1. How old do you have to be to participate in the gymnastics world championships?
Over the course of time, the age limit for participation at a world championship has been moved up. Today, the limit sits at 18 for Men and 16 for the Women Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics, 17 for Trampoline (18 for the Olympic Games), 18 for Aerobic, and 15 for Acrobatic Gymnastics (the minimum age for flier).
The minimum age is designed to protect gymnasts. High level gymnastics practised too early on can be hazardous to the health of a gymnast.
2. How is a final score determined in gymnastics?
It’s easy. The two D judges tally the value of the eight most difficult elements, dismount included, which gives the D, or Difficulty, score. The five E judges subtract penalties from an initial 10 point score, which becomes the E score (Execution). The high and the low are dropped and the middle scores re- averaged to obtain the Execution, score. The final score is the sum of D+E, subtracting any penalties, such as a step out of bounds.
There are two juries in Rhythmic: Difficulty (D1 + D2), and Execution (E). These evaluate elements, content and execution, respectively, on a ten-point scale. The final score is obtained by adding D +E.
Two juries evaluate Difficulty (D) and Execution (E). They obtain a final score by adding the two and subtracting any penalties. In Synchro Trampoline, an additional jury evaluates synchronisation only. Flight time is also measured, and is decisive in ranking.
Aerobic has three juries: Artistic (A), Execution (E) and Difficulty (D). The final score is obtained by adding A+E+D, and subtracting the Difficulty score divided by 2. Difficulty is cut by half in order to give precedence to artistic content.
Each of the three exercises, static (balance), dynamic and combined is unique and is judged by three different juries: Artistic (A), Difficulty (D) and Execution (E). The sum of A+D+E is the final score.
3. What is IRCOS?
IRCOS stands for Instant Replay and Control System, a video recording of each exercise that acts as a verification tool for judges. An exclusive system designed jointly by the FIG and its partner Longines / Swiss Timing, IRCOS offers judges the possibility to view an exercise within the seconds that follow in the event of an inquiry. IRCOS is also used by judges and coaches for educational purposes. It was officially used for the first time at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Melbourne (AUS) in November 2005.
4. What is the difference between Aerobic Gymnastics and Fitness?
While Aerobic Gymnastics is the daughter of fitness, it swiftly developed into a competitive sport in its own right. Fitness targets well-being, while AER is a discipline governed by a Code of Points, and evaluated by judges. Aerobics was introduced to the FIG at 1st World Championships in Paris in 1995.
5. When did the Code of Points come into being?
The Code of Points is a reference document. It is the basis on which an exercise is evaluated; a manual that outlines the elements that make up the whole. The Code sets guidelines for future development. The very first code was drawn up in 1949 by Mr Arthur Gander (SUI), who sat as the President of the FIG from 1966 to 1976.
6. Why do gymnasts use chalk at the bars?
Chalk allows a gymnast to swing and turn around the bars without being slowed down by sweaty hands. It also helps a gymnast to maintain a good grip and avoid slipping (as well as on the beam, for example).
7. How many scores will judges issue at an Artistic world championship?
A whopping 18,000!
8. What is the average age of a competing gymnast today?
The average varies depending on the discipline. In Artistic 2012 at the Olympic Games in London, it was 24.44 for men and 19.78 for women. In Rhythmic: 19.58. Trampoline: 25.06 for men and 22.48 for women. In Aerobic: 23.03 for men and 22.60 for women. And for Acrobatic: 20.87 for men and 18.97 for women.
9. Why are certain elements named after people?
Simple. Certain elements carry the name of the first gymnast to perform them. Following each World Championship, the technical committee evaluates and records any new elements, and names them after the respective gymnast.
For instance in Women’s Vault, a Yurchenko starts with a round-off onto the board. It was first performed by Natalya Yurchenko (URS) in 1982 at the World Cup Final in Zagreb (YUG). Another example is the Kim-Tsukahara (full twist 360° in first salto and double backward in the second), performed by Nellie Kim at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal (CAN).
10. How many times has gymnastics been on the Olympic Games programme?
Every single time! Since 1896 in fact, the year of the first Olympic Games of the modern era, masterminded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
11. Is it possible for a judge to cheat?
Unfortunately it does happen, but with less and less frequency. The FIG has set in place judging control systems, the sole aim of which is to pinpoint individuals who may have lost their sense of fair play and fallen prey to corruption. Cheaters can expect to pay a high price for unsportsmanlike conduct.
12. How do you verify whether an athlete is clean in the fight against doping?
Gymnasts are tested both in and out of competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and National Anti-Doping Agencies (NADA) work in collaboration with the FIG to draw up a list of gymnasts to be tested. Two urine samples are taken and transferred to appropriate laboratories. In the event that an A sample comes back positive, followed by a positive B sample, disciplinary action is taken. Out of competition, gymnasts may be tested at any place any time between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. As any elite athlete is required to do, listed gymnasts are required to provide the WADA with whereabouts information for a period of three months.
