Gymnastics is an activity that exists for over 2.000 years, but its development as a competitive sport began just a little more than 100 years ago.
The first large meeting of gymnasts was the 1896 Olympics, where Germany swept the medal parade. Gymnasts from five countries competed in events which included men’s pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.
The first international gymnastics competition outside of the Olympics was held in 1903 in Antwerp and gymnasts from Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands competed in the first World Championships.
Now, the competed events are floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.
The entire floor area must be used during the exercise, which consists primarily of tumbling passes performed in different directions. Tumbling series must be performed, including at least one forward, one backward and one sideward.
The exercise must last between 50 and 70 seconds.
The area of the floor exercise mat is 40 by 40 feet.
The gymnasts must perform an element of value on both ends of the horse, while executing continious circular movements interrupted only by the required scissors elements. The only part of the body which should touche the horse is the hands.
The gymnast is performing moves that are dominantly done in a circular movement in a horizontal plane.
Pommel horse is the only event where gymnasts do not get to stop or pause during the routine. If gymnasts get in trouble, they must continue moving through the routine while making corrections.
The rings should remain absolutely still and in control at the end of each skill. The body should be straight with no arching, and arms should be strong with no shaking.
The rings exercise must include at least two handstands-one executed with front swing, the other trough back swing. At least one element of strength must be held for two seconds.
Examples of strength elements include a cross, an inverted cross, or a planche. A planche is a straight body position parallel to the floor above the rings.
The rings tower on which the rings are supported stands 575 cm tall. The cable and straps which are attached are 300 cm long and 50 cm apart. The mats around the rings, vault and horizontal bar are 18 to 20 cm thick.
Rings requires a great deal of upper body strength moves in the routine. Gymnasts who are not strong fail to score high on this event.
Quick, explosive and dramatic.
Each individual vault has been assigned its own start value, based on the vault’s complexity.
During the pre-flight from the springboard to the horse, the gymnasts must demonstrate a rise in the height of his body after pushing off of the horse, travel the minimum distance (2.5 m). The landing should be firm, without extra steps, and in a line with the horse, springboard and runway.
The men’s vault stands 135 cm tall. It is 35 cm wide by 160 cm long. The runway is 1 m wide and a maximum of 25 m long.
Vault happens very quickly, so the gymnast must stay focused and be prepared for the ground when it’s time to land.
A parallel bars exercise consists of swing and fly elements. The gymnast makes sure that there are no more than three stops or hold parts during the routine. The gymnast is required to execute two swinging elements, one in support and one from a hang.
The parallel bars stand 195 cm high. Each bar is 350 cm long, and the two bars can be adjusted to between 42 and 52 cm apart.
Parallel bars require a great deal of hand-eye coordination, timing and balance.
The most crowd-pleasing and spectacular of all the events, the horizontal bar consists of swings, release moves and high-flying dismounts.
Routines should contain of swinging parts without stops.
The gymnast is required to execute at least one move which he released and regrasps the bar.
The gymnast is also required to perform an in-bar skill like a stalder circle.
The horizontal bar stand 275 cm tall, is 240 cm long and have a diameter of 2.8 cm.
On the horizontal bar, gymnasts must perform very difficult release moves that have a small margin of error.
At major competitions, four to six judges sit at each piece of apparatus. Two judges determine the start value based on difficulties and bonus met. The other two to four judges detect for execution and composition only.
For each routine, the gymnast begins with less than a perfect score. The gymnast starts with an 8.80 score.
The judge may award bonus points added up to 1.20. The perfect routine, including bonus points added, is awarded a score of 10.00.
Gymnastics skills are divided into five levels of difficulty. Levels range from “A”, which is the easiest, to “E” and “Super E” the most difficult. Each routine must have a minimum number of parts dependent upon the level of competition.
Olympic Competition Order:
Olympic order for men is floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.