About Trampoline Gymnastics
Of all the disciplines of Gymnastics, Trampoline gymnasts get the biggest air, thrilling audiences with their high-flying exploits and fully living up to the Olympic Games's "Higher, Faster, Stronger" Olympic motto. That's especially true for the "Higher" part: Athletes use the Trampoline to catapult themselves to heights that can surpass 10 meters, or the height of a three-story building. Without technological devices strapped to the body, Trampolining is as close as human beings get to flying solo.
Trampoline gymnasts compete in one of four categories: Individual Trampoline, Synchronised Trampoline, Double-mini Trampoline and Tumbling. The best gymnasts often specialize in two or the four disciplines: Individual Trampolinists often compete in Synchro as well, while some top Double-mini gymnasts take part in Tumbling at the World level. While it's not unheard of, very few will do Individual Trampoline as well as Double-mini or another combination of the two.
The relationship between gymnast and the trampoline is paramount, as one badly judged takeoff or landing can send a gymnast flying off the equipment and onto the mats below. Unlike in other forms of Gymnastics, a fall from the trampoline ends a routine, giving each exercise an additional element of suspense.
The origins of Trampoline Gymnastics
In 1934, an American gymnast named George Nissen, inspired by watching circus acrobats fall onto flexible safety nets and use the rebound to perform acrobatic skills, constructed the first prototype Trampoline out of canvas and rubber for inner tubes. Nissen called his device a Trampoline after trampolin, the Spanish word for springboard. While Trampolining caught on quickly as a backyard activity and was even used to teach pilots air sense in World War II.
As a sport, Trampolining was slower to catch on. The first U.S. National Championships in Trampoline were held in 1948, but a World Championships in Trampoline were not held until 1964.
From FIT to FIG
2000 Olympic champion Alexander Moskalenko (RUS)
At its first World Championships, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Trampoline was a sport without a governing body. It wasn't until after the competition, won by Americans Dan Millmann and Judy Wills, that the Fédération Internationale de Trampoline (FIT) was officially established.
By this time, Trampoline was so popular that it had come to the attention of the FIG, which had voted 11-1 to reject Rudolf Spieth's suggestion to include Trampoline as an FIG discipline three years earlier. "This is not an attractive apparatus for female gymnasts," sniffed Women's Technical Committee President Berthe Villancher.
The FIT flourished over the next 30 years and was recognised as an international federation by the IOC in 1988. The road to becoming an Olympic sport ran for a decade, as Trampoline pursued a strategy of "seduction" that included top Trampolinists performing outside the Olympic Museum in Lausanne for an audience that included then-IOC President Juan-Antonio Samaranch and members of the International Olympic Committee.
Per joint decision, the FIT was dissolved at the end of 1998 and Trampoline became a FIG discipline on January 1, 1999. It has been part of the Olympic programme since the 2000 Games in Sydney, where George Nissen, the man who started it all, watched proudly from the stands.
Rio 2016 marked the fifth Olympiad to feature Trampoline as part of the Olympic programme. Technological advances to the apparatus have made it possible for trampolinists to achieve greater heights than ever before, while Time of Flight, the amount of time a gymnast spends in the air, now counts as part of a gymnast's score, along with Difficulty and Execution.
No country has embraced Trampoline more than China, which produced at least one gold medallist at the World and Olympic level every year from 2007 to 2015. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, however, Uladzislau Hancharou (BLR) rose to beat both 2012 Olympic champion Dong Dong and 2015 World champion Gao Lei, ending a decade of dominance by the Chinese. For her part, Canada's Rosannagh MacLennan captured a second consecutive Olympic gold, becoming the first Trampoline gymnast to mount a successful title defense at the Games.
Trampoline Gymnastics official pictogram
Updated October 2016