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Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which individuals or groups of five manipulate one or two pieces of apparatus: rope, hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon and freehand (no apparatus). 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 (a certain number is required depending on the gymnast's level) 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.
- 1 History
- 2 The gymnast
- 3 Apparatus
- 4 Format
- 5 Major competitions
- 6 Dominant teams and nations
- 7 Men's rhythmic gymnastics
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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 body 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 dance 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 team 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.
Olympic rhythmic gymnastics is only for female participants (although Japan has begun developing programs in which men can compete. The men's program has yet to be formally recognized by the FIG, however, and men cannot compete in the Olympics as a rhythmic gymnast). Gymnasts 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 are 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 who were or are highly competitive in their early twenty or late twenties are Yulia Barsukova, Sylvia Miteva, Almudena Cid, Liubov Charkashyna, Aliya Yussupova, Aliya Garayeva, Ganna Rizatdinova, Melitina Staniouta, Delphine Ledoux, Anna Bessonova, Evgenia Kanaeva and Carolina Rodriguez. The latter and her fellow countrywoman Almudena Cid are among the oldest rhythmic gymnasts ever.
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.
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 was dropped for senior national individual and group competition. In 2011, it was to be dropped for junior national individual competition but returned again in 2015. Rope appeared in junior national group competition in 2011–2012. In 2017, rope appeared in senior group competition.
An individual athlete only manipulates one 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.
- 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 10.0 cm (3.9 in). The rope must be colored, 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.
- A hoop 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 color or be partially or fully covered by one or several colors, and it may be covered with adhesive tape either of the same or different color 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.
- 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 color. 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.
- 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 millimetres). 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 (channes) to be performed underneath.
- It is made of satin or another similar material cloth of any color, it may be multi-colored and have designs on it. The ribbon itself must be at least 35 g (1.2 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 penalized. During a ribbon routine, large, smooth and flowing movements are looked for. The ribbon may not stop moving or else points are taken off.
This sport can be practiced individually or in sets. As for the sets, official competitions are currently composed of five-member teams. Gymnasts may have the same apparatus for all five or three with one and two with a different apparatus (in this case the exercise is called "mixed"). Originally six gymnasts composed a group, although around the 1980s this could be even eight. The duration of a group exercise should be two and a half minutes, one minute more than the individual one, which is one minute and a half.
In rhythmic gymnastics competitions exercises are evaluated by the following parameters which are reviewed every four years, the system defining the FIG Code of Points.
Current score code
In the current Code of Points (2017-2020), the final score of a routine is the sum of the difficulty score and execution score. Penalties incurred will also be deducted from the final score. The difficulty score is open-ended with no maximum score, while the execution score has a starting value of 10 points. There are also penalties, which are realized by subtracting points from the final note for certain specified mistakes made by the gymnast.
Difficulty consists of body difficulties (jumps, balances and rotations), dance step combinations, dynamic elements with rotation (commonly known as risks), and apparatus difficulties. The difficulty score is evaluated during the routine without a pre-made difficulty sheet, unlike with previous Codes. Each difficulty component has an assigned value, which accumulate throughout the routine, resulting in the final difficulty score.
Execution is the degree to which the gymnast performs with aesthetic and technical perfection. This includes having harmony with the music and having masterful technique with the apparatus. The execution score is composed of artistic faults and technical faults. In the first, the unity of the composition, exercise music, body language and the variety in the use of space, among others are valued; on the other hand, the technical component and technical aspects of body movements, technique based system, equality of work left / right hand during exercise, etc. are valued. Errors regarding the perfect model of conduct accumulate and are assigned specific penalty values, which ultimately are subtracted from the starting value (an execution score of 10 represents a perfect execution equal to the model, without any error).
Penalties are taken by the time, line, and coordinator judges. Possible penalties include:
- The gymnast leaving the floor area.
- The apparatus leaving the floor area.
- The exercise being longer or shorter than the acceptable length of time (1'15" to 1'30" is the required length for individual, and 2'15" to 2'30" is the required length for group).
- Failure to end the exercise at the exact moment the accompanying music ends.
- Music not conforming to the regulations.
- Dress of the gymnast not conforming to the regulations.
- Communication with the coach during the execution of the exercise.
- Verbal communication between group gymnasts during the exercise.
Evolution of the Code of Points
In the decades of the 60s and 70s, the weight of the note fell most heavily on the artistic side, with little presence of difficulties. In the 80s new difficulty elements were introduced to give greater prominence to the flexibility and risk releases, and to encourage originality with emerging new devices. Traditionally, until 2000, for the final of an exercise notes composition and performance, each of a maximum of 10 points in joint mode (20 in total) they were added, and of five in individual mode (10 in total).
