Perfect 10 (gymnastics)

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Nadia Comăneci poses beside the scoreboard that recorded her perfect 10 as 1.00 (with no Olympic precedent, the hardware was not capable of displaying 10.00).

Perfect 10 refers to a score of 10.00 for a single routine in artistic gymnastics, which was once thought to be unattainable—particularly at the Olympic Games—under the code of points set by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). It is generally recognized that the first person to score a perfect 10 at the Olympic Games was Romanian Nadia Comăneci, at the 1976 Games in Montreal.[1][2] Other women who accomplished this feat at the Olympics include Nellie Kim, also in 1976, Mary Lou Retton in 1984, Daniela Silivaș and Yelena Shushunova in 1988, and Lavinia Miloșovici in 1992. The first man to score a perfect 10 is considered to be Alexander Dityatin, at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.[3][4] (However, in the 1924 Paris Olympics, 22 men achieved a mark of 10 in rope-climbing, with one Albert Séguin getting a second 10 in the sidehorse vault, events that are no longer part of artistic gymnastics.)

The FIG changed its code of points in 2006. There are now different top scores, all greater than 10, for the various events, based upon difficulty and artistic merit; there is no consistent perfect score.


Men's Artistic Gymnastics had been an Olympic sport since the beginning of the modern games. Women's gymnastics were introduced as a single (team) event in the 1928 games, but were not expanded until the 1952 games, when there were seven events.[5] The International Federation of Gymnastics first drew up a code of points—for men—in 1949.[6]

Although the code of points was based on a maximum of 10, until 1976 it was considered impossible to achieve a score of greater than 9.95, particularly at the Olympic Games[7][8] (although Věra Čáslavská achieved perfect 10s in the 1967 European Championships,[9] which were displayed on a manual scoreboard).[10] Prior to the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Omega, the official timers, asked the International Olympic Committee how many digits it should allow on the electronic scoreboard, and were told that three digits would be sufficient, as a score of 10.00 would not be possible.[11]

On 18 July 1976, 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci performed in the uneven bars event, and was awarded a score of 10. Because the scoreboard only allowed three digits, it had to display her score as 1.00.[11] This led to confusion, with even Comăneci unsure of what it meant, until the announcer informed the elated crowd that she had scored a perfect 10.[12] An iconic press photograph (pictured above) shows a beaming Comăneci, arms upraised, beside the scoreboard.[13] Comăneci scored a total of seven 10s at the 1976 Olympics—four on the uneven bars and three on the balance beam.[11] Her main rival, Russian Nelli Kim, scored two 10s in the same competition, in the vault and floor exercise.[14] Comăneci's coach, Béla Károlyi, having defected to the United States in 1981, subsequently coached Mary Lou Retton to gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where she scored 10s in the vault and floor exercise.[15]

The first man to score a perfect 10 in Olympic competition was the Russian Alexander Dityatin, who received the score in the vault on the way to a record-breaking eight medals in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.[16] Among other men to achieve the score was Comăneci's future husband, Bart Conner, who received two 10s in Los Angeles in 1984.[17]

Change in scoring[edit]

The code of points came under review as a result of separate incidents during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, in which gymnasts were believed to have received excessively low scores.[18] A new scoring system was introduced in 2006. It consists of an "A" score, based on the difficulty of elements, and a "B" score, based on artistic impression. While the B score still has a maximum of 10, it is only a part of the overall score.[17]

The change had its share of critics. Béla Károlyi said of it: "It's crazy, terrible, the stupidest thing that ever happened to the sport of gymnastics.".[19] Mary Lou Retton remarked: "It's hard to understand. I don't even understand it."[19] Nadia Comăneci commented, "It's so hard to define sports like ours and we had something unique. The 10, it was ours first and now you give it away."[17]

List of perfect 10s[edit]

This list may be incomplete.


Paris, 1924[edit]

Montreal, 1976[edit]

  • Nadia Comăneci (7) - uneven bars (team compulsory, team optionals, individual all-around, event final) and balance beam (team optionals, individual all-around, event final);
  • Nellie Kim (2) - individual all-around vault, floor exercise event final;

(Olympic database;[20] Women's individual results;[21] women's all-around results;[22] women's team results[23])

Moscow, 1980[edit]

Women[citation needed]

(Men's all-around results;[24] men's individual event results[25])

Los Angeles, 1984[edit]

  • Li Ning (5) - individual floor exercise and pommel horse; pommel horse, rings, and vault in the team final
  • Tong Fei (4) - high bar in the individual, all-around, and team events; team rings
  • Koji Gushiken (3) - individual and team high bar; all-around vault
  • Lou Yun (3) - individual vault; vault in both rounds of the team final
  • Shinji Morisue (3) - high bar in the individual and both rounds of the team final
  • Peter Vidmar (3) - all-around high bar; pommel horse in the individual and team finals
  • Bart Conner (2) - parallel bars in both the team and individual events
  • Mitch Gaylord (2) - team parallel bars and rings
  • Tim Daggett - team high bar
  • Li Xiaoping - team pommel horse
  • Xu Zhiqiang - team high bar
  • Julianne McNamara (5) - individual uneven bars and floor exercise; all-around uneven bars; team uneven bars and floor exercise
  • Ecaterina Szabo (4) - floor exercise; all-around balance beam; team vault and floor exercise
  • Ma Yanhong (3) - individual, all-around, and team uneven bars
  • Mary Lou Retton (3) - floor exercise and vault in the all-around; vault in the team event
  • Simona Păucă - team balance beam

