The 1979 Pan American Games were held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from July 1 to July 15, 1979. The capital of Puerto Rico played host to 3,700 athletes from 34 countries competing in 22 sports, making the VIII Pan American Games the largest to date. Security was a concern due to turmoil over the issue of Puerto Rico's political status. The CBS television network broadcast twelve hours of coverage in the United States. The 1980 documentary film A Step Away showcased a number of athletes competing in the Games.
Format of Competition
The format was very similar to that of the Olympic Games. It was carried out in three stages:
- Competition I - The team competition/qualification round in which all gymnasts, including those who were not part of a team, performed both compulsory and optional exercises. The combined scores of all team members determined the final score of the team. The thirty-six highest scoring gymnasts in the all-around qualified to the individual all-around competition. The six highest scoring gymnasts on each apparatus qualified to the final for that apparatus.
- Competition II - The individual all-around competition, in which those who qualified from Competition I performed exercises on each apparatus. The final score of each gymnast was composed of half the points earned by that gymnast during Competition I and all of the points earned by her in Competition II.
- Competition III - The apparatus finals, in which those who qualified during Competition I performed an exercise on the individual apparatus on which she had qualified. The final score of each gymnast was composed of half the points earned by that gymnast on that particular apparatus during Competition I and all of the points earned by her on that particular apparatus in Competition III.