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Learn More About Gymnastics

Male Gymnast Rings

What is the history of gymnastics?

Gymnastics first rose to prominence in ancient Greece as a way to prepare soldiers for battle—helping to keep men agile and in peak physical condition. The goal of these warriors was to balance the body with the mind, and less on setting records.

Educational gymnastics began in the 18th century in Germany. After designing special equipment, two physical educators created several exercises for boys, which included the parallel bars, rings, and high bars.

The training standards we know today started in the 1950s. Television allowed gymnastics to enter popular culture and create further enthusiasm and interest. The former Soviet Union dominated the sport until its dissolution; they still hold more gold medals than any other country.

Gymnastics at the Olympic Games

While gymnastics has appeared at every Summer Games since its inception, only men competed for the first 32 years—the first events were the horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, vault, rope climbing, team horizontal bar, and team parallel bars.

Rhythmic gymnastics entered the Games in 1984, with women's individual all-around; group events joined in 1996. Trampoline for both men and women are the newest competitions and have been a part of the games since 2000.

What are the current Olympic gymnastic events?

There are 18 total events. Men compete in all-around team, all-around individual, floor exercise, horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, vault, and individual trampoline. Women compete in all-around team, all-around individual, balance beam, floor exercise, uneven bars, vault, individual all-around rhythmic, group rhythmic, and individual trampoline.

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