gymnastics


gymnastics
/jim nas"tiks/, n.
1. (used with a pl. v.) gymnastic exercises.
2. (used with a sing. v.) the practice art, or competitive sport of gymnastic exercises.
3. (used with a pl. v.) mental feats or other exercises of skill: Verbal gymnastics.
[1645-55; see GYMNASTIC, -ICS]

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Competitive sport in which individuals perform optional and prescribed acrobatic exercises, mostly on special apparatus, in order to demonstrate strength, balance, and body control.

Part of the ancient Olympic Games, gymnastics was virtually reinvented in the modern era by the German Friedrich Jahn (1778–1852). The sport became part of the revived Olympics in 1896; women's gymnastics was instituted in 1936. Men's events include the horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, vaulting, rings, and floor exercises. Women's events include the balance beam, uneven parallel bars, vaulting, floor exercises, and rhythmic sportive gymnastics.

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▪ 2009

      At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese women gymnasts captured their first Olympic team gold medal with a score of 188.90 points. The team—Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan, Li Shanshan, Yang Yilin, and Deng Linlin—defeated a strong U.S. squad that had bested the Chinese at the world championships the previous year. The U.S. team, which included Nastia Liukin (Liukin, Nastia ), Shawn Johnson, Chellsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, Alicia Sacramone, and Bridget Sloan, ended with 186.525 points to take its second consecutive Olympic silver medal. Romania (181.525 points) finished third. Although questions regarding the ages of the Chinese gymnasts were raised both before and during the Olympics, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique eventually ruled that all six members of the Chinese women's team met the minimum age requirement (16 in the year of the competition), and the International Olympic Committee indicated that it considered the matter “closed.”

      Liukin and Johnson battled for the gold in the all-around finals. Liukin came out on top owing in part to her outstanding bar routine, finishing with a leading score of 63.325 points. Johnson, the defending world all-around champion, won the silver medal with 62.725 points, and Yang (62.650 points) took the bronze. North Korea's Hong Un Jong won the gold medal in the vault. Germany's Oksana Chusovitina, who at age 33 was competing in her fifth Olympics, won the silver, and Cheng placed third. On the uneven bars, He and Liukin both scored a 16.725, but after the tie-breaking procedures, He was awarded the gold medal and Liukin the silver; Yang (16.650 points) claimed the bronze. Johnson secured the gold medal in balance beam; Liukin settled for the silver and Cheng the bronze. Romania's Sandra Izbasa took the gold medal in the floor exercise with a score of 15.650 points, followed by Johnson and Liukin with scores of 15.500 and 15.425, respectively.

      On the men's side, reigning world champion China dominated the team competition with a score of 286.125, more than 7 points better than its closest competitor, Japan (278.875). The Chinese men's team included Xiao Qin, Chen Yibing, Li Xiaopeng, Yang Wei, Zou Kai, and Huang Xu. The U.S. team, despite the loss of two of its stars, brothers Paul and Morgan Hamm, to injuries prior to the competition, took the bronze medal.

      China's Yang Wei defended his 2007 world all-around title by winning the Olympic all-around gold; he was followed by Japan's Kohei Uchimura in second place and France's Benoit Caranobe in third. Gymnasts from China won five of the six individual events for men as Zou claimed the gold in both the floor competition and the horizontal bar, Li won the parallel bars, Xiao defended his world title on pommel horse, and Chen repeated his world championship triumph on rings. Leszek Blanik of Poland, the defending world champion on vault, took home the gold medal, Thomas Bouhail of France the silver, and Anton Golotsutskov of Russia the bronze.

      In the rhythmic gymnastics competition, Russia's Yevgeniya Kanayeva won the gold medal. She was followed by Inna Zhukova of Belarus in second place and Anna Bessonova of Ukraine in third. The reigning world champion Russian team won the group competition, with China and Belarus taking the silver and bronze, respectively.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2008
 At the artistic gymnastics world championships, held in Stuttgart, Ger., during Sept. 1–9, 2007, the United States (with 184.40 points) won the women's team title over defending champion China (183.45 points) and Romania (178.10 points). The strong U.S. team—Ivana Hong, Shawn Johnson, Anastasia (Nastia) Liukin, Samantha Peszek, Alicia Sacramone, and Shayla Worley—came from behind after mistakes on the balance beam in the third round of competition to capture the country's second team title. Two days later Johnson landed a tumbling-packed floor routine (complete with a double twisting, double back salto) for her last event to seal the individual all-around title with a score of 61.875 points. Romania's Steliana Nistor (60.625 points) finished in second place. There was a tie for third in the all-around competition between Brazil's Jade Barbosa and Italy's Vanessa Ferrari, with each scoring 60.550 points. During apparatus finals, China's Cheng Fei won her third consecutive world championship in the vault. Ksenia Semenova, a newcomer to the gymnastics scene from Russia, won the uneven bars title. Liukin secured her second balance beam title in three years, while Johnson took top honours in the floor exercise to earn her third gold medal of the competition.

      On the men's side, the Chinese team—Xiao Qin, Liang Fuliang, Chen Yibing, Yang Wei, Zou Kai, and Huang Xu—dominated the team competition, winning China's eighth team title with 281.90 points, more than four points ahead of its closest competitor, Japan. Germany took the bronze medal. In the men's individual all-around final, Yang won his second consecutive title, despite a fall on the high bar in the last rotation. Germany's Fabian Hambüchen won the all-around silver medal, and Hisashi Mizutori of Japan took the bronze. Gymnasts from China also earned two of the six individual men's event titles as Xiao defended his world title on the pommel horse and Chen repeated as world champion on the still rings. Diego Hypolito of Brazil gained his second floor exercise title; Leszek Blanik of Poland won the vault; Mitja Petkovsek of Slovenia and South Korean Kim Dae Eun tied for the gold medal on the parallel bars; and hometown favourite Hambüchen won the high bar.

      At the rhythmic world championships, held September 16-23, in Patras, Greece, Russia dominated the medal standings with a total of 13 medals, followed by Ukraine (4), Italy, Belarus, and Bulgaria (2 each), and Azerbaijan (1). In the individual competition, Anna Bessonova of Ukraine won four medals, including the all-around gold. Vera Sessina of Russia earned five medals, including the all-around silver, while her teammate Olga Kapranova won the all-around bronze. Russia captured the gold medal in the team competition with a commanding 183.05 points, followed by Belarus (168.775 points) and Azerbaijan (163.75 points). In the group all-around, Russia won the gold, while Italy claimed the silver and Belarus the bronze.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2007
 At the artistic gymnastics world championships, held Oct. 13–21, 2006, in Århus, Den., China was the dominant force in both men's and women's competition. Gymnasts from China won eight medals, all of them gold, including both team titles.

