Rhythmic gymnastics

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Rhythmic gymnasts from Greece in the 2000 Sydney Olympics

Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which single competitors or groups of two or more manipulate five types of apparatus: Ball, Clubs, Hoop, Ribbon, and Rope. It combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance, and apparatus manipulation. The victor is the participant who earns the most points, as awarded by a panel of judges, for leaps, balances, pivots, flexibility, apparatus handling and artistic effect.

The sport's governing body, the FIG (Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique), changed the Code of Points in 2001, 2003 and 2005 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 and in 2005 was changed to 20. There are three values adding up to be the final points - technical, artistic and execution.

International competitions are split between Juniors, girls under 16; and Seniors, for girls 16 and over. Gymnasts typically start training at a very young age and those at their peak are typically in their late teens or early twenties. The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, and Grand-Prix Tournaments.

Rhythmic gymnastics is largely a sport for women and girls, but a growing number of men participate. The Japanese's version of Men's rhythmic gymnastics includes tumbling and is 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. Individuals compete in four types of apparatus: rope, stick, double rings and clubs. Groups do not use any apparatus. Japan hosted the first men's world championships in 2003, drawing teams from Canada, Korea, Malaysia, and the United States.


[edit] History

Rhythmic gymnastics grew out of the 19th-century Swedish system of free exercise developed by Peter Henry Ling, who promoted "aesthetic gymnastics," in which students expressed their feelings and emotions through bodily movement. This idea was extended by Catherine E. Beecher, who founded the Western Female Institute in Ohio, USA, 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, Emil 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, Ernest Idla of Estonia established a degree of difficulty for each movement.

Rhythmic gymnastics as a sport began in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. It was there that for the first time, the spirit of sports was combined with the sensuous art of classical ballet. (To Isadora Duncan, we credit the famous rebellion against the dogma of classical ballet and the shift toward the creation of a new discipline that would blend art and sport.)

The FIG 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 gymnasts took place in 1963 in Budapest, Hungary. 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. The Canadian Lori Fung was the first rhythmic gymnast to earn an Olympic gold medal.

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World Gymnastics Championships
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Rhythmic gymnastics

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