Olympic-sized Bites: Gymnastics (Artistic)
Gymnastics is one of the most popular attractions at the Olympics. As a sport it is unique because of the precision, training, discipline and hard work that is required of the participant. It is very graceful, but is just as strenuous as any other sport and needs much practice. Both men and women compete in the Gymnastics.
Gymnastics is contested in 2 parts- artistic and rhythmic. Artistic gymnastics involves performance of short 30 to 90 second routines. It is one of the most popular spectator sports at the Summer Olympic Games, and in numerous other competitive events. Points are awarded on a 10 point scale with a perfect 10 the most coveted score.
Training for the sport begins at an early age. Many of the current gymnasts in the Olympics have been learning since the age of 5 or 6.
Gymnastics was used to train people for sports in Ancient Greece about 20,000 years ago. It was never classified as a sport in the ancient Olympic Games. Because there was a lot of interest, men’s gymnastics was introduced in the Olympics in 1896 as part of the first modern Olympic Games. Women’s gymnastics was introduced first in 1928 at the Amsterdam Olympics.
Men compete in 6 events - Vault, Floor, Pommel Horse, High bar, Rings and Parallel bars while women compete in 4 events - Beam, Vault, Bars and Floor.
At the Olympics, gymnastics is a team sport. However, each gymnast competes individually to earn a score. Then scores of all the gymnasts are combined to get a team score
One can certainly say that gymnastics is very popular considering the number of gymnasts that have become household names. Nadia Comaneci of Romania certainly charmed the world being the first one to score a perfect 10 with her impeccable routine at the Olympics. Several others including Mary Lou Retton, Shawn Johnson and Kohei Uchimura, are great names in the sport.
It is a tough sport to predict. At the 2008 Olympics, Team China surprised the world by taking the Gold in both the Men and Women segment despite strong contention from veterans - Russia, Romania and the USA and Japan.
Predictions: All eyes will be on the US, Russian and Chinese teams for this year for the top three spots
In Part 2 we will take a look at Rhythmic gymnastics…