Rhythmic gymnastics

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Group rhythmic gymnasts from Greece in Sydney 2000

Rhythmic gymnastics is an activity in which individuals or teams of 5 manipulate one or two pieces of apparatus: clubs, hoop, ball, ribbon, rope and Free (no apparatus). An individual athlete only manipulates 1 apparatus at a time. When multiple gymnasts are performing a routine together a maximum of two types of apparatus may be distributed through the group. An athlete can exchange apparatus with a team member at any time through the routine. Therefore, an athlete can manipulate up to two different pieces of apparatus through the duration of the routine. Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation. The victor is the participant who earns the most points, determined by a panel of judges, for leaps, balances, pirouettes (pivots), apparatus handling, and execution. The choreography must cover the entire floor and contain a balance of jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.

The sport is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition. The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships, World Cup and Grand-Prix Series.

History[edit]

2 time Olympic Champion Evgenia Kanaeva (2008 Beijing and 2012 London)

Rhythmic gymnastics grew out of the ideas of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), François Delsarte (1811–1871), and Rudolf Bode (1881–1970), who all believed in movement expression, where one used dance to express oneself and exercise various body parts. Peter Henry Ling further developed this idea in his 19th-century Swedish system of free exercise, which promoted "aesthetic gymnastics", in which students expressed their feelings and emotions through bodily movement. This idea was extended by Catharine Beecher, who founded the Western Female Institute in Ohio, United States, 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, Émile Jaques-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, Ernst Idla of Estonia established a degree of difficulty for each movement. In 1929, Hinrich Medau founded The Medau School in Berlin to train gymnasts in "modern gymnastics", and to develop the use of the apparatus.

Competitive rhythmic gymnastics began in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. The FIG formally 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 rhythmic gymnasts was held in 1963 in Budapest. 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 by the Soviet Union. Canadian Lori Fung was the first rhythmic gymnast to earn an Olympic gold medal. The Group competition was added to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Spanish group won the first gold medal of the new competition with a team formed by Estela Giménez, Marta Baldó, Nuria Cabanillas, Lorena Guréndez, Estíbaliz Martínez and Tania Lamarca.

The gymnast[edit]

(L-R) Alina Kabaeva (bronze), Yulia Barsukova (gold) and Yulia Raskina (silver) at 2000 Sydney Olympics

Olympic rhythmic gymnastics is only for 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 1 of their 16th year (For example, a gymnast born December 31, 2000 would be age eligible for the 2016 Olympics). Gymnasts in Russia and Europe typically start training at a very young age and those at their peak were typically in their late teens (15–19) or early twenties but since 2004 it is common to see gymnasts achieving their peak after reaching their twenties, some gymnasts are highly competitive in their early twenty or late twenties for example were or are Yulia Barsukova, Sylvia Miteva, Almudena Cid, Liubov Charkashyna, Aliya Yussupova, Aliya Garayeva, Delphine Ledoux, Anna Bessonova, Evgenia Kanaeva.[citation needed]

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, in which one mistake can cost them the title, and the discipline and work ethic to practice the same skills over and over again.

Apparatus[edit]

The FIG selects which apparatus will be used in competitions; only four out of the five possible apparatuses are sanctioned. Up to 2010, the clubs were not used at the Senior level. For 2011 rope will be dropped for senior national individual and group competition. In 2011, it will be dropped for junior national individual competition but return again in 2015. Rope appears in Junior National group competition in 2011-2012.[1]

