Gymnastics, a sport in which physical feats requiring strength, balance, flexibility, and agility are performed in an artistic manner…
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Gymnastics, a sport in which physical feats requiring strength, balance, flexibility, and agility are performed in an artistic manner. The word derives from the Greek gymnos, meaning “naked,” and gymnazein, meaning “to train (athletes) naked.” It originally encompassed competition in track and field events, wrestling, boxing, and chariot racing. Later, the term was used for activities such as marching, calisthenics, hand apparatus exercises, and heavy apparatus stunts. In modern usage, gymnastics denotes a sport comprising specific events with prescribed performance ratings for the various skills.
In international gymnastic contests men compete in six events: floor exercise, side horse, rings, long horse, parallel bars, and horizontal bar. Women compete in four: side horse vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam, and floor exercise to music. International gymnastic teams are composed of six competitors; each member of the team must compete in all events. All-round honors are awarded to the performer who totals the highest score, which is the sum of the scores earned in the separate events.
In all events except vaulting, performance is in the form of a series of skills. Some skills are prescribed; these are termed compulsory exercises, and all competitors must execute them. Competitors also compose their own routines; these are called optional exercises.