14th World Gymnaestrada… Lausanne 2011…

The past week saw a hype of outdoor and indoor activities in Lausanne… as it hosted the 14th World Gymnaestrada. While it was interesting to see so many foreign visitors and delegates each time I went to the city centre during the past week (all wearing colourful shirts with their country’s name on the back and travel bags) … it was even more interesting to catch the street performances that were organised as part of the 14th World Gymnaestrada event, right here in Lausanne.

For those who do not know what World Gymnaestrada is all about… (I certainly did not before this)… it is the world’s largest gymnastic exhibition, bringing together during one week gymnasts from different countries and various disciplines (acrobatic, artistic and rythmic gym) who perform various routines in groups… sometimes involving hundreds of participants! This year, the event attracted 19,100 gymnasts from 55 different countries… including from my beloved Singapore. 🙂  

It was unfortunate that the Swiss franc was so high against several currencies… to the extent that some 3,000 would-be participants decided to pull out. 😦 Even though the Gymnaestradans were lodged in the classrooms of some 70 schools… the hubby read somewhere that it would still have cost them at least CHF1,600 each in Gymnaestrada-related expenses such as equipment, lodging, meals and the right to take part in the event! So… many, many thanks to all participants who made it to Lausanne and enlivened our city for a week!

Just like the Olympics, Gymnaestrada is held every four years… and this year, Lausanne had the honour of hosting the 14th edition of this international event from 10 to 16 July 2011. This was the third time that Switzerland played host to this world gymnastic event… after nearly 30 years (Basle in 1969 and Zurich in 1982)! But unlike the Olympics, Gymnaestrada is not about competing and winning… it is about sharing and showcasing the talents and culture of the various participating countries…and people of all ages take part (… according to the local press, the eldest Gymnaestradan was a Swedish lady of 92… bravo!).

As an aside, the word Gymnaestrada is derived from the Latin words gymnasticus (gymnastics) and strada (street). Its spiritual roots are those of a contemporary of Pierre de Coubertin (the founder of the modern Olympics), Nicolas Cupérus… who founded in 1881 Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (International Federation of Gymnastics or FIG)… and who was strongly opposed to the idea of competition. He dreamt ‘of the day when competitions will be superfluous, when gymnasts will compete for the infallible prize of their own effort, the exact equivalent in health, strength, flexibility, tenacity‘ (quotation from FIG). Alas…Nicolas Cupérus’s wish for FIG international meetings to be non-competitive events did not prevail …and so the first international meeting of FIG was organised as a tournament (Antwerp, 1903). However, his idea was eventually resuscitated by the Dutch teacher of callisthenics JHF Sommer… and the first Gymnaestrada was finally held in Rotterdam (Netherlands) in 1953.

It was too bad that I finally realised what Gymnaestrada was all about (even though the hubby had told me that this event would be coming to Lausanne quite some time ago)… after I went to watch one of the free performances that were held in the town centre. Only then did I realise what I had been missing. Aww… shucks!! But… at least I did get to see several performances from the free shows in town… and on Saturday… to make up for missing most of the events during the week, we decided to go and watch the closing ceremony… yeah!!! 😮

Watching the closing ceremony of World Gymnaestrada Lausanne 2011 was wonderful. But I think we had more fun when we decided to join the delegates…participants, supporters, volunteers… making their way on foot from the stadium of La Pontaise … to Bellerive, near the lake… where the celebration and partying would continue. 😮 Actually, we would have lurved to join them in the celebration at Bellerive (where there was a concert)… but… as the place was getting very crowded… and I was feeling very very hungry… we decided to make our way home. But not without a brief stop at Ouchy to take some evening shots of the lake scene lah! hehehe… 🙂

Still… it was a wonderful experience… and I am sure that the 15th World Gymnaestrada to be held in Helsinki, Finland, will be a great one… if not better than the one in Lausanne!

Hmmm… maybe we ought try to plan for a summer holiday to Finland in 2015… hehehe… 😉

And to share these momentous event in Lausanne… here are the photos… which as you know you can click to enlarge

This was during the opening ceremony of the World Gymnaestrada on 10 July. We did not go to the stadium of La Pontaise to watch the ceremony… instead we head to Mont Sauvabelin where we joined many others to watch something else. In fact… we could see the stadium from Mont Sauvabelin… just not much of what was going on in there!

Err… what did we hope to see from Mont Sauvabelin… if not the activities in the stadium?