Ball
It is made of either rubber or synthetic material (pliable plastic) provided it possesses the same elasticity as rubber. It is from 18 to 20 cm in diameter and must have a minimum weight of 400g. The ball can be of any colour. The ball should rest in the gymnast's hand and not rest against the wrist or be able to be grasped. Fundamental elements of a ball routine include throwing, bouncing or rolling. The gymnast must use both hands and work on the whole floor area whilst showing continuous flowing movement. The ball is to emphasize the gymnasts flowing lines and body difficulty.
Hoop
A hoop is an apparatus in rhythmic gymnastics and may be made of plastic or wood, provided that it retains its shape during the routine. The interior diameter is from 51 to 90 cm, and the hoop must weigh a minimum of 300g. The hoop may be of a natural colour or be partially or fully covered by one or several colours, and it may be covered with adhesive tape either of the same or different colour as the hoop. Fundamental requirements of a hoop routine include rotation around the hand or body and rolling, as well as swings, circles, throws, and passes through and over the hoop. The routines in hoop involves mastery in both apparatus handling and body difficulty like leaps, jumps and pivots.
Ribbon
It is made of satin or another similar material cloth of any colour, it may be multi-coloured and have designs on it. The ribbon itself must be at least 35g (1 oz), 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4") in width and have a minimum length of 6m (20') for seniors and 5m (16.25') for juniors. The ribbon must be in one piece. The end that is attached to the stick is doubled for a maximum length of 1m (3'). This is stitched down both sides. At the top, a very thin reinforcement or rows of machine stitching for a maximum length of 5 cm is authorized. This extremity may end in a strap, or have an eyelet (a small hole, edged with buttonhole stitch or a metal circle), to permit attaching the ribbon. The ribbon is fixed to the stick by means of a supple attachment such as thread, nylon cord, or a series of articulated rings. The attachment has a maximum length of 7 cm (2.8"), not counting the strap or metal ring at the end of the stick where it will be fastened. Compulsory elements for the ribbon include flicks, circles, snakes and spirals, and throws. It requires a high degree of co-ordination to form the spirals and circles as any knots which may accidentally form in the ribbon are penalised. During a ribbon routine, large, smooth and flowing movements are looked for.
Clubs
Multi-piece clubs are the most popular clubs. The club is built along an internal rod, providing a base on which a handle made of polyolefin plastic is wrapped, providing an airspace between it and the internal rod. This airspace provides flex, cushioning impact, making the club softer on the hands. Foam ends and knobs further cushion the club. Multi-piece clubs are made in both a thin European style or larger bodied American style and in various lengths, generally ranging from 19 to 21 inches (480 to 530 mm). The handles and bodies are typically wrapped with decorative plastics and tapes. The skills involved are apparatus mastery and body elements, Clubs are thrown from alternate hands; each passes underneath the other clubs and is caught in the opposite hand to the one from which it was thrown. At its simplest, each club rotates once per throw, the handle moving down and away from the throwing hand at first. However, double and triple spins are frequently performed, allowing the club to be thrown higher for more advanced patterns and to allow tricks such as 360s to be performed underneath.
Rope
It may be made of hemp or a synthetic material which retains the qualities of lightness and suppleness. Its length is in proportion to the size of the gymnast. When the middle of the rope is held down by the feet, both ends should reach the gymnasts' armpits. One or two knots at each end are for keeping hold of the rope while doing the routine. At the ends (to the exclusion of all other parts of the rope) an anti-slip material, either coloured or neutral may cover a maximum of 10 cm (3.94 in). The rope must be coloured, either all or partially. It may be either of a uniform diameter or be progressively thicker in the center provided that this thickening is of the same material as the rope. The fundamental requirements of a rope routine include leaps and skipping. Other elements include swings, throws, circles, rotations and figures of eight. In 2011, the FIG decided to nullify the use of rope in rhythmic gymnastic competitions.

Format of competition[edit]

Competition levels[edit]

International competitions are split between Juniors, under sixteen by their year of birth; and Seniors, for women sixteen and over again by their year of birth.

Scoring and the Code of Points[edit]

The governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), changed the Code of Points in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2008 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, a 20-point scale in 2005, in 2008 was changed back to 30 scale, the 20-point scale was returned under the new Code of Points in 2013. Since the new Code of Points in 2013, there are two values adding up to be the final points— difficulty and execution.

Recent issues in the judging of elite-level qualifying tests have been reported by the New York Times.[2]

Major competitions[edit]

The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships, World Cup and Grand-Prix Series.

Dominant teams and nations[edit]

Rhythmic gymnastics is mostly dominated by Eastern European countries.

Soviet Union[edit]

Soviet Union: Before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Soviet rhythmic gymnasts were engaged in a fierce competition with Bulgaria. The first World Championships held in 1963 in Budapest, Hungary was won by Soviet gymnast Ludmila Savinkova and in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark the first Group championships was also won by the USSR. Other Soviet World Champions included Galina Shugurova, Elena Karpuchina, Irina Deriugina. Marina Lobatch became the first Soviet to win the Olympic Games in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 1991, The Unified Team was formed saw a competition of the two Soviet/Ukrainian gymnasts Olexandra Tymoshenko and Oxana Skaldina at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Russia[edit]

