Rhythmic gymnastics

Rhythmic gymnastics
Rhythmic gymnasts from Greece in the 2000 Sydney Olympics

Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which individuals or teams of competitors (from 2 to 6 people) manipulate one or two pieces of apparatus: rope, clubs, hoop, ball, ribbon and Free (no apparatus, so called "floor routine"). An individual athlete only manipulates 1 apparatus at a time. When multiple gymnasts are performing a routine together a maximum of two types of apparatus may be distributed through the group. An athlete can exchange apparatus with a team member at any time through the routine. Therefore, an athlete can manipulate up to two different pieces of apparatus through the duration of the routine. Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation. The victor is the participant who earns the most points, determined by a panel of judges, for leaps, balances, pirouettes (pivots), flexibilities, apparatus handling, execution, and artistic effect.

The governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), changed the Code of Points in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2008 to emphasize technical elements and reduce the subjectivity of judging. Before 2001, judging was on a scale of 10 like that of artistic gymnastics. It was changed to a 30-point scale in 2003, a 20-point scale in 2005, and in 2008 was changed back to 30. There are three values adding up to be the final points—technical, artistic, and execution. The FIG also selects which apparatus will be used in competitions; only four out of the five possible apparatuses are sanctioned. Up to 2010, the clubs were not used at the Senior level. For 2011 rope will be dropped for senior national, then in 2012 it will be dropped for junior national, and in 2013 it will be dropped in novice, and will continued to be dropped through the years descending national to provincial to interclub until eventually rope will be completely out of rhythmic gymnastics.[1] There is strong opposition to this from fans of the sport across the globe.

International competitions are split between Juniors, under sixteen by their year of birth; and Seniors, for women sixteen and over again by their year of birth. Gymnasts in Russia and Europe typically start training at a very young age and those at their peak are typically in their late teens (15–19) or early twenties. The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, and Grand-Prix Tournaments.



French team
Alina Kabaeva, Olympic champion in Athens 2004

Rhythmic gymnastics grew out of the ideas of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), François Delsarte (1811–1871), and Rudolf Bode (1881-1970), who all believed in movement expression, where one used dance to express oneself and exercise various body parts. Peter Henry Ling further developed this idea in his 19th-century Swedish system of free exercise, which promoted "aesthetic gymnastics", in which students expressed their feelings and emotions through bodily movement. This idea was extended by Catharine Beecher, who founded the Western Female Institute in Ohio, United States, in 1837. In Beecher's gymnastics program, called grace without dancing, the young women exercised to music, moving from simple calisthenics to more strenuous activities.

During the 1880s, Émile Jaques-Dalcroze of Switzerland developed eurhythmics, a form of physical training for musicians and dancers. George Demeny of France created exercises to music that were designed to promote grace of movement, muscular flexibility, and good posture. All of these styles were combined around 1900 into the Swedish school of rhythmic gymnastics, which would later add dance elements from Finland. Around this time, Ernst Idla of Estonia established a degree of difficulty for each movement. In 1929, Henrich Medau founded The Medau School in Berlin to train gymnasts in "modern gymnastics", and to develop the use of the apparatus.

Competitive rhythmic gymnastics began in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. The FIG formally recognized this discipline in 1961, first as modern gymnastics, then as rhythmic sportive gymnastics, and finally as rhythmic gymnastics. The first World Championships for individual rhythmic gymnasts was held in 1963 in Budapest. Groups were introduced at the same level in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rhythmic gymnastics was added to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, with an Individual All-Around competition. However, many federations from the Eastern European countries were forced to boycott by the Soviet Union. Canadian Lori Fung was the first rhythmic gymnast to earn an Olympic gold medal. The Group competition was added to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Spanish group won the first gold medal of the new competition with a team formed by Estela Giménez, Marta Baldó, Nuria Cabanillas, Lorena Guréndez, Estíbaliz Martínez and Tania Lamarca.

Olympic participants

Olympic rhythmic gymnastics has only female participants. Girls start at a young age and become age-eligible to compete in the Olympic Games and other major international competitions on January 1 of their 16th year. (For example, a gymnast born December 31, 1992 would have been age eligible for the 2008 Olympics). Top rhythmic gymnasts must have many qualities: balance, flexibility, coordination and strength are some of the most important. They also must possess psychological attributes such as the ability to compete under intense pressure, in which one mistake can cost you the title, and the discipline and work ethic to practice the same skills over and over again.

Men's rhythmic gymnastics

Rhythmic gymnastics is largely performed by women and girls, but a growing number of men participate in a few countries. Athletes are judged on some of the same physical abilities and skills as their female counterparts, such as hand/body-eye co-ordination, but tumbling, strength, power, and martial arts skills are the main focus, as opposed to flexibility and dance in women's rhythmic gymnastics. There are a growing number of participants, competing solo and on a team; it is most popular in Asia, especially in Japan where high school and university teams compete fiercely. As of 2002, there were 1000 men's rhythmic gymnasts in Japan.

Men's rhythmic gymnastics is related to both Men's artistic gymnastics and wushu martial arts. It emerged in Japan from stick gymnastics. Stick gymnastics has been taught and performed for many years with the aim of improving physical strength and health.

The technical rules for the Japanese version of men's rhythmic gymnastics came around 1970s. For individuals, only four types of apparatus are used: the double rings, the stick, the rope, and the clubs. Groups do not use any apparatus. The Japanese version includes tumbling performed on a spring floor. Points are awarded based a 10-point scale that measures the level of difficulty of the tumbling and apparatus handling.

On November 27–29, 2003, Japan hosted the Men's RG World Championship. This first championship drew five countries from two continents: Japan, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, and the United States. The 2005 World Championship included Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, and USA. Men's RG is not currently recognized by the FIG.

In popular culture

Gymnastics commemorative coin
  • In the manga and anime "Kamikaze Kaitō Jeanne", the main character - Maron Kusakabe - and her friend Miyako are rhythmic gymnasts.
  • In the show Lizzie McGuire, the first season episode "I've Got Rhythmic", features the main character becoming a rhythmic gymnast in an attempt to find her calling. At the end of the story, though she is gifted as a rhythmic athlete, she decides she no longer wants to continue in the sport.
  • In the show Grey's Anatomy a patient performs rhythmic gymnastics as her talent in a pageant.
  • Gymnastics events have been selected as a main motif in numerous collectors' coins. One of the recent samples is the €10 Greek Gymnastics commemorative coin, minted in 2003 to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics. The obverse of the coin represents a young woman holding a ribbon, executing a graceful movement, while in the background, two female athletes from antiquity execute a series of acrobatic interactions. The scene was taken from a terra cotta in Southern Italy.

See also


  1. ^ [1] FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Apparatus Programme - Olympic Cycles 2009–2016

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • rhythmic gymnastics — noun A discipline of gymnastics where the gymnast manipulates one of five apparatuses (ribbon, ball, rope, clubs, hoop) in a rhythmic manner …   Wiktionary

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