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Going for the Gymnastic Gold

Here is some news about Gymnastics that I bet you didn’t know. People have competed in gymnastic sports for over 4000 years. The term gymnastics does not come from gymnasium as many people think. The word gymnastics actually is from “gymnos” which is a Greek word that means naked, which is how the first Olympian athletes competed.

The ancient civilizations may not have had modern vaults thousands of years ago but that did not stop the men and women in Greece from creating the competition of bull jumping! This may have been the first original “Extreme Sport”.

Now this is a sport that we would all watch because the athletes had to run toward a bull as it charged. (I personally believe that the best way to run… is Away From the Bull, but perhaps this is why I am not a gymnast.) When the person was directly in front of the bull he would grab the horns and jump, or somersault, over the back of the bull and try really hard to “stick the landing”.

Jumping bulls seems like a great way to prepare people for sprints or hurdles. Just imagine how motivated hurdlers would become if charging, angry bulls replaced those harmless little obstacles that they presently have to clear. We would have new records being broken on a daily basis.

History books let us know that there were ancient civilizations that used the sport of gymnastics to make their soldiers stronger and more flexible. I am sure that jumping over bulls would have made them faster. 

It was in the 19th century that the sport started to include the use of rings, mats, and bars. Germany and Sweden were the two countries that first had competitions that involved these pieces of equipment. Today the sport of gymnastics consists of many activities that involve body strength, coordination, flexibility and precision.

Gymnastics became a part of the Olympics in 1896 and has been a part of these Games ever since. Almost 25 years in 1984 rhythmic gymnastics appeared in the Olympics. In this type of sport the athletes combine dance, balls, ropes, ribbons and hoops with their gymnastic moves.

There are a total of 8 events for gymnasts in the Olympics:

Events for both men and women

• Floor exercise
• Vault

Events for men only

• Rings
• Parallel Bars
• Horizontal Bars
• Pommel Horse

Events for women only

• Balance Beam
• Uneven Bars

Now, does that make you want to stretch and bend?

This is an original news article © The Kids Window

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