History of the Sport of Gymnastics


Gymanstics, as an activity sport, has been around for over 2000 years but as an competitive sport it is a little more than 100 years old. Mass and individual exhibitions were conducted by various clubs and ethnic groups such as the Turvereins and Sok ols.

While it was slow-growing in the club area, it was fast-growing sport in the Turvereins and Sokols. In 1830s, the sport of gymnastics was introduced to United States and its school systems by such immigrants as Charles Beck, Charles Follen and Franci s Lieber.

In 1881 the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) was formed, later was renamed to Bureau of the European Gymnastics Federation. This organization pioneered the international competition. The Amature Athletic Union (AAU) was formed in United Sta tes in 1883. Along with other amature spotts in United States, this organization took over the control of the gymnastics in U.S. Various "championships" started to develop by various clubs and organizations at about the same time during 1880s.

The first large-scale competition was the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece. There Germany have been the dominant team by almost sweeping every medal. Five countries have participapted in this event. Men's competitions included horizontal bar, parall el bars, pommel horse, rings, and vault.

The first international event following 1896 Olympics was hel in 1903 in Antwerp, Belgium. There competed gymnasts from such places as Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. This event is now considered the first World Championship. The f irst men's team competition was added and held in 1904 Olympics at St. Louis.

By ninth World Championship in 1930 at Luxembourg, the gymnastic competition included track and field events such as pole vault, broad jump, shot put, rope climb, and 100-meter dash. Following that, track and field events started to disappear from gy mnastics events, such as World Championships. They fully disappeared from the sport of gymnastics by 1954 World Championships.

During 1924 Olympics in France marked the begining of what they are today. In gymnastics, men started to compete for individual Olympic titles in each gymnastic event. The first women's gymnastic team debuted during the 1928 Olympics. The first wom en's event during 1928 Olympics was the team combined exercise, where it was dominated by Netherlands. The first U.S. women's gymnastic team competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

In 1962, rhythmic gymnastics were recognized as a sport by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). In 1963 in Budapest, Hungary, the first Rhythmic World Championship took place. It included 28 athlets from 10 countries. In 1973, the United States joined the sport of rhythmic gymnastics during the Rhythmic World Championships. During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the rhythmic individual all-around competition was held for the first time. At the Centenial Olympics this year in Atlanta, the rhythmic group event will be a medal-sport for the first time.

In 1970, the United States Gymnastics Federartion, now formally known as USA Gymnastics, was organized and became the govering body on this sport in the U.S. It is still exist today.

Source: USA Gymnastics Online