The ancient Greeks believed gymnastics to be the perfect symmetry between mind and body.

The term "artistic gymnastics" emerged in the early 1800s to distinguish free-flowing styles from techniques used in military training.

Artistic gymnastics was introduced at the very first Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens, and has been present at every edition of the Games since then. At the beginning, it comprised disciplines that are difficult to qualify as “artistic”, such as climbing and acrobatics.

This discipline was mainly dominated by the Soviet Union from 1952 onwards, following the creation of the Russian Gymnastics Federation in 1883. At the 2008 Games in Beijing, it was the Republic of China’s turn to win the most gold medals.

Competition

There will be four (4) competition phases in the Artistic Gymnastics competition: qualifications, team finals, individual all-around finals and individual apparatus finals. 

Did you Know?

Plato, Aristotle and Homer heartily advocated the strengthening qualities of gymnastic activity. The Greeks believed symmetry between the mind and body was possible only when physical exercise was coupled with intellectual activity.

Between 1896 and 1924 the sport evolved into what we recognise as modern gymnastics. Among those disciplines discarded were club swinging, rock lifting and even swimming, which appeared in 1922.

In the early days of artistic gymnastics at the Games, participants often had a background in ballet, and would reach their peak in their 20s. Nadia Comaneci’s and Nellie Kim's perfect scores of 10 at the 1976 Montreal Games, at the age of 14, heralded an era of younger champions, trained specifically in gymnastics from childhood, although gymnasts must now be 16 to compete in the Olympic Games.

In artistic events (performed on an apparatus), men compete on the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bars. Female gymnasts compete on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor. The competition includes all-round events and team events, also scored over each apparatus.

Artistic Gymnastics Terminology

Still rings - Two parallel rings 50cm apart, suspended from a cable and straps and held, one in each hand, for a series of exercises in men's artistic gymnastics particularly requiring stillness of the body; also called the "rings".

Uneven Bars - An apparatus in women's artistic gymnastics with a top bar 2.4m above the floor and a lower bar 1.6m high, used for a continuous series of grip changes, releases, new grasps and other complex moves.

High Bar - A bar standing 2.75 metres high, used in men's artistic gymnastics; also called the "horizontal bar".

Parallel Bars - An apparatus consisting of two wooden rails on uprights and used for swinging, vaulting and balancing exercises in men’s artistic gymnastics.

Pommel horse - A solid apparatus 115 centimetres high with two handles, or pommels, on top that men in artistic gymnastics use for a series of manoeuvres defined by complex hand placements and body positions while holding themselves above the apparatus.

Vault - A solid apparatus similar to the pommel horse, but lacking handles, and used in men's and women's artistic gymnastics for a variety of handsprings from a running approach.

Timeline

1881 - The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) was founded in 1881, making it the world’s oldest international sport organisation. 

1924 - Men’s individual apparatus and team competitions began.      

1952 - Women’s programme developed at the 1952 games.

1976 - Nadia Comaneci achieved seven perfect 10’s at the Montreal Olympics.


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Gymnastics - Artistic Games History