This! Aerial stunts by the aerobatic team of the Swiss air forces (Patrouille Suisse) … performed as part of the opening ceremony of the 14th World Gymnaestrada. Since these planes moved so fast… it was only through sheer good luck that we managed to get any good pictures of them!!

Besides paid performances held at the Beaulieu and Malley Patinoire… there were also free street performances from 2.00-6.00pm held in several venues. I was fortunate enough to catch the performances at Place de la Riponne when I went into town on Thurs.

Here are some photos of the performances that I managed to see at Place de la Riponne.

One of the 4 venues for street performances… this one at Place de la Riponne… in front of Palais de Rumine.

A side performance… a group of young gymnasts having their photos taken among the columns of Palais de Rumine. Nice pose ladies!!! 🙂

I missed this performance from Greece (Sports Club Lavrio)… as it was ending just as I arrived in the area. But I certainly did not miss the rest of the performances that afternoon!

A most interesting and enjoyable show from the group from Israel, Snunit Modiin. They certainly rehearsed quite a lot before the actual performance… so it was no wonder their performance was very good and highly entertaining! It was my favourite performance amongst those that I got to see that afternoon! Well done girls!!

A group from Portugal (SFUAP)… who used several props during their beautiful performance.

A lively performance from a senior group (ZüriFit40+) from Switzerland… which was so enjoyable to watch perform.

Another group of senior gymnasts from Switzerland (Kantonale Gymnastikgruppe Baselland) performing that afternoon. It was nice to see that they had not lost their touch… despite getting on in years 🙂

A team from Canada, Calgary Acro GC. Although their stunts were good… but their performance somehow lacked the entertainment feel of some of the other teams.

Another group from Portugal (Clube Atlético de Queluz)… with an attire which… though was colourful and pretty, it was not very practical. Several times I saw the young gymnasts tugging down their top or having to adjust their scarves after a flip. But despite the slight problem with their attire… these very young ladies put up a good show and I enjoyed it.

A team from Finland… the host country for World Gymnaestrada in 2015. The performance of this group (Turun Naisvoimistelijat), however, was the least impressive of all from what I saw that afternoon… mainly because it was mostly just dancing… when I was expecting at least a few flips or acrobatic stunts from these young ladies!

I would have loved to catch the street performances again when I was in town on Friday… but since the lunch meeting that I had with some friends stretched until evening time… I totally missed the street performances that day. Drats!

But… I was glad that the hubby and I got to watch the closing ceremony performances on Saturday 16 July… and here are the photos from the event.

The queues at the different entrances into the stadium. The two ladies in the picture on the top right were dressed in the traditional attire of the Vaudoises … women from the canton of Vaud (to which Lausanne belongs).

The hubby and I had not realised that there was a contingent of more than 70 people from Singapore… until the hubby’s sharp eyes spotted these two ladies in their Singapore t-shirts at the souvenirs stall while we were making our way to our assigned entrance gate.

Ahhh… it is always nice to meet someone from back home :-)… and from them I found out that there were 34 young gymnasts from Singapore accompanied by their families and officials. It gave me such a warm feeling to see the Singapore flag (3rd from left) flying among the 55 flags from different countries around the world. I wish I had brought my small Singapore flag from home! hehehe…

The first performance was from the Japanese team… which was interesting… and involved several quick changes of t-shirts of different colours. And if you look very closely at the big picture below, you can see that there was one small boy (the only one in blue shorts) taking part in this event. You have to give it to him… he was in step with the rest of his bigger group members!

The team from the Czech Republic.

The team from the Netherlands.

The team from Down Under… Australia.

The very colourfully attired team from South Africa… complete with a green and a yellow giraffes! 🙂

The team from Germany.

This team, possibly the largest, was composed of participants from the Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, etc.

The team from Denmark… which was almost entirely composed of senior Danes… thereby emphasising that gymnastics is not only for the young but for all ages. 🙂

The team from Slovakia.

The team from Finland… the next host country for World Gymnaestrada… in 2015.

And as the host nation, Switzerland of course had one of the largest teams and put up two separate performances. This particular performance was a joint effort from members of the Swiss Federation of Gymnastics.

And the last performance before the ceremony finally ended involved a military band together with the canton of Vaud and Lausanne members of the Swiss team. If you look very closely on the bottom picture on the left, you will see a very pregnant lady (with the small orange ball) taking part in the performance. Amazing!

