Learn about this Summer Olympic sport

April 27, 2012

U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson performs on the balance beam during the gymnastics Women's Team Final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Gymnastics were a part of the earliest Olympics in ancient Greece. Today, the graceful sport remains one of the most popular events of the Summer Games. Gymnastics, a modern Olympic sport since 1896, is a fusion of athleticism and beauty. Competitors must demonstrate strength, speed and flexibility, along with elegance and style.

Rules of the Game

The sport is divided into three main competition formats: artistic, rhythmic and trampoline. All routines are scored based on technique and level of difficulty. The more familiar artistic competition includes team events and individual all-around events. Men compete on the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bars. Women compete on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and in floor exercises.

The rhythmic competition, for women only, includes team and individual events. For this format, gymnasts must perform music-accompanied floor routines using hoops, balls, rope, clubs and ribbon.

The trampoline competition debuted at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, putting a fun and fresh spring into the sport. It features both men's and women's individual events.


Click here to read about swimming at the Olympic Games.

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