      On the men's side, China won its seventh world team title with 277.775 points. Russia (275.400 points) earned the silver medal, and Japan (274.800 points) took the bronze. China's Yang Wei won the men's individual all-around competition with 94.400 points. Hiroyuki Tomita of Japan, the defending 2005 world champion, had to settle for the silver, and Germany's Fabian Hambüchen earned bronze. Yang also won the parallel bars title, again edging out Tomita. South Korea's Won Chul Yoo finished third. Marian Dragulescu of Romania broke through the Chinese dominance with two gold medals, in the floor exercise and vault competitions. In floor exercise he was trailed by Brazil's Diego Hypolito, who won the title in 2005, and Canada's Kyle Shewfelt. Dmitry Kasparovich of Belarus took second in the vault, ahead of Hambüchen. China's Xiao Qin repeated as the world champion on the pommel horse, followed by Australia's Prashanth Sellathurai and Alexander Artemev of the U.S. Chen Yibing of China won rings over 2003 world champion Iordan Iovchev of Bulgaria and 2005 world champion Yuri van Gelder of The Netherlands. Philippe Rizzo captured Australia's first gold medal in men's gymnastics by winning the horizontal bar ahead of Slovenia's Aljaz Pegan and Vlasios Maras of Greece.

      China (182.200 points) gained its first women's world championships team title, followed by the defending champion U.S. (181.350 points) and Russia (177.325 points). Three women earned their respective countries' first gymnastics gold. Italy's Vanessa Ferrari captured the women's individual all-around, ahead of American Jana Bieger and Romania's Sandra Raluca Izbasa. Elizabeth Tweddle won the U.K's first gold medal on the uneven bars, defeating defending world champion Anastasia Liukin of the U.S. Ferrari was third. Iryna Krasnyanska won the first gold for Ukraine by placing first on the balance beam. Romania's Izbasa finished second, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs took the bronze, Canada's first world gymnastics medal. Cheng Fei of China earned two individual gold medals. She defended her vault title from the 2005 world championships. Alicia Sacramone of the U.S. took the silver, and the bronze went to 31-year-old Oksana Chusovitina, who was competing for Germany after having won the event in 2003 for Uzbekistan. On floor exercise Cheng bested Bieger and Ferrari.

      In the absence of a world championship in 2006, rhythmic gymnasts focused on the two-year World Cup cycle, which culminated on November 17–18 in Mie prefecture, Japan. The world's eight top-ranking individuals and national groups were invited to the World Cup final, where Vera Sesina of Russia won three individual specialities (clubs, ribbon, and ball), earned a silver in the fourth (rope), and led Russia to a gold and a silver in the team events.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2006

      At the artistic gymnastics world championships, held in Melbourne during Nov. 21–27, 2005, the United States was the dominant force in the women's competition, winning 9 out of the 10 medals for which it was eligible (4 gold, 4 silver, and 1 bronze). This was the U.S. women's best performance at a world championships since 1993, when they collected five medals (three gold and two silver). Americans Chellsie Memmel (37.824 points) and Anastasia Liukin (37.823 points) finished first and second, respectively, in the all-around competition. It marked the first 1–2 finish by the U.S., and the .001-point margin of victory was the closest since Soviet teammates Yelena Shushunova and Oksana Omelyanchik tied for gold at the 1985 world championships. Local favourite Monette Russo won Australia's first individual medal in the all-around, scoring 37.298 points for the bronze medal. During the event finals, Liukin secured the gold medal on the uneven bars and the balance beam. (Liukin came from a strong gymnastics background—her father and coach was an Olympic gymnastics champion for the Soviet Union, and her mother was a former Soviet world champion in rhythmic gymnastics.) American Alicia Sacramone took top honours on floor exercise. China's Cheng Fei won her country's first gold medal on vault. The world championships did not include team events.

 In the men's all-around competition, Japan's Hiroyuki Tomita, the bronze medalist from the 2003 world championships, and Hisashi Mizutori were first and second, respectively. It was Japan's first 1–2 finish since 1970, when it swept the top three all-around places. Denis Savenkov of Belarus took home the bronze. During the men's individual event finals, Slovenian gymnasts won two gold medals; Mitja Petkovsek finished first in the rankings on parallel bars, while his teammate Aljaz Pegan won the high bar with a routine in which he used three consecutive release moves and then dismounted with a triple back. Diego Hypolito captured the floor exercise for Brazil's first title in men's gymnastics. China's Xiao Qin took first on pommel horse with a score of 9.85, earning his third world medal in the event in his fourth consecutive final. Yuri van Gelder of The Netherlands claimed the gold medal on rings for the first world gymnastics medal for his country. Romania's Marian Dragulescu took first on vault.

 The rhythmic gymnastics world championships took place October 3–9 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Russian team overwhelmingly prevailed, with a total of 12 medals and 7 of the 9 golds awarded, including the group all-around title. Ukraine was second overall, with seven medals but no golds. Olga Kapranova, age 17, almost swept the individual apparatus titles, with solid triumphs in ball, rope, clubs, and the four-event individual all-around final. Her teammate Vera Sesina won gold in the ribbon competition. Only Italy and Bulgaria broke through the Russian domination, with one victory each in the group apparatus finals.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2005

      The Olympic Games, held in Athens during August 13–29, dominated the gymnastics calendar in 2004. In the men's team competition, China was favoured after having won the gold medal at the 2003 Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) world championships, but Japan, which finished third in 2003, turned out to be the strongest team at the Games and became Olympic champion. The United States earned the silver, its first team gymnastics medal in a nonboycotted Games since 1932. Romania gained the bronze, while China finished fifth in the team competition behind South Korea.

      In the men's all-around competition, American Paul Hamm, the reigning world champion, came back from a fall on vault to win the gold medal. South Korea's Kim Dae Eun and Yang Tae Young earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively. Hamm's victory turned into controversy when the South Korean gymnastics federation lodged a complaint that Yang's parallel bars routine had been given a 9.9 start value (the level of difficulty from which point deductions are taken for errors) instead of a 10.0. Under FIG rules, protests had to be filed immediately, and scores could not be changed once the meet was over. The Korean Olympic Committee took its protest to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and in late October the court ruled to dismiss South Korea's appeal, in keeping with the original ruling by FIG.