Russia: After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has been the dominant country in rhythmic gymnastics since the start of the late 1990s saw the rise of stars like Yanina Batyrchina, Amina Zaripova and Alina Kabaeva. Oxana Kostina became Russia's first World Champion as an independent country. In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Yulia Barsukova became the first Russian to win the Olympic gold medal, the feat was repeated 4 years later in the 2004 Athens Olympics was also won by another Russian, Alina Kabaeva. Evgenia Kanaeva became the first individual rhythmic gymnast to win two gold medals in the Olympic Games at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. Other notable gymnasts include Natalia Lavrova, Irina Tchachina, Natalia Lipkovskaya, Zarina Gizikova, Laysan Utiasheva, Vera Sessina, Olga Kapranova, Daria Dmitrieva, Ksenia Dudkina, Anastasia Bliznyuk, Yelena Posevina, Anna Gavrilenko, Daria Shkurikhina, Karolina Sevastyanova, Uliana Donskova, Alexandra Merkulova, Anastasia Nazarenko, Daria Kondakova, Yana Kudryavtseva, Daria Svatkovskaya, Aleksandra Soldatova, Margarita Mamun, Dina Averina, Arina Averina and Maria Titova. The Russian Group has won four of the five Group exercises held in the Olympics since it was included in the Olympic Games back in 1996 Summer Olympics.

Ukraine[edit]

Ukraine: even as part of the USSR, a number of soviet gymnasts were trained in Ukraine or with Ukrainian origin including the first World Champion Ludmila Savinkova and Liubov Sereda. The mother and daughter tandem of Albina and Irina Deriugina played an important role in the success of RG in the country, raising stars like Olexandra Tymoshenko and Oxana Skaldina. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continued its success in rhythmic gymnastic with Ekaterina Serebrianskaya winning the Olympic gold the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Other notable gymnasts include Anna Bessonova (two-time Olympic bronze medalist), Ganna Rizatdinova, Tamara Yerofeeva, Olena Vitrychenko, Alina Maksymenko, Anastasia Mulmina, Viktoria Mazur and Eleonora Romanova.

Belarus[edit]

Belarus: the country has had success in both individual and group rhythmic gymnastics after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is worth noting that the first Soviet Olympic gold medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Marina Lobatch, was a Belarusian. Since the late 1990s, Belarus has had continued success in the Olympics Games and have won two individual silver medals and a bronze respectively with Yulia Raskina, Inna Zhukova and Liubov Charkashyna. other notable gymnasts include Melitina Staniouta, Aliaksandra Narkevich, Arina Charopa, Katsiaryna Halkina and Marina Kadobina.The Belarusian Group has won two silver medal in the Olympics.

Bulgaria[edit]

Bulgaria: since the start of the inception of rhythmic gymnastics as a World Championship event, Bulgaria was in competition with the USSR, throughout the 1960s, Bulgaria has won 9 individual all-around World Titles, the 1980s marked the height of Bulgarian success known as the Golden Girls of Bulgaria, with gymnasts Iliana Raeva, Anelia Ralenkova, Lilia Ignatova, Bianka Panova, Adriana Dunavska, Diliana Gueorguieva, Elizabeth Koleva dominating the World Championships. The early 90s were marked by the full domination of Maria Petrova- 3 times World champion and 3 times European champion. The early 2000s marked the decline of individual RG of Bulgaria though with still a few notable gymnasts like Simona Peycheva and Sylvia Miteva. Bulgaria is currently more engaged in Group rhythmic gymnastics.

Azerbaijan[edit]

Azerbaijan: Is now amongst the top country for individual and group Rhythmic gymnastics. The development of the sport particularly boosted after Mehriban Aliyeva become President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation in 2002.[3] Notable rhythmic gymnasts include 2011 World all-around bronze medalist Aliya Garayeva, Anna Gurbanova, Dinara Gimatova, Zeynab Javadli, Marina Durunda, Lala Yusifova and Zhala Piriyeva. Azerbaijan hosted big competitions like 2005 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, 2007 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships, 2009 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships, 2014 Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships, 2019 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.

Spain[edit]

Spain: some notable success in rhythmic gymnastics for Spain include Carolina Pascual, the silver medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Carmen Acedo who won gold medal in clubs competition in World Championships on 1993, Almudena Cid, a four time Olympian (1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008) and Carolina Rodriguez. Spain is more engaged in Group rhythmic gymnastics and the Spanish group became the first to win the Olympic gold in Group rhythmic gymnastics since it was added in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Spanish group was formed by Estela Giménez, Marta Baldó, Nuria Cabanillas, Lorena Guréndez, Estíbaliz Martínez and Tania Lamarca.

