Gymnastics is one of the most popular spectator sports in the Olympic Games. People love to watch gymnastics. Gymnastics is not just one sport though. In the Olympics there are three categories of gymnastic events: Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline and there are multiple events within these categories. In this post we will take a closer look at some of the vocabulary related to gymnastics. But first here is a little more information about this sport.
Did you know that the English word ‘gymnastics’ comes from the Greek gymnos, which means naked. This is because Ancient Greek gymnasts used to compete without any clothes! Today the clothing, or uniform, worn by gymnasts (gymnastic athletes) is called a leotard. The same word is used for both men and women’s uniforms, though the look of the leotards are different on men and women. The men wear a sleeveless leotard and a pair of short shorts, while women wear a one-piece leotard that covers their entire torso.
In the Olympic games, each country is allowed to bring 10 gymnasts to compete: 5 men and 5 women. This year there are 196 gymnasts competing in London: 98 men and 98 women. In the Olympics gymnasts compete individually in different areas, but they also compete to be the best all-around athlete, and for the best team performance.
Here is some English gymnastics related vocabulary that you can think about and practice using while watching the many gymnastic competitions. Pictures related to some vocabulary are below the definitions.
cartwheel – This is a maneuver in which a person moves sideways, from hands to feet, in a straight line, while keeping the back, arms, and legs straight, and the feet pointed. The person moves in a way like the wheel of a cart would move, hence the name.
floor/floor exercise – The floor is a specifically sized surface where gymnasts perform choreographed routines that include tumbling and acrobatic skills. The floor exercise is performed on the floor apparatus.
mat – This is a type of safety equipment that is used to soften a fall from gymnastic equipment that is high off the ground.
rings – The rings competition is completed on two rings that are suspended 280cm from the floor. Rings are exclusively used in men’s competitions.
somersault – This is gymnastics maneuver in which a person holds their legs close to their body, with their head tucked into their chest, like a ball, and then moves forward feet over head in a circular motion.
Here is one last interesting fact about gymnastics and the Olympics, Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast, has 18 Olympic medals, which is the most medals ever won by a single athlete in any sport!