(Men's results;[26] women's results[27])

Seoul, 1988[edit]

  • Daniela Silivaș (7) - compulsory, team, all-around, and individual uneven bars, team balance beam, compulsory and all-around floor
  • Yelena Shushunova (7) - compulsory, team, and all-around vault, team and individual uneven bars, team and all-around
  • Dagmar Kersten (2) - compulsory, and individual uneven bars

(Men's results;[28] women's results[29])

Barcelona, 1992[edit]


(Women's results[30])

World Championships[edit]

  • Daniela Silivaş, 1985, 1987, and 1989 World Gymnastics Championships
  • Christina Bontas, 1989 World Gymnastics Championships (1) - all-around (floor)
  • Aurelia Dobre, 1987 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (five times)
  • Svetlana Boginskaya, 1989 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (5) - team optional (floor exercise, uneven bars), all-around (floor exercise, vault), Event Finals (floor)
  • Oleysya Dudnik, 1989 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships (3) - team optional (balance beam, vault), event finals (vault)
  • Natalia Lashenova, 1989 World Gymnastics Championships (1) - team optional (vault)
  • Fan Di, 1989 World Gymnastics Championships (1) - event finals (uneven bars)
  • Camelia Voinea, 1987 World gymnastics championships (1) - team optional (floor exercise)

European Championships[edit]

  • Vera Caslavska - 1967 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships
  • Svetlana Boginskaya - 1989 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships (2) - all-around (floor exercise), event final (floor exercise)
  • Daniela Silivaș - 1989 European Championships (1) - event final (floor)

American Cup[edit]

New York City, 1976[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The first Olympic gymnast to score a perfect 10". BBC News. 20 July 2016.
  2. ^ Jamie Clarke (19 August 2015). "1976: First Gymnast to Score a Perfect 10 at an Olympics Games". Guinness World Records.
  3. ^ William D. Murray (9 January 1986). "Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin, the winner of a record..." United Press International.
  4. ^ "Moscow 1980 - Key Moments: The first male "perfect 10"". ESPN.
  5. ^ "History of Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Games" (PDF). Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Milestones". International Federation of Gymnastics. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  7. ^ Brown, Gene (1979). The New York Times encyclopedia of sports, Volume 11: Indoor Sports. Arno Press. p. 132. ISBN 0405126379. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  8. ^ Fulton-Smith, Graham; Sampson, James M.; Wange, Willy B. (1976). Olympics 1976: Montreal, Innsbruck. New York: C. N. Potter. p. 25. ISBN 051752743X. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  9. ^ Tatlow, Peter (1979). Gymnastics: all the beauty and skills of this thrilling sport. Chartwell Books, Inc. p. 143. ISBN 9780711100046.
  10. ^ European Ladies Gymnastics In Amsterdam (1967). British Pathé. 13 Apr 2014. Event occurs at 1 min 32 sec. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b c "50 stunning Olympic moments No5: Nadia Comaneci scores a perfect 10". 14 December 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  12. ^ Brady, Rachel (6 July 2012). "Nadia Comaneci: From a perfect 10 in Montreal to a busy broadcaster in London". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  13. ^ Marsden, Rhodri (17 July 2015). "Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The gymnastics scoreboard at the Montreal Olympics". Independent. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  14. ^ Buchanan, Ian; Mallon, Bill (2005). Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement. Scarecrow Press. p. 149. ISBN 0810865246. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  15. ^ Boyer Sagert, Kelly; Overman, Steven J. (2012). Icons of Women's Sport. ABC-CLIO. pp. 443, 448–9. ISBN 0313385491. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  16. ^ Nauright, John (2012). Sports around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 334. ISBN 159884301X. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  17. ^ a b c Diane Pucin (August 6, 2008). "A 10-shun Deficit". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Dan Baynes (August 6, 2008). "Olympic Gymnasts Won't Chase Perfect 10 as New Scoring Debuts". Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  19. ^ a b Jordan Ellenberg (August 12, 2008). "Down With the Perfect 10!". Slate. Archived from the original on February 12, 2010. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  20. ^ "Gymnastics results for the 1976 Summer Olympics". Archived from the original on December 25, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  21. ^ "Games of the 21st Olympiad 1976 Artistic Gymnastics / All-Around Final Women". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  22. ^ "Games of the 21st Olympiad 1976 Artistic Gymnastics / All-Around Final Women". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  23. ^ "Games of the 21st Olympiad 1976 Artistic Gymnastics / Teams Women". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  24. ^ "All-Around Final Men - Games of the 22nd Olympiad Moscow 1980". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  25. ^ "Games of the 22nd Olympiad 1980 Artistic Gymnastics / Events Finals Men". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  26. ^ "The Games of 23rd Olympiad / Men's Artistic Gymnastics". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  27. ^ "The Games of 23rd Olympiad / Women's Artistic Gymnastics". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  28. ^ "The Games of 24th Olympiad / Men". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  29. ^ "The Games of 24th Olympiad / Women". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  30. ^ "The Games of 25th Olympiad / Women". Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  31. ^ Nadia Comaneci Floor Exercise, 1976 American Cup (tv broadcast)