Italy[edit]

Italy: like Spain, Italy is more engaged in Group rhythmic gymnastics, the Italian group are four time Group All-around World Champions and have won two medals ( a silver and a bronze ) at the Olympic Games.

Israel[edit]

Israel is a rising nation in rhythmic gymnastics, the sport began its success in the mid 2000s with notable gymnasts including Irina Risenzon, Neta Rivkin who have placed in Top 10 in the Olympic Games finals. Other notable gymnasts include Victoria Veinberg Filanovsky, Linoy Ashram and Veronika Vitenberg. The Israeli Group has also began to be amongst the leading group rhythmic gymnasts in the World Cup and World championship competitions.

Other Post-Soviet Republics[edit]

Other Post-Soviet Republics especially in Central Asia have had considerable success in rhythmic gymnastics including in Kazakhstan with Aliya Yussupova who finished as high as 4th at the Olympic Games and Anna Alyabyeva. In Uzbekistan, successful rhythmic gymnasts are Ulyana Trofimova, Djamila Rakhmatova, Elizaveta Nazarenkova and Valeriya Davidova.

Other nations[edit]

Greece is primarily oriented towards Group exercises but has also established in individuals notably with gymnast Varvara Filiou. France have had considerable success in individual rhythmic gymnastics with Eva Serrano placing 5th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, other French gymnasts include Delphine Ledoux and Kseniya Moustafaeva. East Asia recently began its following and interest in the sport having gymnast in South Korea with Son Yeon-Jae, Japan with Kaho Minagawa and in China with Deng Senyue doing well against the traditional rhythmic gymnastics powerhouse countries. Although it has not gained as much following compared to its Artistic Gymnastics counterpart, In the North American and South American Hemisphere it is also a rising sport in the USA, Brazil and Canada with some notable rhythmic gymnasts include Mary Sanders, Alexandra Orlando and Patricia Bezzoubenko.

Men's rhythmic gymnastics[edit]

Rhythmic gymnastics is largely performed by women and girls, but a growing number of men participate in a few countries.[4] Athletes are judged on some of the same physical abilities and skills as their female counterparts, such as hand/body-eye co-ordination, but tumbling, strength, power, and martial arts skills are the main focus, as opposed to flexibility and dance in women's rhythmic gymnastics. There are a growing number of participants, competing alone and on a team; it is most popular in Asia, especially in Japan where high school and university teams compete fiercely. As of 2002, there were 1000 men's rhythmic gymnasts in Japan.

Men's rhythmic gymnastics is related to both Men's artistic gymnastics and wushu martial arts. It emerged in Japan from stick gymnastics. Stick gymnastics has been taught and performed for many years with the aim of improving physical strength and health.

The technical rules for the Japanese version of men's rhythmic gymnastics came around the 1970s. For individuals, only four types of apparatus are used: the double rings, the stick, the rope, and the clubs. Groups do not use any apparatus. The Japanese version includes tumbling 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.

On November 27–29, 2003, Japan hosted the Men's RG World Championship. This first championship drew five countries from two continents: Japan, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, and the United States. The 2005 World Championship included Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, and USA. Men's RG is not currently recognized by the FIG.

There are, particularly in Europe, some male rhythmic gymnasts who train and perform in much the same way as their female counterparts. They are, however, not eligible to participate in any major competition. Examples include Rubén Orihuela (Spain), Ismael Del Valle (Spain), Jose Sanchez Diaz (Spain), and Thomas Gandon (France).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Apparatus Programme - Olympic Cycles 2009–2016[dead link]
  2. ^ Pilon, Mary (16 July 2013). "Judges of a Graceful Sport, Caught in a Clumsy Cheating Scandal". New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2013. "The suspected cheating occurred late last year in testing rooms across Europe, where test takers looked to qualify for elite competition like the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The International Gymnastics Federation, known as F.I.G., spent months investigating the episode. Much of their findings, spanning hundreds of pages, were obtained by The New York Times." 
  3. ^ Development of gymnastics in Azerbaijan
  4. ^ "Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique : About Rhythmic". Retrieved 18 November 2012. "Women only compete in Rhythmic Gymnastics, although in Japan and some other countries, men also practice the sport." 

External links[edit]