      In the men's event finals, each of the six events was won by an athlete from a different country. Canadian Kyle Shewfelt claimed the gold on floor exercise; China's Teng Haibin captured gold on pommel horse; hometown favourite Dimosthenis Tampakos of Greece won the rings title; Spain's Gervasio Deferr repeated his 2000 Olympic triumph on vault; and Valery Goncharov of Ukraine won parallel bars. Italy's Igor Cassina was awarded the gold on horizontal bar, but the event was marred by spectator protests over the low scoring for Russian defending champion Aleksey Nemov.

      On the women's side, defending Olympic champion Romania won the team gold medal, slightly outdistancing the U.S. and Russia, which took the silver and bronze medals, respectively. Carly Patterson gained the all-around title to become only the second American (after Mary Lou Retton in 1984) to have accomplished this feat. Russia's Svetlana Khorkina won the silver, and Zhang Nan of China took the bronze. Romania dominated the event finals competition, with Monica Rosu winning vault and Catalina Ponor earning gold in both balance beam and floor exercise. France's Emilie Lepennec won the title on uneven bars.

      In the rhythmic gymnastics competition, Russia's Alina Kabayeva, who had finished with the individual bronze medal in 2000, was able to capture the gold in 2004. Kabayeva's teammate Irina Chashina earned the silver, while Ukraine's Anna Bessonova won the bronze. In group competition, Russia won the title, followed by Italy and Bulgaria.

      Germany's Anna Dogonadze hit a solid routine to claim the trampoline gold medal. Canadian Karen Cockburn won the silver medal, and Huang Shanshan of China took the bronze. On the men's side, Yury Nitikin of Ukraine won the gold medal. Russia's Aleksandr Moskalenko, the defending Olympic champion in trampoline, won the silver medal, and Germany's Henrik Stehlik claimed the bronze.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2004

      The 100th anniversary of the world gymnastics championships took place in Anaheim, Calif., during Aug. 16–24, 2003. Despite losing three members of its team to injury and/or illness, the United States captured its first women's team gold medal. Romania, the team that had won every women's world team title since 1991, finished a distant second, and Australia earned its first team medal, taking the bronze. Russia's Svetlana Khorkina came from behind to win her third world championships all-around title. Carly Patterson of the U.S. finished a close second, and China's Zhang Nan was third. During the event finals, Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina, competing in her seventh world championships at age 28, took the gold medal on vault. There was a tie for the gold on the uneven bars between Americans Hollie Vise and Chellsie Memmel. Fan Ye of China took first place on the beam, and Daiane Dos Santos was the top scoring gymnast on floor exercise, becoming Brazil's first gymnastics world champion.

      On the men's side, the ever-powerful Chinese maintained their dominance, winning the team title. China had won five of the last six men's world team titles; in 2001 China had finished fifth when its top gymnasts stayed home to compete in the Chinese national games. The U.S., which had led after the preliminary round of competition, won its second consecutive team silver medal. Japan, which had stayed home from the world championships in 2001, finished third. Paul Hamm won the all-around title, the first male gymnast from the U.S. to accomplish this feat. China's Yang Wei finished second, and Japan's Hiroyuki Tomita was third. In three of the six event finals, gold medals were won by athletes from China: Teng Haibin on the pommel horse (tied with Japan's Takehiro Kashima) and Li Xiaopeng in both the vault and the parallel bars. Hamm and Bulgaria's Iordan Iovchev tied for the gold medal on floor exercise, and Iovchev and Greece's Dimosthenis Tampakos tied for top honours on the still rings. Kashima had the highest score on the horizontal bar.

      The rhythmic gymnastics world championships took place September 24–28 in Budapest. Russia won the world team title. With a comfortable lead after day one, the Russian team held strong during day two of competition. Ukraine, the defending world champion, could achieve only second place. The fight for third place was intense between Belarus and Greece, but Belarus finally managed to take the bronze medal. In the all-around competition, Russia's Alina Kabayeva won the title. Ukraine's Anna Bessonova, who was the crowd favourite, trailed slightly to earn the silver medal. Irina Chashina of Russia took home the bronze. During the event finals, Bessonova won the hoop and the clubs events, while Kabayeva won the ball and the ribbon competitions. Russia won the group event, followed by Bulgaria and Belarus.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2003

      The 2002 artistic gymnastics world championships took place in Debrecen, Hung., on November 20–24. On the women's side Yelena Zamolodchikova of Russia, the 2000 Olympic champion in vault, once again earned the vault title, winning gold with a score of 9.443. Zamolodchikova was followed by teammate Natalya Ziganshina, who earned the silver medal, and bronze medal winner Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan. American Courtney Kupets upset two-time Olympic gold medalist Svetlana Khorkina of Russia for the uneven bars title, scoring a 9.550. Romania's Ioana Petrovschi earned the silver medal, and Russia's Lyudmila Eyova won bronze. Khorkina fell twice and finished in seventh place. Ashley Postell, a new face from the U.S. at international competitions, balanced her way to gold on the beam, scoring 9.537. Oana Mihaela Ban of Romania won the silver medal, and Irina Yarotska of Ukraine took the bronze. Spain's Elena Gómez scored a 9.487 on floor exercise to win the gold, followed by Verona Van Der Leur of The Netherlands and Samantha Sheehan of the U.S.

      On the men's side Marian Dragulescu of Romania won the floor event with a score of 9.712, followed by Spain's Gervasio Deferr in second and Bulgaria's Jordan Jovtchev in third. Marius Daniel Urzica of Romania, the 2000 Olympic pommel horse champion, earned the gold medal in that event with a score of 9.787. Xiao Qin of China took the silver and Takehiro Kashima of Japan the bronze. On still rings Hungary's Szilveszter Csollany finished first with a score of 9.725. Jovtchev was second, and Italy's Matteo Morandi was third. China took first and third on vault, with Li Xiaopeng winning gold with a score of 9.818 and Yang Wei claiming the bronze. Poland's Leszek Blanik earned the silver. Li also won the parallel bars with a score of 9.812, followed by Mitja Petkovsek of Slovakia in second and Aleksey Sinkevich of Belarus in third. Vlasios Maras of Greece earned a 9.725 on the horizontal bar to win the gold, followed by Belarus's Ivan Ivankov and Slovakia's Aljaz Pegan.

      The rhythmic world championships were held on July 12–14 in New Orleans, La. The Russians performed to near perfection to win the team gold medal with a score of 49.050. This made the fourth title for Russia at a rhythmic world championships. The Belarus team, which had medaled consistently at the worlds, including a second-place finish in 1999, performed a high-energy routine and showed excellent execution to finish second, followed by Greece in third.