In the late 90s, there was an appearance of gymnasts whose exercise flexibility is used as a main element (the Russian Yana Batyrchina or Alina Kabáyeba for example), which was one of the motivations for a major change in the Code of 2001, which doubled the number of required elements of difficulty (although later would be slightly recessed) and reduced the value of the artistic part. The final mark then became an exercise obtained by adding notes difficulty, artistic and execution, each with a maximum value of 10 points, so the final score would be a maximum of 30 points (except the Olympic cycle 2005 – 2008, where the final note would be a maximum of 20 points to join the average grade of difficulty and the artistic execution) .8. Here are each of the three notes under the Code as they were defined in the Olympic cycle 2005 – 2008:
The difficulty score would be based on the technical merit of the assembly. This is divided into: physical difficulty and apparatus difficulty. The body difficulties were divided into four groups: jumps, flexibilities and waves, twists and balances. The mandatory use of each, depend on the device that you were using. Note apparatus difficulty would consider expertise with or without release, risk, pre-acrobatic elements and the originality of the apparatus.
The artistic note is based, as the name suggests, on the artistic value of the assembly. The use of music, choreography used, the utilization of all practicable, the variety of movements of the gymnast and the variety of use of the device are taken into account.
The note value includes the correct execution in all elements musically, body art and technique with the appliance. The performance assessment is based on a perfect model of realization of an element or movement which the gymnast or gymnasts should develop. Errors from the model and adding accumulate, which eventually subtracted from the initial value.
Three notes were changed substantially in 2001; the Code of 2013 is something closer to the traditional one.
As of 2018, according to the technical regulations defined by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the only official competitions in which rhythmic gymnastics events are contested globally are: 1) the World Championships; 2) the stages of the World Cup Series (including the defunct World Cup Final); 3) the World Games; and 4) the Olympic Games (as well as the Youth Olympic Games). The nations which have earned at least one medal in official FIG competitions are:
- Azerbaijan 
- Belarus 
- Brazil 
- Bulgaria 
- Canada 
- China 
- Czechoslovakia 
- East Germany 
- Egypt 
- Estonia 
- Finland 
- France 
- Georgia 
- Germany 
- Greece 
- Hungary 
- Israel 
- Italy 
- Japan 
- Kazakhstan 
- North Korea 
- Poland 
- Romania 
- Russia 
- South Korea 
- Soviet Union 
- Spain 
- Switzerland 
- Ukraine 
- United States 
- Uzbekistan 
- West Germany 
Defunct competitions previously organized and promoted by FIG include the Test Events for the Olympic Games, and the Four Continents Gymnastics Championships (reserved for senior athletes from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania). Major rhythmic gymnastics tournaments not officially organized by FIG include the European Championships (as well as its junior division), the European Games, the Grand-Prix series and the competitions at the Summer Universiade. Major defunct championships or competitions in which rhythmic gymnastics events were held include the European Cup Final, the European Team Gymnastics Championships, and the Goodwill Games. Also, continental championships are held in the Americas and Asia, as well regional multi-sport events in which rhythmic gymnastics is part of the program, such as the Pan American Games and the Asian Games.
Dominant teams and nations
Rhythmic gymnastics has been dominated by Eastern European countries, especially the Soviet Union (Post-Soviet Republics of today) and Bulgaria. The two countries were in rivalry with each other before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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 AA Champions in individuals included Elena Karpuchina, Galina Shugurova and 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. Other notable Soviet gymnasts include: Tatiana Kravtchenko, Liubov Sereda, Alfia Nazmutdinova, Natalia Krachinnekova, Irina Devina, Elena Tomas, Irina Gabashvili, Inessa Lisovskaya, Dalia Kutkaitė, Venera Zaripova, Galina Beloglazova, Anna Kotchneva and Tatiana Druchinina.
