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Rhythmic Gymnastics

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Rhythmic Gymnastics

Yekaterina Serebrianskaya performing a clubs routine

© 2008 Steve Lange

In rhythmic gymnastics the athletes perform with equipment instead of on equipment. Gymnasts perform jumps, tosses, leaps and other moves with different types of apparatus, and are judged much more on their grace, dance ability, and coordination than their power or tumbling prowess.


History of Rhythmic Gymnastics

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) officially recognized rhythmic gymnastics in 1962, and held the first World Championships for rhythmics in 1963 in Budapest, Hungary. Rhythmic gymnastics was added as an Olympic sport in 1984, and competition was held in the individual all-around. In 1996, group competition was added.


The 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 1st of their 16th year. (For example, a gymnast born Dec. 31, 1996 was age eligible for the 2012 Olympics).

In some countries, most notably Japan, males are beginning to participate in rhythmic gymnastics. In this hybrid form of gymnastics, the athletes also perform tumbling and martial arts skills.


Athletic Requirements

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 and the discipline and work ethic to practice the same skills over and over again.


Rhythmic Gymnastics Apparatus

Rhythmic gymnasts compete with five different types of apparatus: rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. Floor exercise is also an event in the lower levels of competition.
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