Arturo Gander, homage from the heart

The importance of an event depends on how much it offers and can express.
The "GANDER", alternating between Ticino and the French part of Switzerland, sees the increase in its fame in the constant confirmation of its validity.
Between 1984 and 2018 (the first and 18th editions in Chiasso!) the competition has earned the right and pleasure to mark jubilee with the organisation of the 35th edition to conclude 35 years of faithfulness to the promises of a top-level symbol of great quality.
Now that we have reached the time for the commemoration it is impossible not to think back to the initial motivation; paying homage to "our" gymnastics Master.
Based on the first effort, which from then on showed the motif to be so good as to guarantee a long-lasting, fortunate series. Without intending to recall the single jewels of the past years, it is right that a profound sense of recognition goes to the man whose charisma was responsible for the birth of the idea in 1984, three years after his death, and made the spark of memory shine and also of the "Memorial" dedicated to him.


Without doubt Arturo Gander is one of the few, if not rare people, who ranged over the total movement of the "ars gymnastica" of his time, with actions which were futuristic for the movement. It is inevitable that only a few citations can be made: from his native Brienz he went first to Chippis in Valais; preceded by his fame as an extremely competent instructor (at home and abroad) he arrived in Chiasso at the end of the thirties, where the local gymnastic directors and politicians of the time were clairvoyant, far-sighted and also "lucky"; he became a gym teacher in the schools and instructor in the Federal Gymnastics Society.
His professional training was in a quite different field, but he acquired the pedagogical, technical skills for this task thanks to his incomparable self-teaching talents.
He was an untiring worker and depended on these throughout his career, which led him to the highest position in world gymnastics.
He learned Italian in a flash; he was at ease in all gym activities, both individual and group; he taught at all school levels and in clubs, each year producing performances to testify to the level reached.
He trained his vice-instructors in avant-garde courses and did not skimp on his support at cantonal and federal level.
He was a long-lived individual competitor, (who can still remember the Cantonal Competition in 1946, on the historical field of Via Comacini?).
He led the Gymnastic Club in Chiasso to wonderful victories in the canton, the Confederation and abroad, while he was one of the team captains of the National team at the Olympic Games in London in 1948 (silver) and won gold in Basel (World Championships 1950), silver in Helsinki (Olympic Games 1952) and bronze in Rome (World Championships 1954); these are moments of nostalgia! And from time to time, as if that were not enough, he was also the fitness coach of FC Chiasso!
He was among the first of us to become enthusiastic about Rhythmic Gymnastics and above all he realised that for any kind of gymnastics to evolve it cannot be limited to muscles, equipment and competitions; so he dedicated his time to going into technical problems in depth (he is one of the authors of the first cards for the Gym club); his work on terminology was pioneering, as it was on the normalisation of equipment, codifying the rules, training coaches, instructors, competition judges …
Due to his "Swiss" skills he first became a valued member, then president of the technical assembly of the F.I.G; finally from 1966 he was president at confederation level, then from 1976 till his death in 1981 he was honorary president.
In his world travels GANDER met high-ranking people in every field, yet he remained modest; he adored Chiasso, where he became Ticinese through and through and where he found the microcosm most congenial to him to be able to go so far (the springboard was the old gym hall in Via Vela)!
These short essential notes for the edition to keep his MEMORY alive with affection and a great sense of recognition.

Clemente Gilardi

Chicco d'oro