15 June 2021

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to artistic gymnastics

July 5, 2012
London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to artistic gymnastics

The word ‘gymnastics’ derives from ‘gymnos’, the Greek word for ‘naked’, since the first gymnasts used to perform in the nude!

Although the professionals make it look effortless, it is an incredibly difficult sport as the gymnasts need unbelievable strength, control and balance, combined with speed and a great spacial awareness, whilst managing to execute every small detail with vast amounts of grace in order to be successful.

All the gymnasts must show daring ambition as the aim is to perfectly execute the hardest moves in order to gain the most points. This requires not only great skill but also exceptional concentration as the smallest extra step, wobble, misalignment or mistake can make all the difference.

Venue: North Greenwich Arena

Date: July 28 – August 7

Jargon buster

Arabesque: A position in which the gymnast will balance on one leg, holding the other leg raised and extended behind the body in a split, preferably at 180 degrees.

All-around: Competitions that feature a variety of different elements (six for men, four for women).

Balance beam: A single beam, 5m long and 10cm wide, used only in women’s competition.

Podium: The raised competition area.

Release: When gymnasts let go of the bar to perform a move before grasping it again.

Salto: A flip or somersault where the gymnast rotates around the axis of their hips.

Vault: The vault is 120cm long and 95cm wide, and is set at a height of 135cm (for men) or 125cm (for women).

Basic rules

Women compete on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor, and the first competition to be contested is the team event, which doubles as the qualification round for the individual and all-around contests.

Scores are given to the gymnasts by a panel of judges who take into account the degree of difficulty and the quality of the execution.

The judges are separated into two groups. One group scores the degree of difficulty of the routine and the other group scores the routines’ execution, artistry and composition.

The top 24 overall gymnasts advance to the all-around final contest while the top eight scorers on each apparatus qualify for the individual apparatus finals.

One to watch

GB’s Beth Tweddle is hoping for a great result at London 2012 before she retires from the sport.

Considered to be the most successful British gymnast of all time, Beth is a three time world champion, being the first gymnast from Britain ever to win a medal at the World and European Championships.

She is also a seven-time British National Champion, having won the title every year between 2001 and 2007.

Olympic rivalry?

China are great contenders with the likes of He Kexin. She won two gold medals at Beijing in the uneven bars events and also as a member of the Chinese Artistic Gymnastics team.

Who to follow on twitter…




Artistic Gymnastics Olympic fact

A total of 324 gymnasts will compete in the three disciplines in the Olympic sport of Gymnastics; Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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