Bulgaria: Since the start of the inception of rhythmic gymnastics as a World Championship event, Bulgaria was in competition with the USSR, during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Bulgaria has won 10 individual World Titles with its star gymnasts Maria Gigova- 3 time World AA Champion, Neshka Robeva and Kristina Guiourova, the 1980s marked the height of Bulgarian success known as the Golden Girls of Bulgaria, with gymnasts Iliana Raeva, Anelia Ralenkova, Lilia Ignatova, Diliana Gueorguieva, Bianka Panova, Adriana Dunavska, Elizabeth Koleva dominating the World Championships. Bianka Panova became the first rhythmic gymnast to make a clean sweep of all five individual events at a World Championship by attaining full marks. She also became the first rhythmic gymnast to get onto the Guinness Book of Records by her perfect performance of full 10 marks in all her routines (total of 8) at a World Championship and received the trophy personally from the President of the International Olympic Committee at that time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The early 1990s were marked by the full domination of Maria Petrova- 3 time World AA Champion and 3 time European AA 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 with successful gymnasts like: Zhaneta Ilieva, Eleonora Kezhova, Kristina Rangelova, Zornitsa Marinova, Vladislava Tancheva, Hristiana Todorova, Tsvetelina Naydenova, Tsvetelina Stoyanova, Lubomira Kazanova, Reneta Kamberova and Mihaela Maevska. Bulgaria's new generation of talents in individual gymnastics include: Neviana Vladinova, Katrin Taseva, Boryana Kaleyn, Petya Borisova, and Erika Zafirova. Boyanka Angelova, who gained popularity among the public, retired early due to injuries.
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 Amina Zaripova, Yanina Batyrchina 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. Alina Kabaeva, who had won bronze in Sydney, went on to win gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics. 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. Margarita Mamun continued the streak of individual gold medalists at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics while the competition favorite 3-times World champion Yana Kudryavtseva took silver. Other notable gymnasts include Natalia Lipkovskaya, Irina Tchachina, Natalia Lavrova, Zarina Gizikova, Laysan Utiasheva, Vera Sessina, Olga Kapranova, Yelena Posevina, Anna Gavrilenko, Margarita Aliychuk, Olga Belova, Daria Shkurikhina, Anastasia Maksimova, Tatiana Gorbunova, Uliana Donskova, Yana Lukonina, Anastasia Nazarenko, Anastasia Bliznyuk, Ksenia Dudkina, Karolina Sevastyanova, Olga Ilina, Daria Kondakova, Daria Dmitrieva, Alexandra Merkulova, Daria Svatkovskaya, Yana Kudryavtseva, Maria Titova, Maria Tolkacheva, Aleksandra Soldatova, Dina Averina, Arina Averina, Irina Annenkova, Diana Borisova, Iuliia Bravikova, Anastasiia Tatareva, Eleonora Romanova, Daria Dubova, Vera Biryukova, Sofya Skomorokh, Alina Ermolova, Ekaterina Selezneva, Daria Pridannikova, Lala Kramarenko, and Polina Shmatko. The Russian Group has won five of the six Group exercises held in the Olympics since it was included in the Olympic Games back in 1996 Summer Olympics.
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. Ukraine has won 1 gold and 3 bronze medals at the Olympic Games. If you include all Ukrainian gymnasts, then they have won 2 gold and 4 bronze medals. 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 gymnastics with Kateryna Serebrianska winning the Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Other notable gymnasts include Anna Bessonova (two-time Olympic bronze medalist), Ganna Rizatdinova (2016 Olympics bronze), Olena Vitrychenko (1996 Olympics bronze), Victoria Stadnik, Tamara Yerofeeva, Natalia Godunko, Alina Maksymenko, Olena Dmytrash, Viktoriia Mazur, Valeriia Gudym, Yevgeniya Gomon, Oleksandra Gridasova, Anastasiia Mulmina, Anastasiya Voznyak, Kateryna Lutsenko and Olena Diachenko.
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 Olympic Games and has won two silver and a bronze medals in individuals respectively with Yulia Raskina, Inna Zhukova and Liubov Charkashyna. Other notable gymnasts include Larissa Loukianenko, Ksenia Sankovich, Melitina Staniouta, Svetlana Rudalova, Aliaksandra Narkevich, Tatiana Ogrizko, Zinaida Lunina, Arina Charopa, Katsiaryna Halkina, Alina Tumilovich, Valeria Vatkina, Evgenia Pavlina, Maria Kadobina, Anastasia Ivankova, Hanna Bazhko, Elena Tkachenko, Elena Bolotina, Mariya Trubach, Julia Evchik, Alina Harnasko. The Belarusian Group has won two silver and a bronze medals in the Olympics.