13. What happens if a gymnast tests positive?
Having tested positive a gymnast may have his or her medal withdrawn, points and prizes confiscated and be sanctioned to the point of missing out on a World Championship or even the Olympic Games.
14. How do you become a judge?
Potential judges follow courses offered by their own national federations and the international federation, which eventually lead to obtaining a brevet and judging small and then large-scale competitions. A brevet is much like a driver’s license, progressing from a scooter to a car to a truck.
15. What do gymnasts do after their sporting careers?
Most become judges and coaches. Others forge careers in physical therapy and kinesiology. Some move on to sport administration by becoming members within their national federations, continental and international unions. Several former Olympic medallists sit on the FIG administrative boards (i.e. Nellie Kim, Liubov Andrianova and Sawao Kato), as did many others before them.
16. Is gymnastics dangerous for children?
No! As long as they respect the basic guidelines of common sense. This is why the FIG has created, financed and organised its Gymnastic Academies; the Academies educate coaches, who in turn train young gymnasts.
17. How does a gymnast participate in a World Championship?
A gymnast reaches a minimum level set by his or her national federation. Each FIG affiliated federation may send a prescribed number of gymnasts to a World Championship event.
18. How do they qualify for the Olympic Games?
They qualify at the World Championships preceding the Olympic Games and at a second qualifying event (Olympic Test Events). World Championship medallists qualify automatically.
19. Do gymnasts make a good living?
NO! This isn’t Formula 1 and it isn’t Tennis or Soccer, either. Take, for instance, the winner of an Artistic World Cup apparatus competition. He’ll win 3,000 Swiss francs. Place first in a World Cup All-around and take home 15,000 Swiss francs. Prize money is also given out at World Championship events.
20. Are many gymnasts coached by their parents?
A few are. One of the most well-known is Valeri Liukin, who is father and was coach to Nastia Liukin, Olympic and World Champion in Women’s Artistic. But there was also Nina Vitrichenko, who coached her daughter Elena in Rhythmic Gymnastics, and the famous Carballo family of Spain.
21. Is gymnastics practised widely?
Gymnastics is practised in clubs by about 50 million people. It is one of the star sports of the Olympic Games in terms of audience and television ceverage. The FIG is the oldest established international sport federation. Gymnastics is important mostly because of the educational message it possesses. At the FIG, Gymnastics for All is the number one discipline, and sets the foundation for all other FIG competitive disciplines.
22. Does it cost a lot to do gymnastics?
You only need a pair of shorts and a t-shirt! By the way, did you know that in ancient Greece gymnastics was practised in the nude; the word gymnastics comes from the Greek “gumnos” which means naked. Acquiring apparatus (beam, horizontal bar, etc.) does cost money. With that said, Aerobic and Acrobatic do not require a single apparatus.
23. Which country has won the most medals?
Most definitely the former Soviet Union (USSR). Statistics also show that countries with a long-standing tradition in gymnastics, such as Japan, China, Switzerland and Germany, were consistent in medal accumulation. Today, medal distribution has become much more universal. Larissa Latynina and Nikolai Andrianov, both members of the former USSR team, have won more Olympic medals than any other gymnast, with 19 and 15 respectively.
24. If an athlete lacks the financial means, how can he get out there and compete?
The gymnast’s federation can help, but more often than not an athlete with real talent can request aid from Olympic Solidarity, a support group in the IOC that redistributes Olympic revenue to athletes with visible talent, but who lack the financial resources necessary to hire a coach, or to travel and study.
25. What is an NOC?
NOC stands for National Olympic Committee. The IOC is made up of 205 National Affiliated Olympic Committees, whereas the FIG has a membership of 127 National Affiliated Federations.
26. Is the Code of Points different for women and men?
Yes, each discipline has its’ own code. The FIG develops 6 different codes, one ofr each discipline. There is, however, a common denominator among FIG disciplines that makes it easier to understand the judging process.
27. Are there risks involved when practising gymnastics?
Accidents happen, and no activity is risk-free. Gymnastics has seen some unfortunate accidents in its time, despite rigorous safety measures. The FIG invests substantially in accident prevention through the education and training of gymnastic coaches. In addition, apparatus are strictly tested by specialised institutes in Tokyo and Freiburg im Breisgau.
28. When was gymnastics first practised?
At the dawn of man. Gymnastics equals movement; no living being exists without it, and specialists have shown that contrary to machines that wear down with use, the human body is perfected through it.
29. What is the role of the International Gymnastics Federation?
It is the exclusive, global umbrella organisation that governs the discipline, its rules and its competitions. The FIG is the sole authority recognised by the IOC and other international institutions, such as the UN, WHO and UNICEF.
30. What’s the duty of a Reference Judge?
These Judges are selected by the FIG Presidential Commission. They evaluate Execution. If their average score differs from the judges’ panel average score, according to specific tolerances, the two averages are combined.
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