19 Nov The Evolution of Gymnastics
Evolution of Gymnastics
How one of the most popular sports today came to be
A World-Famous Sport was Born
Since the inception of athletic competitions, gymnastics has grown and changed and still manages to be one of the most speculated sports. This mental and physical pastime has developed as humans have evolved.
The Grecian community was the first to demonstrate this sport, as a muscle development technique for hand-to-hand combat, and quickly became a requirement of Greek education. Popular activities such as rings, pommel horse, and floor routines were all first exhibited in the Greek Olympics. After the Macedonian Wars, in which Romans gained control over the eastern Mediterranean basin, the Romans absorbed much of the Greek culture as well. The Romans began utilizing gymnastics as training methods to strengthen their army, and maintain top fighting abilities within their troops. Eventually, the success of their conquests enabled the Romans to spread their gymnastics knowledge in Africa and England. Unfortunately, Emperor Theodosius outlawed the popular sport in AD 393. Although the Roman army continued their gymnastics practice, the Roman demise in 476 nearly wiped out gymnastics completely.
Gymnastics was recovered during the 16th Century for its numerous health and fitness benefits. A German professor and doctor, Fredrich Ludwig Jahn, designed a series of training exercises for young men using past equipment like the pommel horse, and new equipment like horizontal and parallel bars and balance beams. In 1811, he opened the first Turn Platz in history. These new gymnastics exercises quickly gained traction and labeled him as “The Father of Modern Gymnastics”. In fact, these new techniques became so popular that they were implemented into the training sessions of the U.S. military.
In 1896, gymnastics secured a spot in the first summer Olympic games, and has since then been a highly-speculated Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee formed a series of rules which were to be followed from 1954 and on. Women finally joined the Olympic ranks in 1928, and were given a clear set of rules in 1954. Mary Lou Retton and Olga Korbut became two icons in gymnastics history. Olga Korbut is credited with shifting the women’s competition focus from grace and elegance to strength and power, all while receiving the first perfect score in 1976. Meanwhile, Mary Lou Retton helped ignite the popularity of gymnastics in the United States when she became the first ever female gold medalist in 1984.
Growth of Gymnastics Equipment
Each piece of equipment used in gymnastics has changed and evolved to meet our shifting needs and priorities. The apparatus with the most dramatic transformation is the vaulting table. In response to a sudden increase in injuries caused by the original vaulting table, the current model has been standardized for every competition level.
Rings also hold a long history of development. They were not always commonly known as the still rings that came about in the 1960s. However, to ensure stability and safety, the rings we use in today’s competitions are made to be as still as possible. Additionally, they first began as iron, rubber, or wood covered in various fabric. Now, they are made of laminated wood.
The Pommel horse was originally built to allow men to practice mounting and dismounting horses. What started as a sturdy wooden block, has now become a foam and leather covered metal mount. Edges of the pommel horse are rounded to reduce the possibility of injury, while plastic handles are added to permit the athlete to perform a routine of twisting and jumping.
Bars originated from Germany in the 1800s and initially started as fixed wooden bars. These did not offer much shock-absorbing ability and bounce, thus eventually evolving into flexible and adjustable rails that allow athletes to gain height during their routines.
Late to the competitive games, came the balance beam, which started as long and narrow blocks of wood, measuring only 8 cm wide. As riskier stunts like somersaults and handsprings began trending, the balance beam was widened by 2 cm and were lined with cushioning materials to absorb impact shock and reduce risk of injury.
Taishan Sports: Gymnastics Line Evolution
Just like the history of the gymnastics industry, Taishan Sports has evolved and grown with the times. In 1978, we started manufacturing gymnastics mats. Since then, we have supplied 66 apparatus’ for 25 Chinese, Asian, and World Events. We now produce products like vault tables, uneven bars, horizontal bars, balance beams, pommel horses, rings frames, and much more.