The 2016 Summer Olympics: A Look into Gymnastics

The Summer Olympics is an international multi-sport event that occurs every four years in different locations around the world. This year, the event will take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21, 2016.

In the last Olympics, which occurred in the summer of 2012 in London, England, eight teams made up of five gymnasts competed in the finals for gymnastics. Three gymnastics disciplines were included: artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampolining. A total of 54 medals were awarded to gymnasts from across the globe, with China acquiring the most medals for gymnastics at a whopping 12 medals, five gold medals among them. Evgeniya Kanaeva made history by becoming the first back-to-back Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics. Brazil and South Korea also won their first gold medals in the history of the Summer Olympic Games.

The three types of gymnastics are different in various ways. Artistic gymnastics combines strength, balance, flexibility and grace and encourages gymnasts to push themselves to their physical limits. To do this, gymnasts use a variety of apparatus, such as bars, beams and vaults in their floor routines. These performances typically include incredible somersaults and flips.

Some gymnasts try to do certain routines for thirty seconds straight like the arabesque, handstand and twisting somersault. The arabesque is when a gymnast keeps one foot on the beam and lifts one foot in the air behind them with arms extended. The handstand involves balancing the body with both hands on the beam and the twisting somersault is when the gymnast rotates around the axis of the body a full 360 degrees.

Rhythmic gymnastics is when gymnasts perform finely choreographed routines that incorporate hand-held apparatus to impress the judges. The gymnasts use the full area of the mat to attempt shocking maneuvers to try to get the best score. These routines showcase elaborate displays of grace and perfection through body movements. Different movements that are performed include the stage leap, retro roll and the snake. The stage leap is when a gymnast jumps with their legs flexed, the trailing leg extended and the body bent backwards. The retro roll is when a hoop is spun in any direction and is returned to the gymnast like a boomerang. The snake involves the wave motions of a ribbon, similar to that of a snake, that is created with sharp flicks of the wrist.

Trampoline Gymnastics involves bouncing on a trampoline to heights eight meters (approximately 26 feet) while performing acrobatic movements such as twists and somersaults in mid-air. Gymnasts are awarded points for execution, difficulty and flight time. This sport demonstrates brilliance and beauty that leave the audience gasping in astonishment. Some movements that are performed in mid-air include the barani, rudy out and the full in full out. The barani is a forward somersault with a half twist, the rudy out is a double somersault with almost two full twists and the full in full out is a double somersault with a double twist.

The Gymnastics competitions at this summer’s olympics are expected to be very heated. So far, about 154 countries are qualified to participate in the Olympics, including the United States of America. Some gymnasts have been preparing for the Olympics for their entire lives and are ready to showcase their talents this summer. And the world is excited to see what they have to offer. 

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