Joaqium Blume (ESP)
Tribute courtesy of Annerin Long
Joaqium Blume competed
at a time that marked a crossroads in men’s gymnastics. The Soviet Union and
Japan were in the early years of establishing themselves as the powers of the
sport, yet it was still not unusual to see western European gymnasts in the top
ranks. Even at that, Blume’s successes went unmatched by any other Spanish
gymnast until recent years.
Blume, born in Barcelona, began gymnastics under the direction of his father
Arnando. Arnando Blume was a German émigré and also a former gymnast. The
younger Blume’s first success came in 1949, when he won the Catalan all around
title at the age of sixteen. Two years later he won the first of three national
His success at the national level was rewarded with a trip to the 1952 Olympics
in Helsinki. These Olympics saw the emergence of the USSR and Japan in the world
arena. Blume finished 56th of 212 gymnasts in an All Around competition won by
the great Viktor Chukarin.
Two years later, at the 1954 World Championships, Blume advanced to 44th in the
All Around (again won by Chukarin). He followed this with a near sweep of the
1955 Mediterranean Games, held in his hometown. With golds in every event except
the team and vault (3rd), Blume became a local hero. Perhaps more significantly
in world rankings, Blume finished 10th at the 1955 European Championships.
Unfortunately, injury and politics prevented him from proving himself in the
next major competition, the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. Blume suffered a
broken leg in training for the Games, but even without this injury, he probably
would have still missed his opportunity. Spain, in protest of the USSR’s
recent invasion of Hungary, chose not to send a delegation to Melbourne.
Blume’s greatest moment was yet to come, though. In 1957, he captured the
title of European Champion. In doing so, he defeated Yuri Titov (third at 1956
Olympics, World Champion in 1962) by the margin of .75. Blume continued his
dominance in the event finals, taking the gold on pommel horse, rings, and
parallel bars. With this victory, Blume became one of only six non-Soviet (or
former Soviet republic) gymnasts to ever win the European Championships, and one
of only two western European gymnasts to do so (Franco Menichelli of Italy was
Blume’s life was sadly ended in an airplane crash on 29 April 1959. With him
were his wife and six other Spanish gymnasts. He received the Sports Medal of
Merit posthumously. At the tenth anniversary of his death, the Spanish
Federation inaugurated the Joaquim Blume Memorial Competition, which for many
years drew some of the best gymnasts in the years. Suspended in recent years, it
will once again be held in May 2004.
. This page was created on July 11, 2000 and last updated April 2004.