Azerbaijan: Is now amongst the top country for Individual and Group rhythmic gymnastics. The development of the sport particularly boosted after Mehriban Aliyeva became the President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation in 2002. In 2007, Mariana Vasileva who was a former Bulgarian rhythmic gymnast and a coach in Levski club in Sofia came to Azerbaijan to coach Azerbaijani gymnasts. Since 2009, Vasileva has been appointed as head coach of the Azerbaijan Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation. Notable rhythmic gymnasts include 2011 World All-around bronze medalist Aliya Garayeva, Anna Gurbanova, Dinara Gimatova, Zeynab Javadli, Lala Yusifova, Marina Durunda, Zhala Piriyeva, Ayshan Bayramova and Zohra Aghamirova. 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: Spain has a great tradition in rhythmic gymnastics. 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, Rosabel Espinosa, 1991 European Junior All-around bronze medalist, Almudena Cid who is a four-time Olympian (1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008) and Carolina Rodriguez. Newer Spanish individual gymnasts include Polina Berezina and Sara Llana. 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 Marta Baldó, Nuria Cabanillas, Estela Giménez, Lorena Guréndez, Tania Lamarca and Estíbaliz Martínez.
Italy: Like Spain, Italy is more engaged in Group rhythmic gymnastics, the Italian Group is 4 time Group World AA Champion and has won two medals (a silver and a bronze) at the Olympic Games. Notable athletes include Samantha Ferrari who won a bronze medal in clubs at the 1991 World Championships, other notable individual gymnasts are Katia Pietrosanti, Susanna Marchesi, Julieta Cantaluppi, Federica Febbo, Veronica Bertolini, Alexandra Agiurgiuculese and Milena Baldassarri. Group gymnasts include Marta Pagnini, Elisa Santoni, Andreea Stefanescu, Romina Laurito, Anzhelika Savrayuk, Elisa Blanchi.
Israel: Is a rising nation in rhythmic gymnastics. Israeli head coach Irina Vigdorchik, who moved from Moscow to Israel in 1979, said rhythmic gymnastics had been brought to Israel by Russian immigrants in the early 1970s. The sport began its success in the 2000s with notable Israeli gymnasts including Irina Risenzon, Neta Rivkin who have placed in Top 10 in the Olympic Games finals. Other notable gymnasts include Katerina Pisetsky, Veronika Vitenberg, Rahel Vigdozchik, Victoria Veinberg Filanovsky, Linoy Ashram and Nicol Zelikman. The Israeli Group has also begun to be amongst the leading Group rhythmic gymnasts in the World Cup and World Championship competitions, and has won its first gold medal in the 2016 European Championship.
Other Post-Soviet Republics
Other Post-Soviet Republics especially in Central Asia have had considerable success in rhythmic gymnastics, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Notable Kazakhstani gymnasts include Aliya Yussupova who finished as high as 4th at the Olympic Games, as well as Anna Alyabyeva, Aliya Assymova and Sabina Ashirbayeva. In Uzbekistan, notable gymnasts include: Ulyana Trofimova, Djamila Rakhmatova, Elizaveta Nazarenkova, Anastasiya Serdyukova, Valeriya Davidova, Anora Davlyatova and Sabina Tashkenbaeva. In Georgia, Soviet rhythmic gymnast and 1979 World All-around bronze medalist Irina Gabashvili was of Georgian origin. Another notable Georgian is the dynamic Salome Pazhava, doing well in the Continental Games and World Championships.
Germany has had considerable success in the sport especially from the late 1960s to the early 1990s with World medalists Ute Lehmann, Carmen Rischer, Christiana Rosenberg, Bianca Dittrich and 1984 Olympic medalist Regina Weber, the 1990s had notable gymnasts: Magdalena Brzeska, Edita Schaufler and in the 2000s with Lisa Ingildeeva, Laura Jung, Jana Berezko-Marggrander, Noemi Peschel and Lea Tkaltschewitsch.
Czechoslovakia: the 1960s and 1970s marked the peak of Czechoslovak rhythmic gymnastics' success with World medalists Hana Machatová-Bogušovská, Hana Sitnianská-Mičechová, Zuzana Záveská, Iveta Havlíčková and Daniela Bošanská, other notable Czech gymnasts from 2000s are Dominika Červenková, Monika Míčková and Anna Šebková.
France has had considerable success in Individual rhythmic gymnastics with Eva Serrano placing 5th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, other French gymnasts include Delphine Ledoux, Kseniya Moustafaeva, Axelle Jovenin and Valérie Romenski. In 2017, a new group appeared and placed 9th at the 2017 World Championship.
