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Gymnastics and Olympic Games - What Other People Are Not Telling You About This Sport

Paul Kramer

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The movement foundation of rhythmic gymnastics originated as long ago as the early 1900s in Germany and France, but the specific rules and conditions which now govern the sport did not come into being until 1962.

It was then that the International Gymnastics Federation gave official recognition to the various apparatus exercises, the rope, the hoop and the ball, and set up the first World Championships which were held in 1963.

Not until some times later were the clubs and the ribbons events included. Since 1963, the World Championships have been held every alternate year, this being the major competition in the international calendar for rhythmic gymnastics.

Gradually, other competitions have been introduced, European Championships were inaugurated in 1978, and then a Four Continents Championship, but the ultimate recognition for the sport was its inclusion in the Olympic Games for the first time in Los Angeles 1984.

Current rules state that no more than two gymnasts per country are eligible for the Olympics, and that qualification is necessary before entry into the competition is allowed. The qualifying competition is a sudden death affair, just one chance in the World Championships preceding the Olympic Games (usually about one year advance), when gymnasts who reach the required standard qualify for a place to represent their country.

The required standard is seemingly not quite established yet, since for Los Angeles the top fifty gymnasts were eligible for qualification, while the number was increased to fifty six for the Games at Seoul.

On neither occasion was the decision made until after the World Championships had been held. The group exercise has not found its way into the Olympics. With the promotion of the Olympic champion ideal, it is less likely that a team event will establish itself.

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