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History and competitions

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History and competitions

Exercises of the ancient Greeks began with athletic feats performed by each individual according to his own notion

All Greek cities had a gymnasium, a courtyard for jumping, running, and wrestling. The term included stretching exercises and warm-up preparations for athletes.

The Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) was founded in Liege in 1881. By the end of the nineteenth century, men's gymnastics competition was popular enough to be included in the first "modern" Olympic Games in 1896.

By 1954, Olympic Games apparatus and events for both men and women had been standardized in modern format, and uniform grading structures had been agreed upon. At this time, Soviet gymnasts astounded the world with highly disciplined and difficult performances, setting a precedent that continues. The new medium of television helped publicize and initiate a modern age of gymnastics. Both men's and women's gymnastics now attract considerable international interest, and excellent gymnasts can be found on every continent.


In the vaulting events gymnasts sprint down a 25 metres runway, jump onto or perform a roundoff entry onto a springboard (run/ take-off segment), land momentarily, inverted on the hands on the vaulting horse or vaulting table.

Uneven Bars

On the uneven bars (also known as asymmetric bars, UK), the gymnast performs a routine on two horizontal bars set at different heights

Balance Beam

The gymnast performs a choreographed routine up to 90 seconds in length consisting of leaps, acrobatic skills, somersaults, turns and dance elements on a padded beam. The beam is 125 centimetres (4 ft 1 in) from the ground, 500 centimetres long, and 10 centimetres wide. The event requires, in particular, balance, flexibility, poise and strength.


In the past, the Floor Exercise event was executed on the bare floor or mats such as wrestling mats

Events for men


Male gymnasts also perform on a 12m. by 12m. spring floor. A series of tumbling passes are performed to demonstrate flexibility, strength, and balance

Pommel horse

A typical pommel horse exercise involves both single leg and double leg work. Single leg skills are generally found in the form of scissors, an element often done on the pommels. Double leg work however, is the main staple of this event. The gymnast swings both legs in a circular motion and performs such skills on all parts of the apparatus.



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