What is Artistic Gymnastics?
Artistic gymnastics is a sport played by both teams and individuals on a global scale. Athletes are challenged to show a variety of skills and capabilities on several apparatuses across a competition. The sport can be found as early as the time of Homer and Aristotle, as they believed gymnastics was a way to find symmetry between the mind and body. The term artistic gymnastics came centuries later in the 1800s when its styles of flowing movement found inspiration from military training. Clubs and teams began to start up from this spark, and this form of gymnastics found its way into the 1896 Olympic games in Athens.
From the late 1800s, the sport of artistic gymnastics evolved drastically. Original disciplines such as club swinging and rock lifting were removed from competition, and by 1924, the sport had evolved into the apparatuses we see in modern competition. Even the age at which athletes competed changed. In the beginning, athletes with backgrounds in ballet such as Nadia Comaneci were dominant as they competed in their early twenties. As time went on, athletes were competing younger and younger, having been trained since early childhood. There is now a regulation that states athletes must be at least sixteen to compete in Olympic-level gymnastics. The 1924 Olympics is where modern artistic gymnastics has its foundations. In that competition, team competitions for men’s gymnastics were introduced. Then, in 1936, the women’s competition was created.
Modern Artistic Gymnastics
In modern artistic gymnastics, men have six apparatuses to compete on while women have four. Men can perform on the parallel bars, high bar, still rings, pommel horse, floor, and vault. Women will also perform on floor and vault, along with uneven bars and high beam. Athletes can compete on all of the events, or they can specialize in one or a few. For international competitions, teams consist of six athletes with each competing in several events. Teams can also send two athletes that qualify to an all-around competition where they are challenged to show capabilities on all events.
Artistic gymnastics is scored by a panel of seasoned judges who decide both how difficult athletes skills are and also how well they perform them. They will all give scores and average those scores to get the athlete’s final score. Athletes are scored on their ability to accurately perform specific skills, their form, and even their rhythm on specific apparatuses. Gymnasts must pay attention to every little detail in performance, down to pointing their toes, if they want to get close to a perfect score for themselves or their team.