Gymnastics is an event which sees the ancient and modern Olympics collide.

One of the world's oldest sports, it featured prominently in the ancient Games and has been part of every modern Olympics since their inception in 1896.

Ironically, given their absence until 1928, it could be argued that the women have provided the most memorable moments in Olympic gymnastics.

Olga Korbut's spectacular uneven parallel bars routine in 1972 and Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 in Montreal four years later are tightly woven into the fabric of Olympic history.

For Great Britain the sport has traditionally offered little cause for celebration but the 2008 Olympics was a watershed, with Louis Smith's bronze in the pommel horse the country's first since the women's team finished third in 1928.

Why is it good for you?

Gymnastics requires strength, mobility, endurance, flexibility, body control and co-ordination.

The high level of physical fitness needed to excel helps encourage a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and eating a well-balanced diet.

The wide range of tumbles, flips, vaults and swings involved works every muscle in the body and burns approximately 315 calories per hour.

As a weight-bearing activity, gymnastics can help athletes develop strong, healthy bones and joints. This reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis later on in life.

Get involved

Gymnastics is a breathtaking sport featuring a range of disciplines such as artistic, trampoline, acrobatics, aerobics and tumbling.

It is enjoyed by an estimated four million people in the United Kingdom.

There are more than 1,600 gymnastic clubs in the country and you can find the one closest to you by using the British Gymnastics club finderexternal-link.

You only need to buy your own sports kit as the different apparatus and equipment can be found in clubs.

An extensive range of training programmes for people of all abilities and ages are available in sport centres, gyms, schools, universities and colleges.

British Gymnastics' GymFusion schemeexternal-link has seen over 2000 performers take part in the non-competitive, show style festivals, with 11 events set to set to take place across the UK in the future.

Contact your local British Gymnastics development officerexternal-link to discover how you can get started, with the GymMark schemeexternal-link ensuring the highest standards are adhered to throughout the UK.

Further information can be found on the English Gymnastics,external-linkWelsh Gymnastics,external-linkScottish Gymnasticsexternal-link and Gymnastics Northern Irelandexternal-link websites.

More on the British Gymnastics websiteexternal-link

Want to get involved with sport in your local community? Why not Join In ?

'Join In Local Sport'external-link aims to get as many people as possible to turn up and take part in activities at their local sports facilities on 18/19 August, 2012 - the first weekend between the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The aim of the initiative is for every sports club and community group in the UK to put on a special event in a bid to encourage more people to get involved as members, supporters or volunteers.

More than 4,000 local sports clubs will be opening their doors to host events and show people just how they can get involved.

As well as tips on playing sport there will be information on coaching, supporting and how to help out.

Find an eventexternal-link near you.

The competition format at London 2012

  • From Saturday 28 July to Tuesday 7 August, 196 athletes (98 men, 98 women) will compete at the North Greenwich Arena.
  • The artistic gymnastics competition for both men and women has four phases: qualification, team final, individual all-around final and individual apparatus finals. Athletes compete for the team medals before the individual finals are held.
  • Each country is limited to five men and five women.
  • There are seven men's individual medals available (vault, floor, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars, high bar and all-around, which rewards the best gymnast across all six pieces of apparatus) and five for women (vault, floor, beam, uneven bars and all-around).
  • There are eight teams in each team final and eight gymnasts reach every individual final with the exception of the all-around, in which 24 compete. Gymnasts take part in a qualifying round to determine who reaches each final.

More on the London 2012 websiteexternal-link

The rules at London 2012

The days of the perfect 10 are over, as the Beijing Games saw the introduction of a new judging system. Gymnasts are now given two separate scores for difficulty and execution which are then added together.

A fall usually results in a full mark being knocked off your score, with smaller penalties for other minor errors such as stepping a foot out of bounds during the floor routine. The gymnast with the highest score wins.

More on the Team GB websiteexternal-link

Ones to watch

Three-time world champion Beth Tweddle will have two shots at an elusive Team GB Olympic medal (floor, uneven bars), while Beijing pommel horse bronze medallist Louis Smith and team-mates Daniel Keatings and Daniel Purvis are all contenders.

Smith and Tweddle offer Britain's best chance of sealing a first-ever Olympic gymnastics gold.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura is the man to beat, having won an unprecedented three consecutive all-around world titles.

All-around champion Nastia Liukin will not defend her title but the American is back from a two-year break to target the beam, bar and team events. Teenage world champion Jordyn Wieber of the USA is all-around favourite.


The ancient Greeks were the first to popularise gymnastics among the sports staged at their initial incarnation of the Olympic Games. Modern artistic gymnastics can trace its roots to Germany, where more modern styles and forms of apparatus were first codified.

The sport's world governing body was founded in 1881 and artistic gymnastics has formed a part of the Olympic programme ever since the first Games of 1896.

Since those first Games in Athens the sport has undergone a process of evolution. It began as a purely male pursuit, with female participants not taking part until 1928.

Some of the disciplines were also different during those early years - rope climbing formed part of every Olympics until 1932. Tumbling, won by Rowland 'Flip' Wolfe of the USA, also featured in 1932. Sadly for Flip that was its one and only Olympic appearance.

In 1936, the individual apparatus events began to resemble those we see at the Games today. Competitors in Berlin took part in free exercises (floor exercises), side horse (pommel horse), rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar and long horse (vault).

The four-apparatus competitive programme for women (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor) was introduced at the 1952 Games.

Historically, Russia, China, Japan and the US have been the powerhouses on the world stage and are likely to be the strongest nations again in London.

More on the IOC websiteexternal-link