For the next couple of weeks, the commonwealth games will feature prominently on screens of TV across the UK. In spite of the commonwealth games’ reputation as a poor man’s Olympics, the games usually capture the public’s attention, especially when the gold medals start rolling in. This is especially true when the competition is held on home soil as it is this time around.
While many people are probably aware of what gold medals are on offer on the track or in the pool, what about sports that at other times of year have a lower profile in the media? So for the purpose of this article, we thought we would take a look at one such sport, gymnastics. In men’s gymnastics, there are gold, silver and bronze medals for each individual piece of gymnast equipment and often athletes specialise in one or more of these. There is also a gold medal competition to determine the best all-around gymnast. So here are the pieces of gymnastic equipment that gymnasts are required to excel in to win the coveted gold medal.
The floor requires gymnasts to show both strength and flexibility while carrying out a choreographed routine consisting of balances like handstands and tumbles such as back flips and forward rolls. This discipline lasts for 60-70 seconds on a mat which measures 12 metres by 12 metres during which they need to touch all 4 corners.
Approximately 5.75 metres above the ground, the rings are suspended by a wire cable. As a part of their routine, gymnasts must demonstrate power, strength, balance and dynamism while preventing the rings themselves from swinging. The gymnast must perform at least one static strength move. However, some gymnasts may choose to include two or three. The routine must end with a dismount and a controlled landing.
During their routine on the parallel bars, gymnasts will implement a number of balance swings and releases that require the athlete to demonstrate high levels of strength and coordination. The apparatus itself stands 2 metres high and the width between the bars can be adjusted to fit in with the needs of the individual gymnast.
During the vault a gymnast sprints down a runway, measuring a maximum of 25 metres, before jumping onto a springboard. There is no set starting point on the runway; gymnasts are free to choose where to begin. A gymnast’s chances of performing a successful vault are largely dependent on the speed of their run, the length of the hurdle, the power they generate from their legs and shoulders, their kinaesthetic awareness in the air, the speed at which they are able to rotate and how they execute the landing.
This piece of gymnastic equipment was designed to replicate a real horse with two handles replacing the saddle. This allows the gymnast to perform an exercise involving double and single leg swings. However, the main focus of the routine is the double leg swings which are performed in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. The gymnast is required to use every part of the apparatus when performing their routine which culminates with a coordinated dismount.
A Horizontal bar is a 2.8cm thick steel or fibreglass bar standing 2.5 metres above the landing area. During the routine, a gymnast will show the ability to perform a number of different grips such as under grips, dorsal grips and over grips. In addition to bar work such as grasps, releases and turns gymnasts are required to perform an aerial dismount. A high bar routine will last around 30 seconds and requires both technical skill and strength.
Hopefully, this article will provide you with a little insight into the equipment used and skills required to take part in a commonwealth games gymnastic competition and maybe enhance your viewing experience.