Did you see the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing?! Yeah, me, too. In fact, I just couldn't stop watching! I was never much of a sports fan until I discovered the Summer Olympics back in 2004. I was sixteen.
I remember being absolutely absorbed by the U.S. women's gymnastics team, and since then, they have only improved by leaps and bounds, but of course, the competition this time around was fierce. But then again, the history behind Women's Artistic Gymnastics has always been full of intense competition.
Women's gymnastics entered the arena of Olympiad competition in 1928. It has always been a team event, but has since escalated to both team and individual contests, starting in the 1934 World Championships. By 1950, team, all-around, and apparatus events were included in the World Championship.
In the earlier days of the sport, most champions were in their early or mid-twenties and had backgrounds in dance, particularly ballet.
The first gymnast to compete on behalf of the Soviet Union, Larissa Latynina, won several medals into her late twenties and early thirties, even competing while expecting a baby. This, of course, is considered dangerous these days, but it just goes to show how things have changed.
Most female gymnasts today have almost exclusive training in the art and sport of gymnastics, though their moves are sometimes still blended with dance techniques.
Most world champions tend to be much younger than ever before, though the Olympic regulations state that competitors must be at least sixteen years of age (which is what brought on controversy during the Beijing Olympics because the Chinese competitors were very petite, appearing prepubescent).
The youth of gymnasts is generally preferred because lighter, slimmer artists tend to be able to perform more difficult acrobatic tricks; they are also more flexible and recover quicker from injuries.
In women's gymnastics, the standard uniform has always been the leotard, and it is usually in bright colors, particularly for major competitions. In the past, uniforms worn during the actual match were long-sleeved; however, both half-sleeves and even sleeveless leotards have been allowed by the Code of Points, which regulates the rules for major meets.
But uniforms are still strictly monitored. The leotard must not be cut too high, revealing too much of the hip. It is possible for gymnasts to lose points or partial points because of inappropriate attire.
Our national team doesn't typically have to worry about issues with their attire. Instead, they have to work on polishing each and every routine until it shines! The 2012 Olympics just can't come soon enough if you ask me!
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