But… before I forget…

The mascots for the 14th edition World Gymnaestrada 2011 … Cathy (who was wearing a hat resembling Lausanne’s emblem, the cathedral, and thus stood for the host city) … and Jim (who stood for gymnastics)

As I had shared in an earlier entry we had some awful weather last week with heavy thunderstorm on Tuesday night. The rain continued almost non stop on Wednesday… but fortunately cleared on Thursday and Friday… and even managed to hold steady on Saturday. Well… at least until after the closing ceremony was over, lah!

However, since the show (or rather the walking procession from the stadium down to the lake area) must go on… out came the umbrellas, raincoats and what have you. But… it was actually just a naughty prank from mother nature… because the sky soon cleared again a few minutes later. So by the time we joined the procession… we were able to enjoy a fun and cool walk! hehehe 🙂

And it was a FUN walk down to the lake area… the hubby certainly relished the opportunity to walk down the road unhampered by any moving vehicles! hehehe…

Making our way from the Olympic Stadium of Stade de la Pontaise.

Walking leisurely… down and down… towards the lake area called Bellerive.

With lots of camaraderie and laughter… and of course some gymnastic stunts by the girls of Flip Piran (Slovenia)… along the way.

It was such a nice feeling… and the lively music provided by the very same band that provided the same musical encouragement during the 20km de Lausanne… was just great!! The participants even provided the singing to the familiar music! hehehe 🙂

The end point of the procession at Bellerive (near Ouchy). As you can see it was really and truly crowded (10,000 according to the local press)!

And so we had fun at the closing ceremony of the 14th World Gymnaestrada 2011… and especially doing the long walk with the rest of the participants, delegations, volunteers and others who cared to join in.

But before I end this very loooong entry, I thought I’d share these few shots as well…

… of the exchanges (t-shirts, jackets, bags, caps, flags… well basically whatever you got with the name of your country, preferably!) that were going on between the many participants… gymnasts, supporters, volunteers, spectators, etc, etc… not only inside and outside the stadium… but also on the streets as we were doing the walk. The most ingenious exchange of course went to the boy in red (right picture) who was willing to ‘change’ anything for a… kiss! muah… muah!!! 🙂


5 thoughts on “14th World Gymnaestrada… Lausanne 2011…

  1. Hello Donna, sorry for the belated answer as I had to go and check my notes. As I (the hubby) looked up the background info for this page, I felt that I ought to reply. This particular figure was based on an interview of a Swiss participant, Ms. Patricia Hediger, a seven time Gymnaestradan, published on the website of Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) – the link to this article is provided above in the entry. In this interview, Ms. Patricia Hediger mentions the amount of CHF1,600 per Gymnaestradan for the events she took part in abroad as a Swiss Gymnaestradan versus CHF900 for the Swiss participants to 14th World Gymnaestrada in Lausanne (thus at home in Switzerland); therefore, I would assume that the difference was attributable to the airplane fare. The article quotes her as stating that this amount comprised the national equipment, accommodation and ‘one to two meals a day’ plus the right to take part into the event.
    As for your second question, I would assume that the Gymnaestradans were provided accommodation in classrooms which would have been emptied anyhow for the summer school holidays, in the adjacent gymnasiums or in nuclear shelters (by law, all buildings in Switzerland were obliged to have nuclear shelters until recently). The article mentions air mattresses, which I suppose had to be bought and thus added to the accommodation expenses. Anyhow for many foreign Gymnaestradans, Switzerland would have been particularly expensive because the Swiss franc was being used as a safe haven currency at the time by currency speculators. From what I read, the event cost CHF24 million to stage.
    Personally, even though I am not a gymnast, I am very much interested in the non-competitive nature of this event, in keeping with Nicolas Cupérus’s philosophy. I recall with great pleasure the walk we did with the participants from the Olympic stadium to the lakeside because of the sense of camaraderie that prevailed. If I had the time, I would love to research Nicolas Cupérus’s philosophy and the possible influence the Gymnaestrada might have had on the only other non-competitive event to draw participants from around the world I know of: the Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree (see http://scout.org/node/42).


  2. Hi! Can you explain or describe in more detail what this is like? Even though the Gymnaestradans were lodged in the classrooms of some 70 schools? What are these accommodations like?


  3. Pingback: La Tour de Sauvabelin, Lausanne… « Just Sharing…

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