East Asia recently began its following and interest in the sport having gymnasts in South Korea withShin Soo-ji ,Son Yeon-jae, kim chaewoon,Seo goeun Japan with Sakura Hayakawa, Kaho Minagawa, Sumire Kita and in China with Zhong Ling, Sun Dan, Shang Rong, Zhao Yating and 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 Western Hemisphere it is also a rising sport in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada with some notable rhythmic gymnasts including Mary Sanders, Alexandra Orlando, Cynthia Valdez, Angélica Kvieczynski, Julie Zetlin, Nastasya Generalova, Jasmine Kerber, Patricia Bezzoubenko, Laura Zeng, Evita Griskenas, Natália Gaudio.
Men's rhythmic gymnastics
Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics (Men's RG, MRG) is an artistic sport which is performed to music on a 13 x13m gymnastic spring floor. It is sometimes called synchronized tumbling, combining the dynamism of powerful acrobatics and perfection of synchronous moves. 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, and power are the main focus, as well as apparatus handling, flexibility and movements called "Toshu"(literally means "freehand"). There are an increasing number of gymnasts, competing alone and on a team; it is most popular in Japan, where high school and university teams compete fiercely. As of 2016, it is estimated there are about 2,000 participants in Japan alone. Some of the outstanding rhythmic gymnasts have made most of their physical abilities for their second carriers and become performers in the field of entertainment such as the world-famous circus Cirque du Soleil.
Men's rhythmic gymnastics in Japan was originally created by adopting elements from Swedish, Danish, and German gymnastics. It has been taught and performed for many years with the aim of improving physical strength and health as early as the 1940s. Originally, both boys and girls used to perform this type of gymnastics, which is called "Dantai Toshu Taisou", literally "group freehand gymnastics". In 1967, the name "Shintaisou" ("new gymnastics") was adopted as a translation of "Modern Gymnastics," which used to be done in Northern and Central Europe. On the other hand, rhythmic gymnastics for women has also been called "Shintaisou" in Japan since it was first imported to the country. Currently, MRG and women's rhythmic gymnastics are both under the umbrella of Japan Gymnastics Association and major competitions are often held at the same venue. Men's RG consists of two types of events: group events of 6 people (freehand or no apparatus) and individual events using apparatus (stick, rings, rope and clubs). Both group and individual events are performed on a spring floor, allowing gymnasts to do various kinds of tumbling during their performance.
For individual performances, a gymnast manipulates one or two pieces of apparatus (double rings, stick, clubs, rope) to demonstrate their skill at apparatus handling, throws, and catches as well as the difficulty of the tumbling. The gymnast must work the entire floor area whilst showing continuous flowing movement. The permitted time for individual events is between 1 minute 15 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds. During a competition, each individual gymnast performs four separate routines, one for each apparatus. Points are based a 20-point scale. The first 10-point scale measures composition (difficulty) based on technical value, variety, harmony between music and movements and originality, while the execution of performance is a maximum of 10 points. The individual scores of all four routines for each gymnast are then added up to decide the all-around winner.
Group performance includes non-acrobatic movements called "Toshu" (handstands, flexibility exercises, balance, etc.), and rotational movements (tumbling and lifts). Group performances are done without using any apparatus. The permitted time for group events is between 2 minutes 45 seconds to 3 minutes. Points are awarded based a 20-point scale that measures difficulty and execution of the routine. Composition/Difficulty of performance is scored out of a maximum of 10 points, based on technical value (such as difficulty of tumbling elements and movement elements), variety (variety of movements, change of formations, etc.), harmony between music and movements, and originality, with deductions for lack of required elements or stepping out, and so on. Execution of performance is scored out of a maximum of 10 points, based on quality of execution, accuracy of performance and synchronization, with deductions taken for mistakes or lack of movements in unison, etc. Some of the group routine videos went viral on the Internet, including Ibara High School's two routines in 2013 and 2016 and Aomori University's routine in 2009, which was dedicated to their deceased teammate. A lot of other MRG videos are also available on YouTube.
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).
In 2013, the Aomori University MRG Team collaborated with renowned Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake and American choreographer Daniel Ezralow (Spiderman, Cirque du Soleil) to create a one-hour contemporary performance, "Flying Bodies, Soaring Spirits," that featured all 27 Aomori men's rhythmic gymnasts outfitted in Miyake’s signature costumes. Held July 18, 2013 at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo, the show drew an audience of 2,600. "Flying Bodies" was also captured in a 78-minute documentary by director Hiroyuki Nakano that follows the coaches, gymnasts and creative team for the three months leading up to the performance.
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- Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (in English) / (in French)
- Rhythmic Gymnastics on the British Gymnastics website
- Rhythmic Gymnastics at About.com
- Rhythmic Gymnastics Music
- Rudolf Bode at the German Wikipedia