Women’s Artistic Gymnastics
The competition program of women’s artistic gymnastics includes the vaulting table, the uneven bars, the beam, and the floor.
For the women, the vaulting table is 1.25 meters high; it is placed perpendicularly to the approach, a springboard placed in front of it. The gymnasts perform two vaults, of which the better one counts for the score.
The uneven bars consist of two wooden or fibreglass bars, each resting on vertical supports of different heights. The lower bar is 1.70 meters from the floor, while the upper bar is at 2.50 meters.
Perhaps the most dramatic piece of apparatus in women's gymnastics is the beam, a band 10 cm wide and 5 meters long, on which competitors perform daring exercises, while perched at 1.25 meters above the floor. Routines must include a variety of acrobatic elements, such as jumps and leaps, turns, step, combinations of walking and running steps, as well as wave and balance elements performed in a standing, sitting or lying position. The gymnast must use the entire length of the apparatus, while expressing simultaneously elegance, flexibility, confidence and self control. The maximum required time for the beam exercise is 1 minute and 30 seconds.
While the competitor's courage is tested on the beam, floor exercises are the gauge for skills and free expression. Accompanied by music, this performance is a blend of dance movements and a wide range of tumbling and acrobatic elements. The gymnastic or acrobatic elements vary according to the tempo, the mood or the direction taken over the 12 square meter floor area. Individuality, originality, maturity, mastery, and artistic quality are the key ingredients for the highest score.