      At the Trampoline and Tumbling World Cup finals, France's Nicolas Fournials earned the men's tumbling title, and Russia's Anna Korobeynikova won the women's. In the men's trampoline competition, France's David Martin took top honours, while Russia's Irina Karavayeva won the women's title. In synchronized trampoline France earned gold on the men's side, and Great Britain won gold on the women's.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2002

      The 2001 artistic gymnastics world championships were held in Ghent, Belg., on October 27–November 4. The Belarus men's team won its first world championship title with a score of 169.622, rounding out its collection of medals, which included a team silver medal in 1997 and a team bronze in 1999. The U.S. earned its first men's team medal since 1979, winning the silver; Ukraine took the bronze. China's 16-year-old Feng Jing, competing in his first world championship event, won the all-around title with a score of 56.211. Belarusian Ivan Ivankov, a two-time world and European all-around champion, had to settle for the silver, followed by Bulgaria's Jordan Jovtchev with the bronze.

      Jovtchev and Romania's Marian Dragulescu tied for the gold medal on the floor exercise with a pair of 9.550 scores. Dragulescu also won gold on the vault (9.668), and Jovtchev secured the title on the still rings (9.775). Marius Urzica, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist, repeated his success on the pommel horse (9.800). U.S. national champion Sean Townsend claimed top honours on the parallel bars (9.70). Vlasios Maras of Greece won gold on the horizontal bar (9.737) in his first world championship.

      On the women's side, Romania, with a score of 110.209, won its sixth team title, followed by Russia and the U.S. Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, the 1997 world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, won yet another all-around title at the 2001 worlds, scoring 37.617. Her teammate Nataliya Ziganshina took second. Romania's Andreea Raducan—who was initially declared the all-around gold medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games but then was disqualified for having a positive drug test—finished third in Ghent.

      Khorkina went on to win two individual events in addition to the all-around title, scoring a 9.412 on the vault and a 9.437 on the uneven bars. Raducan grabbed the gold medals on the balance beam and the floor exercise, with scores of 9.662 and 9.550, respectively.

      The rhythmic world championships took place on October 18–21 in Madrid. Former Soviet countries earned all three team medals. Russia dominated the team competition, scoring 275.900, more than 16 points over its nearest competitor, Ukraine, which claimed the silver. Belarus captured the bronze. Russia's Alina Kabayeva won her second world all-around title, with a score of 113.025, followed by her teammate Irina Chashina and Ukraine's Tamara Yerofeeva.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2001

      At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, China claimed its first Olympic gymnastics men's team gold medal with a score of 231.919. Ukraine, bronze medalists at the 1996 Games, won the silver (230.306), while Russia took the bronze (230.019). Russian Aleksey Nemov earned the Olympic all-around title with 58.474 points. China's Yang Wei won the silver, and Ukraine's Oleksandr Beresh received the bronze. During the men's event finals, the six gold medals went to athletes from six different countries. Igors Vihrovs of Latvia won the floor exercise, Romania's Marius Urzica won on the pommel horse, Szilveszter Csollany from Hungary earned the rings title, Spain's Gervasio Deferr prevailed in the vault, and China's Li Xiaopeng won on the parallel bars. Nemov and Benjamin Varonian of France tied for first on the horizontal bar with a score of 9.787, but Nemov won through a complex official tiebreaking system and earned the gold.

      Romania came from behind in the women's team competition to win the title with a score of 154.608. Russia, which had dominated the team event with 10 Olympic titles as the Soviet Union (including its 1992 win as the “unified team”), earned the silver medal. China captured the bronze. Controversy surrounded the women's all-around competition when it was discovered that the vault had been set 5 cm (about 2 in) too low during the first two rotations, which led to a fifth round of competition for those gymnasts who elected to repeat the event. Some competitors, notably 1997 world champion Svetlana Khorkina of Russia, were unable to recover their form and fared badly in later rotations. Romania's Andreea Raducan earned the all-around gold, scoring 38.893, followed by her teammates Simona Amanar and Maria Olaru who took the silver and bronze, respectively. Days later, however, Raducan was stripped of her all-around gold medal (but was allowed to keep her team gold) because she tested positive for the banned stimulant pseudoephedrine—an ingredient found in cold medicine that was prescribed to her by her team doctor. This pushed Amanar into first place, Olaru into second, and China's Liu Xuan into third. In the women's event finals competition, Russia's Yelena Zamolodchikova won the vault and floor exercise, and Liu won the balance beam. Khorkina recovered to prevail in her signature event, the uneven bars.

      In the first-ever Olympic trampoline competition, Russia's Irina Karavayeva and Aleksandr Moskalenko won their respective titles. In the rhythmic gymnastics competition, Yuliya Barsukova of Russia earned the individual gold, while in the group competition Russia and Belarus tied at 39.50. A tiebreaking procedure awarded the gold to Russia, the reigning world champions.

Luan Peszek

▪ 2000

      The artistic gymnastics world championships took place in Tianjin, China, on Oct. 8–16, 1999, and served as the qualifying event for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. China captured the overall men's team victory with a total of 230.395 points. Russia won the silver (228.145), and Belarus captured the bronze (227.631). The top 12 teams for men and women earned the right to compete in Sydney.

      During the men's all-around finals, Nikolay Krukov of Russia won the title with a score of 57.485. Japan's Naoya Tsukahara earned second (57.337). There was a battle for the bronze medal, with Yordan Yovchev of Bulgaria scoring 57.212, just 0.001 point ahead of American Blaine Wilson.

      Russia's Aleksey Nemov won individual gold medals in the floor exercise (9.787) and the pommel horse (9.775). China collected two gold medals, by Dong Zhen on still rings (9.775) and Li Xiaopeng in the vault (9.668). South Korea's Lee Joo Hyung won on the parallel bars (9.75), and Jesus Carballo of Spain triumphed on the horizontal bar (9.762). On the women's side, Romania narrowly won its fourth consecutive team title with a score of 153.527 over Russia's 153.209 and China's 152.423. Romania's Maria Olaru took the all-around gold, scoring 38.774, while Victoriya Karpenko of Ukraine earned the silver medal (38.705) and Yelena Zamolodchikova of Russia won the bronze (38.687). Zamolodchikova also won in the vault (9.718), while the 1997 world champion, Svetlana Khorkina of Russia, took the gold on the uneven bars (9.837). Ling Jie of China took first on the balance beam (9.775), and Romania's Andreea Raducan achieved the gold in the floor exercise (9.837).

      The rhythmic world championships took place in Osaka, Japan, on September 28–October 3. Russia's Alina Kabayeva won the all-around with a score of 39.924, followed by Yuliya Raskina of Belarus in second (39.774) and Yuliya Barsukova of Russia in third (39.723). Russia won the team finals and the group competition.

      The trampoline and tumbling world championships, which took place September 23–26 in Sun City, S.Af., served as the qualifying competition for the event's first appearance at the Olympic Games. Russia's Irina Karavayeva and Aleksandr Moskalenko earned number one rankings in women's and men's trampoline, respectively, with Russia as the country ranked number one.

Luan Peszek

▪ 1999

      In May 1998 the Group Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships took place in Seville, Spain. In a close contest Belarus won the overall title with a score of 39.366, followed by Spain (39.133) and Russia (39.132).

      The Goodwill Games held in New York City in July provided the major international competition in artistic gymnastics. Dominique Moceanu of the U.S. reigned as the all-around champion in her first major competition since sharing the team gold at the 1996 Olympic Games. Moceanu, who scored a 38.662, also became the first non-Russian woman to win a Goodwill Games all-around gold medal. Romanian gymnasts Maria Olaru and Simona Amanar took second and third all-around with scores of 37.975 and 37.850, respectively. Vanessa Atler of the U.S. won two event finals, scoring a 9.662 on vault and 9.775 on floor exercise. Russia's Svetlana Khorkina won gold on the uneven bars with a 9.825, and American Kristen Maloney topped the competition on the balance beam with a score of 9.775.

      On the men's side, reigning world champion Ivan Ivankov of Belarus won the all-around title with a score of 57.500, followed by Russia's Aleksey Bondarenko (56.700) and American Blaine Wilson (56.575). All six of the individual men's events were won by different gymnasts. Russia's Aleksey Nemov and Nikolay Krukov won floor exercise and pommel horse, scoring 9.725 and 9.650, respectively. The still rings title went to Chris LaMorte of the U.S. with a score of 9.70. Sergey Fedorchenko of Kazakstan finished first on vault with a 9.650, China's Xu Huang won parallel bars with a 9.725, and Ivankov scored 9.725 on the horizontal bar to win the title.

      In rhythmic competition at the Goodwill Games, Russia's Alina Kabayeva earned the all-around title with a score of 39.781, followed by Yelena Vitrichenko of Ukraine with a 39.657 and Yevgeniya Pavlina of Belarus with a 39.640. Kabayeva won three of the four events, including hoop (9.983), clubs (9.958), and ribbon (9.941). Vitrichenko took the rope title with a 9.908.

      It was announced that the International Trampoline Federation and the International Federation of Sports Acrobatics would be allowed to join the International Gymnastics Federation, provided they dissolved their respective federations by year's end.

LUAN PESZEK

▪ 1998

      The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which governs the sport of gymnastics, announced that beginning in 1997 there would no longer be compulsory competition in world championships and the Olympic Games. Only the optional competition, in which each gymnast is allowed to create a unique routine, would be held. The FIG also raised the minimum age for women from 15 to 16 in the year of the competition and elected a new president, Italy's Bruno Grandi. This brought to an end Yury Titov's 20-year reign as president.

      The artistic world championship events were held in Lausanne, Switz., on September 1-7. The women's competition was won by Romania, followed by Russia, China, Ukraine, France, and the United States. On the men's side China won the title, followed by Belarus, Russia, Japan, the U.S., and Germany.

      Svetlana Khorkina of Russia staged a last-minute comeback on the uneven bars to jump from fourth to first in the all-around competition. Romania's Simona Amanar was second, and Russia's Yelena Produnova took third. Belarus's Ivan Ivankov won his second men's all-around title. Aleksey Bondarenko of Russia took the silver, and Japan's Naoya Tsukahara earned the bronze.

      In the men's events Aleksey Nemov of Russia won the floor exercise, Kazakstan's Sergey Fedorchenko took the vault, and China's Zhang Jinjing won the parallel bars. Yuri Chechi of Italy captured his fifth straight world title on the still rings, and Finland's Jani Tanskanen won the horizontal bar, gaining his country's first gold medal in 47 years. On the pommel horse three gymnasts finished with an identical score of 9.700. In a new rule intended to avoid ties, the gold medal was awarded to Valeri Belenki of Germany on the basis of his qualifying score. Eric Poujade of France received the silver, and the 1996 winner, North Korea's Pae Gil Su, was granted the bronze.

      The four women's events were won by three gymnasts representing two countries, Romania and Russia. Amanar won the vault, Khorkina took the uneven bars, and Romania's Gina Gogean won the balance beam and floor exercise.

      The rhythmic world championships were held in Berlin on October 23-26. Russia earned the team title, followed by Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Bulgaria, and Italy. Ukraine's Yelena Vitrichenko took the all-around title, followed by Russia's Nataliya Likovskaya and Yana Batyrchina. Russia and Ukraine swept the individual events, with Batyrchina winning the rope, Likovskaya taking hoop with a perfect 10, and Vitrichenko earning the clubs and ribbon titles with scores of a perfect 10 on each.

LUAN PESZEK

▪ 1997

      The world championships of artistic gymnastics, held in Puerto Rico on April 15-21, 1996, garnered relatively little attention in its role as a lead-in to the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., in July-August. There was no team or individual all-around competition at the tournament, and so the full focus on those events was aimed at Atlanta, where the U.S. women won their first-ever team all-around Olympic gold medal. The U.S. went into the optional events closely trailing Russia. It remained a close competition until the final rotation, when 18-year-old Kerri Strug fell on her first vault and then nailed her second (and final) attempt despite a badly sprained ankle. Her effort clinched the gold for the U.S. team and created a popular ideal of the selfless Olympic athlete that clung to Strug long after the Games were over. Liliya Podkopayeva of Ukraine was the all-around Olympic champion and added the gold medal for the floor exercise.

      Among the men, Li Xiaoshuang of China added the Olympic all-around crown to his collection. Russia won the team all-around title by a narrow margin over China. In the last three Olympics, in the men's competitions, the Soviet Union and its successor countries had won 17 gold medals, followed by China with 3 and the U.S. with 1. Among the women, the Soviet Union and its successor nations had captured 9 gold medals, Romania 6, the U.S. 2, and China 1.

      At the 1992 Olympics the Unified Team of Soviet gymnasts, men and women, had accounted for nine gold, five silver, and four bronze medals. At Atlanta, however, gymnasts from former Soviet republics were not as successful. The women accounted for three gold and two silver medals, and the men gained three golds, one silver, and seven bronzes. Best of the Russians individually was Aleksey Nemov, who won gold in the vault and also a silver and three bronzes. Vitaly Sherbo, winner of six gold medals at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, won a gold medal in the floor exercise at the 1996 world championships, but he was held to four bronze medals in Atlanta.

      Spain was the surprising gold medalist in the group event in the expanded rhythmic gymnastics program, slipping past Bulgaria by less than 0.1 point. Ukraine placed first and third in the individual rhythmic event, won by Yekaterina Serebryanskaya. Yanina Batyrchina of Russia was the silver medalist. (CHARLES ROBERT PAUL, JR.)

▪ 1996

      A record number of 56 nations participated in the gymnastics world championships in Sabae, Japan, on Oct. 1-10, 1995. China won the men's team title on the basis of strong performances in the optional exercises. It was the second straight team championship for China. In addition, Li Xiaoshuang of China won the men's all-around title by defeating Vitaly Sherbo of Belarus, the reigning Olympic champion and 1993 world champion, 57.998 to 57.499.

      Romania won the women's team title, with China second and the United States third. In the all-around competition, Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine outscored Svetlana Khorkina of Russia 39.248 to 39.130. The best U.S. finishes in this event were by Dominique Moceanu, 5th, Kerri Strug, 7th, and former world champion Shannon Miller, 12th.

      Both compulsory and optional exercises were part of the team competition. However, only optionals were used in the event finals.

      China won 10 medals in the men's and women's competitions, including three golds. Romania and Ukraine also won a trio of gold medals. Sherbo had the best individual performances, winning gold medals in the floor exercise and the parallel bars and a bronze in the vault.

      Other winners in the men's competition included Yuri Chechi of Italy on the rings, for the third straight year; Li Donghua, born in China but competing for Switzerland, on the pommel horse; and Andreas Wecker of Germany on the horizontal bar. Grigory Misutin of Ukraine and Russia's Aleksey Nemov shared the vaulting crown.

      In addition to her all-around title, Podkopayeva tied for first in the vault with Simona Amanar of Romania. The most exciting routine was the original exercise presented by Khorkina on her way to the gold medal on the uneven bars. Other individual winners in the women's competition were Mo Huilan of China on the balance beam and Gina Gogean of Romania in the floor exercise. (CHARLES ROBERT PAUL, JR.)

▪ 1995

      The world championships in gymnastics, held in Brisbane, Australia, April 19-24, 1994, were conducted under new rules of competition. First, there were no qualifications for the all-around competition; second, a separate team competition was held later in the year; third, there were no compulsory exercises; and, fourth, the top eight in a preliminary competition in the individual events advanced to the finals. This last change opened up the competition to specialists.

      In women's competition Russia led in the medal count with one gold, one silver, and three bronze out of the 15 available. Romania also won five medals. For the United States Shannon Miller (see BIOGRAPHIES (Miller, Shannon )) won two golds; she retained her all-around title, the first back-to-back victory in that event since 1974, and triumphed in the balance beam. Other winners of more than one medal included Dina Kochetkova of Russia with a gold medal in the floor exercise and bronzes in the all-around and uneven parallel bars, Lovina Milosovici of Romania with silvers in the all-around and the floor exercise and a bronze in the vault, Svetlana Khorkina of Russia with silver medals in the vault and the uneven parallel bars, and Gina Gogean of Romania with a gold in the vault and a bronze in the floor exercise.

      Although Vitaly Sherbo of Belarus yielded the all-around title in the men's competition to teammate Ivan Ivankov, he won gold medals in the vault, the floor exercise, and the horizontal bar and placed third in the all around. Thirteen nations shared the remaining 16 available medals. In addition to Sherbo, the champions in the individual events included Yuri Chechi of Italy, winner of the rings for the second straight year; Marius Urzica of Romania in the pommel horse; and China's Huang Liping in the parallel bars. Paul O'Neill of the U.S. placed second on the rings, the first time since 1979 that the U.S. had had a medal winner in the men's world championships.

      Maria Petrova of Bulgaria was all-around champion in the world rhythmic championships in Paris in October. Russia won the group competition by a margin of 0.225 over Spain.

      (CHARLES ROBERT PAUL, JR.)

▪ 1994

      The United States gained the number one ranking in women's gymnastics in 1993 after winning five medals in the world championships in Birmingham, England. U.S. gymnasts Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes, both 16, won a total of five medals, three golds for Miller and two silvers for Dawes. Romania won one gold, three silver, and two bronze medals, and the other medals went to Belarus (one gold) and Ukraine (one bronze).

      Miller's best performances were 9.825 points in the floor exercise, 9.825 on the uneven parallel bars, and 9.787 on the vault, which helped her clinch all-around honours. In addition, Miller and Dawes placed first and second, respectively, on the uneven parallel bars, and Dawes was nosed out for the gold medal on the balance beam by Lavinia Milosovici of Romania.

      The silver medalist in the women's all-around was Romania's Gina Cogean, 15. She had been a member of the second-place Romanian team in the 1992 Olympics. The bronze medalist was Tatyana Lyssenko of Ukraine, the Olympic champion in 1992 on the balance beam.

      Of the 21 medals in the men's competition, gymnasts from former Soviet republics earned five golds, two silvers, and three bronzes. The individual star was Vitali Sherbo of Belarus, who added three gold and two silver medals to the six golds that he had won in the 1992 Olympics. Sherbo's unusually large winning margin in the all-around over Sergey Charkov of Russia was more than 0.5 point. Charkov had returned to world championship competition after an absence of five years following surgery to repair gymnastics injuries, and he did win the gold on the horizontal bar. Andreas Wecker of Germany was the second most successful men's competitor, winning silver medals on the pommel horse and still rings and a bronze in the all-around. Neil Thomas became the first Briton ever to win a medal in the world championships when he placed second in the floor exercise.

      Valery Belensky, sixth in the men's all-around, competed under the flag of the International Gymnastic Federation because his republic of Azerbaijan had not been recognized by the federation. He had won the all-around crown in the 1990 World Cup competition.

      Under new rules, from 1993 there would be no "team" prize in the world championships. Moreover, each nation would be limited to a maximum of two entries in the finals of the individual apparatus events.

      (CHARLES ROBERT PAUL, JR.)

* * *

Introduction
 the performance of systematic exercises—often with the use of rings, bars, and other apparatus—either as a competitive sport or to improve strength, agility, coordination, and physical conditioning.

History
      The term gymnastics, derived from a Greek word meaning “to exercise naked,” applied in ancient Greece (ancient Greek civilization) to all exercises practiced in the gymnasium, the place where male athletes did indeed exercise unclothed. Many of these exercises came to be included in the Olympic Games, until the abandonment of the Games in AD 393. Some of the competitions grouped under this ancient definition of gymnastics later became separate sports such as athletics (track and field), wrestling, and boxing.

      Of the modern events currently considered to be gymnastics, only tumbling and a primitive form of vaulting were known in the ancient world. For instance, Egyptian hieroglyphs show variations of backbends and other stunts being performed with a partner, while a well-known fresco from Crete at the palace at Knossos shows a leaper performing what is either a cartwheel or handspring over a charging bull. Tumbling was an art form in ancient China as well. Stone engravings found in Shandong province that date to the Han period (206 BC–AD 220) portray acrobatics being performed.

      Tumbling continued in the Middle Ages in Europe, where it was practiced by traveling troupes of thespians, dancers, acrobats, and jugglers. The activity was first described in the West in a book published in the 15th century by Archange Tuccaro, Trois dialogues du Sr. Archange Tuccaro (the book contains three essays on jumping and tumbling). Tumbling seems to be an activity that evolved in various forms in many cultures with little cross-cultural influence. For instance, the hoop-diving illustrated in Tuccaro's book looks very similar to a type of tumbling seen in ancient China. Tumbling and acrobatics of all kinds were eventually incorporated into the circus, and it was circus acrobats who first used primitive trampolines.

      Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques)'s novel Émile; ou, de l'éducation (1762; Emile; or, On Education) is credited by historians as the catalyst of educational reform (education) in Europe that combined both the physical and cognitive training of children. Rousseau's work inspired educational reformers in Germany, who opened schools known as Philanthropinum in the late 1700s that featured a wide variety of outdoor activities, including gymnastics; children from all economic strata were accepted. The “grandfather” of modern gymnastics, Johann Christoph Friedrich Guts Muths (1759–1839), was a leading teacher at the Philanthropinist school in Schnepfenthal. In his seminal work, Gymnastik für die Jugend (1793; Gymnastics for Youth), Guts Muths envisioned two main divisions of gymnastics: natural gymnastics and artificial gymnastics. These two divisions may be thought of as utilitarian and nonutilitarian gymnastics. The former disciplines emphasize the health of the body, similar to the exercises developed in Sweden and Denmark under Per Henrik Ling (1776–1839) and Neils Bukh (1880–1950), respectively. Modern aerobics also falls into this category; indeed, sports aerobics has recently been added to the disciplines sponsored by the International Gymnastics Federation. In contrast, nonutilitarian gymnastics is characterized by modern artistic gymnastics, the maneuvers of which are geared to beauty and not function. For example, in feudal Europe young men were taught to mount and dismount a horse, useful knowledge during a time when armies rode. Modern “horse” work in artistic gymnastics has evolved to a point where there is no practical connection between gymnastic maneuvers on a horse and horsemanship. Only the language of riding remains, with the terms “mount” and “dismount” still being used in gymnastics.

      The prime developer of natural gymnastics was Per Henrik Ling. In 1813 Ling founded a teacher-training centre, the Royal Gymnastics Central Institute, in Stockholm. Ling devised and taught a system of gymnastic exercises designed to produce medical benefits for the athlete. calisthenics are attributed to him, including free calisthenics—that is, exercises without the use of hand apparatus such as clubs, wands, and dumbbells. Although Ling did not promote competition, free calisthenics have evolved into the competitive sport now known as floor exercise.

      The acknowledged “father” of gymnastics, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (Jahn, Friedrich Ludwig), founder of the turnverein movement, is credited with the rapid spread of gymnastics throughout the world. Gymnastic competition can be traced to the outdoor playground (Turnplatz) Jahn opened in a field known as the “Hasenheide” (rabbit field) on the outskirts of Berlin (Germany). Ernst Eiselen, Jahn's assistant and the coauthor of Die Deutsche Turnkunst (1816; The German Gymnastic Art), carefully noted and explained the various exercises developed on the playground. The pommel horse was used for leg-swinging exercises and for vaulting. Jahn invented the parallel bars to increase the upper-body strength of his students, and immense towers were erected to test their courage. Balance beams, horizontal bars (horizontal bar), climbing ropes, and climbing poles were also found at the Turnplatz. Primitive pole vaulting was practiced along with other athletic games. The wide variety of challenging apparatus found on the playground attracted young men who were then, in addition, indoctrinated with Jahn's dream of German unification and his ideas on the defense of the fatherland and ridding Prussia of French influence.

      The Prussians and leaders from surrounding countries became wary of nationalist sentiments, and Jahn and his followers were viewed with suspicion after the defeat of Napoleon (Napoleon I) in 1813. By 1815 student organizations such as the Burschenschaft (“Youth Branch”) were in favour of adopting a constitutional form of government, arming the citizenry, and instituting greater civil freedoms. In 1819, after the murder of the German playwright August von Kotzebue (Kotzebue, August von) by a Burschenschaft gymnast, the Prussian king Frederick William III closed approximately 100 gymnastics fields and centres in Prussia. Other Germanic states followed suit. Jahn was arrested, jailed as a democratic demagogue, and placed under house arrest for the next five years. He was eventually acquitted but was admonished to relocate far from Berlin to a city or town with neither institutions of higher learning or gymnasia. He was awarded a yearly stipend and settled in Freiburg. The time was a period of personal tragedy for Jahn; two of his three children died while he was under house arrest, and his wife died shortly thereafter. Three of his close followers, Karl Beck, Karl Follen (Follen, Karl), and Franz Lieber (Lieber, Francis), fearing arrest, fled to North America, bringing gymnastics with them. The Turners remaining in Prussia went underground until the ban on gymnastics was lifted by King Frederick William IV in 1842.

      The first German gymnastic festival (Turnfest) was held in Coburg in 1860. The festival attracted affiliated Turnverein clubs and marked the beginning of international competition, as the growing family of Turners outside of Germany were invited to participate. Americans had been introduced to gymnastics by followers of Jahn in the late 1820s, but not until 1848, when large numbers of Germans immigrated, did transplanted Turnverein members organize clubs and establish a national union of Turner societies. (A similar movement, the Sokol, originated and spread in Bohemia and was also transported to the United States.) By 1861 American Turners and Turners from Germanic regions bordering Prussia attended the second Turnfest in Berlin. By the time of the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, eight Turnfests had taken place in Germany with the participation of a growing number of countries.

