A primer on Olympic gymnastics – artistic and trampoline

Gymnastics events have been a part of the summer Olympics since the first modern Games in 1896.

There are two main gymnastics categories: artistic gymnastics and trampoline gymnastics.


Artistic gymnastics have some of the most varied events. Women compete on the vault, the uneven bars, the balance beam, and the floor. Men compete on the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar.

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Athletes no longer strive for the “perfect 10” in their routines; the scoring process was overhauled for the 2008 Olympics, and was replaced with a new, two-part system. Two judging panels score each gymnast’s performance.

One panel focuses on the degree of difficulty of the routine, and the other focuses on the routine’s execution, composition, and “artistry.” The two scores are put together for the final score. As a result, top-level gymnasts now typically earn scores ranging from 14-17 for their routines.

Trampoline gymnastics is an entirely different category. In trampoline gymnastics events, competitors perform 90-second routines on a large trampoline.

Gymnasts must make contact with the trampoline ten times throughout their routine, and typically reach heights of about 30 feet. Athletes perform 35 different twists and somersaults while in the air.

Nine judges observe the routines. Five pay attention to execution, two score the degree of difficulty, and two oversee the contest.

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