the following brochure of photos and event results. 

    Ed Cole and Ron Munn, Trafalgar Square - 1973

    Read more: