At the Olympic Games there are two groups of gymnastics events for men and for women.
There are floor exercises which are done on a twelve metre square mat.
There are exercises using equipment called apparatus, such as rings, bars, vaulting horse and pommel horse.
There are team events and some events for a single gymnast.
Men and women compete in gymnastics as individuals and in teams. Gymnasts use a variety of equipment and perform skills requiring great strength and poise.
In some events there are set activities which gymnasts must do. In other events the gymnasts can choose which movements they will do.
Gymnastics on the still rings
On the still rings, which are suspended by wires, male gymnasts swing and do handstands and hold other positions. The man's body must not shake or sag. At the end of his routine the man must somersault off and land on both feet.
Gymnastics on the uneven bars
On the uneven bars the women swing and twist without stopping. They swing from bar to bar in smooth movements.
Gymnastics on the balance beam.
Women walk, jump and do handstands on the balance beam. The gymnast must try to use the whole beam. The top of the beam is just ten centimetres wide. The event is timed and must last for about 1 minute and 10 seconds.
Gymnastics on the pommel horse
The men run and jump onto a long padded bench called a pommel horse. They twist and flip while holding onto the handles, which are called pommels.
In rythmic gymnastics floor exercise, the women gymnasts leap, twist and jump as music plays. They run and dance with a hoop or ball, or they twirl a long ribbon, making shapes with it.
Gymnastics has been an Olympic event in every modern games since 1896.
History of gymnastics
Gymnastics originated from Ancient Greece, and gymnastics was originally intended as part of military training. It was used by soldiers to get ready for war. The skills and strength in performing gymnastics in ancient times were thought to be of great help to those in battle.
The ancient Greeks also believed that gymnastics were an important part of education, just as important as art and music. Rope climbing was an event at the ancient Olympics.
The ancient Chines also believed that physical activities were an important part of a person's life. They held mass gymnastics displays, not unlike those still help in modern China.
The armies of the Roman Empire also included gymnastic exercises as part of their training, and they developed a new apparatus, the horse. Roman soldiers practised mounting and dismounting from a wooden horse. The pommel horse and the vaulting horse used in gymnastics today developed from Roman times
Trampoline was a new gymnastics competition at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Gymnasts perform routines of twists, bounces and somersaults. Some leaps reach about 10 metres, and somersaults include a number of twists.
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