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

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