The commercialisation of women’s artistic gymnastics since the 1980s

Georgia Cervin, Elizabeth Booth, Diana-Luiza Simion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the commercialisation of women’s artistic gymnastics (WAG). The historical starting point is Juan Antonio Samaranch’s commercialisation of the Olympic Games. Although the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) opposed this commercialisation, the changes of global sporting economics significantly affected WAG. The success of Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles showcases the beginning of these changes. The chapter will contrast how on the one hand (a) Retton (as other American gymnasts after her) was able to capitalise on sponsorship, advertising, and media opportunities; and how on the other hand (b) the economic decline of the Eastern bloc countries during the 1980s, and increasingly more lucrative opportunities for financial rewards, attracted gymnasts and coaches into the West, and, by the 1990s, had created a mass exodus and a diaspora of WAG experts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen's Artistic Gymnastics
Subtitle of host publicationSocio-cultural Perspectives
EditorsRoslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart, Gretchen Kerr
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003007005
ISBN (Print)9780367440015
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020


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