      In 1881 the Fédération Internationale Gymnastique (FIG) was founded to supervise international competition. The 1896 Olympic Games fostered interest in gymnastics, and the FIG World Championships in gymnastics were organized for men in 1903, for women in 1934.

      The 1896 Olympic Games marked the advent of true international, open competition in gymnastics. The Games featured typical German, or “heavy apparatus,” events and rope climbing. Gymnastics competitions were not standardized nor free of track-and-field events until the 1928 Olympics, when five of the six events presently held in Olympic gymnastics were contested—pommel horse, rings, vaulting, parallel bars, and horizontal bar, with both compulsory and optional routines required. Women first competed in the Olympics in 1928 in events similar to those of the men except for the addition of the balance beam. Floor exercise events were added in 1932.

Gymnasts
      Many of the world's greatest gymnasts have come from eastern Europe. Larisa Latynina (Latynina, Larisa Semyonovna) of Ukraine, later the coach of the Soviet Union team, is widely considered the greatest female gymnast of all time; she was the all-around champion in two Olympics (1956 and 1960) and two world championships (1958 and 1962). No other gymnast has achieved this distinction. Latynina's prime rival was Věra Čáslavská (Čáslavská, Věra) of Czechoslovakia, who later became the Czech Republic's Minister of Sport. Čáslavská was all-around champion three times, including two Olympics (1964 and 1968) and one world championship (1966).

      In the 1970s a major change had occurred in women's gymnastics as younger and younger girls began competing in events. Russian gymnast Olga Korbut (Korbut, Olga Valentinovna) and the Romanian Nadia Comăneci (Comăneci, Nadia) were both young teens during their Olympic triumphs. The presence of a preponderance of teenage girls in international gymnastics competition from the late 1970s and into the 21st century was directly related to the Korbut-Comăneci phenomenon. Many of these younger gymnasts, especially those who trained long hours for competitions, had not yet reached menarche, and some used doping techniques to delay the onset of physical maturation and its resulting changes to a gymnast's centre of gravity and weight. Coaching these youngsters posed difficulties since many were lured from or pushed by their families to train in unfamiliar surroundings. By 2000 the age requirement for Olympic participants in gymnastics had been raised to 16 to offset some of these problems.

      In men's gymnastics the greatest champions were Viktor Chukarin (Chukarin, Viktor Ivanovich) of the Soviet team and Katō Sawao of Japan—each two-time Olympic all-around champions (Chukarin in 1952 and 1956, Sawao in 1968 and 1972)—along with Vitaly Scherbo (Sherbo, Vitaly) of Belarus, an Olympic (1992) and world (1993) all-around champion.

The sport
  Olympic gymnastics are grouped into different divisions—artistic, rhythmic, and trampoline. For men the artistic gymnastics events are: floor exercise, pommel horse, rings, vault (vaulting), parallel bars, horizontal bar, and combined exercises (the all-around), which combines the scores of the other six events. The combined exercises for men are contested both on an individual and on a team basis. For women the artistic events are floor exercise, vault, uneven bars (uneven parallel bars), balance beam, and combined exercises, both team and individual.

  Rhythmic group gymnastics was originally required in the women's artistic program but became a separate sport when it was introduced internationally at an invitational competition in Budapest, Hungary, in 1963. Thereafter the Fédération Internationale Gymnastique (FIG) scheduled a world competition in the even-numbered years beginning in 1964. First known as modern rhythmic gymnastics, and later as rhythmic sport gymnastics, the discipline now known as rhythmic gymnastics became an Olympic sport in 1984. This branch of gymnastics is practiced only by women. The events in rhythmic gymnastics are named for the hand apparatus employed by the gymnast: rope, hoop, ball, clubs, and ribbon. Medals are awarded at the Olympics and world championships for team, group, all-around, and individual event competition.

  trampoline and tumbling are also under the aegis of the FIG. Trampoline debuted as a men's and women's event at the 2000 Olympic Games; Olympic competition is individual only. World championship trampoline events also include double mini-trampoline and synchronized trampoline competition. In the latter, two gymnasts perform the same routine on two trampolines placed side by side.

      Sports acrobatics has been contested internationally since 1973. In 1998 the International Federation of Sports Acrobatics voted to dissolve and the sport was subsumed by the FIG. The events in sports acrobatics are: women's pairs, mixed pairs, men's pairs, women's trios, and men's fours. Pairs and group exercises are performed to a musical accompaniment on a free-exercise-type platform. There are several routines, some of which must include “human pyramids” that are created by the gymnasts and must be held for four seconds to be scored; the pairs exercise must contain at least six partner-balance elements held for two seconds; and throws with twisting and somersaulting interspersed with tumbling elements must also be included.

      The final discipline sanctioned by the FIG is sports aerobics. Aerobics exercise has been a popular form of physical training for the general public since the mid-1970s. The highly competitive sports version of aerobics features routines of less than two minutes' duration performed by individual men, mixed pairs, individual women, and trios. The sport was first found in the program of general gymnastics in the late 1980s. In 1994 the FIG congress decided to organize the World Aerobic Championships and to structure sports aerobics similarly to its other competitive disciplines. The first official world championships were held in 1995 in Paris with 34 countries participating. In 1997 the International World Games Association included sports aerobics in the fifth World Games. Sports acrobatics and sports aerobics have not yet attained Olympic status.

A. Bruce Frederick

Additional Reading
Ahmed Eldemerdash Touny, Sports History with Ancient Egyptians, published by the Egyptian Olympic Committee in 1981, contains hieroglyphic graphics on Egyptian sport and includes the sites and approximate dates of origin. James G. Thompson, “Clues to the Location of Minoan Bull-Jumping from the Palace at Knossos,” from the Journal of Sport History 16(1):62–69 (Spring 1989) shows one possible way a bull could have been approached by acrobats in the ancient sport of jumping bulls. Information on tumbling and its history may be found in Bonnie and Donnie Cotteral “Historical Sketch of Tumbling,” in The Teaching of Stunts and Tumbling, 1936. For details on Turnfests from 1860–1987 see Herbert Neumann (ed.), Deutsche Turnfeste, 1985. For a biography of gymnastics founder J.C.F. Guts-Muth, see Nicholas J. Moolenijzer, Johann Christoph Friedrich Guts Muths and His Gymnastik für die Jugend: A Commentary and Critique to Accompany the Reprint of the English Translation of 1803, 1970. For information on the trend to very young female gymnasts and its associated problems, see Joan Ryan, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, rev. ed., 2000.A. Bruce Frederick

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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