WHAT IS GYMNASTICS?
The sport of gymnastics, which derives its name from the ancient Greek word for disciplinary exercises, combines physical skills such as body control, co-ordination, dexterity, gracefulness, and strength with tumbling and acrobatic skills, all performed in an artistic manner. It started over 3000 years ago in Ancient Greece where the gymnasts of the time used to vault over live bulls. The performer would run toward a charging bull, grab its horns, and, upon being tossed into the air, execute various mid-air stunts before (hopefully) landing on the bull’s back, then dismounting with a flip.
The modern sport of gymnastics, however, only came into general popularity in the middle of the 19th century, when Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852), known as the father of gymnastics, planned exercises using pieces of stationary apparatus to develop self-discipline and physical strength. The events and rules we follow today were not standardised until the early part of this century.
The men compete on Floor, Pommel Horse, Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars and High Bars. The apparatus used by women gymnasts are Vault, Asymmetric Bars, Beam and Floor. All of these were developed from the men’s equipment apart from the Beam, a discipline for women only.
Each exercise is evaluated by between four and six judges, depending on the level of the event. In International competition one of these officials will be a technician whose job is to evaluate the difficulty of the exercise on behalf of the judging panel. This person does not judge the exercise. Another official will act as the Master Judge whose main task is to ensure that the panel of judges is consistent, and in line with each other.
The highest and lowest scores are discarded, and an average taken of the middle scores.
Apart from the Vault, where each different vault is graded and tariffed according to its difficulty, each exercise is marked accordingly to the difficulty shown, with bonus points being given for exercises that show extreme complexity.