Artistic Gymnastics is probably the best-known branch of the sport and is one of the biggest crowd pleasers at the Olympic Games. It is an exciting, aesthetic, yet extremely demanding discipline incorporating vault, bars, beam ,floor, parallel bars and pommel. It’s fascination and popularity among gymnasts of all ages lies in it’s ability to provide constant challenge and teach body control, coordination, amplitude and courage. Artistic Gymnastics is the sport of choice for girls and boys who love turning their world upside down, in more ways than one!
Gymnasts approach the vault table from a 25 metre run, transfer their speed to the springboard and seek a quick hand placement to the table. From here the gymnast uses internal spring to launch themselves vertically for a combination of somersaults and twists.
Swinging and continuous movements are required on this apparatus. Routines typically include movements in both directions as well as above and below the bars. Elements with twists and somersaults with multiple grip changes and high flight often are awarded with the highest scores. The wind up and dismount is often the most exciting part of the routine.
A beam routine is an exercise in precision with no room for error. The gymnast performs a combination of acrobatic elements, leaps, jumps, turns, steps, waves and balance elements. These can be done standing, sitting or lying on the beam. It is a requirement that the gymnast uses the entire length of the beam, with routines concluding often with a series of acrobatic elements off the side or end of the beam.
The floor exercise allows the gymnast their moment in the spotlight and is considered by many to be the most expressive piece of apparatus.
A floor routine has sequences interspersed with a variety of tumbling and acrobatic elements. The whole floor area must be used in the routine with clear variances in direction. Individuality, originality, and artistry of presentation are the key ingredients of a great routine.
Elite gymnasts can train in excess of 20-30 hours per week. Typically, daily training sessions are scheduled morning and afternoon lasting for 2-3 hours each session. During training sessions, gymnasts repeatedly practice entire routines or a skill or sequence within a routine, develop new skills, improve strength and flexibility and assist in choreographing routines.
Technical skill, muscular strength, explosive power relative to body weight, flexibility and artistic impression are all essential characteristics required for the world class performance that we see in our top GB athletes.
Gymnasts have to be sixteen years of age in the year of competition to be eligible to compete in major international events such as the Olympics and World Championships. In order to possess the required skills for international success at the minimum eligible age, gymnasts start intensive training at a young age.
With each four-year Olympic cycle, new skills are introduced to international competition and graded according to their degree of difficulty, safety and aesthetic value. Being the first gymnast to introduce a new skill to international competition often results in having the skill named after the gymnast All gymnasts compete in a team qualification competition, as all-round competitors or individual apparatus competitors.
Teams consist of five gymnasts with four of the five contesting each apparatus. The three highest scores from each team, for each apparatus, count towards the final team score. From this initial qualifying round, gymnasts and teams are ranked for the finals competition. Depending on the gymnast's level of skill and overall standing within their team, they may compete in all three competitions or compete solely on one apparatus.