History of the Sport
Rhythmic gymnastics is an Olympic sport in which individual gymnast or Group of 5 gymnasts perform with pieces of apparatus such as: Clubs, Hoop, Ball, Ribbon, Rope and Freehand (no apparatus). An individual athlete only performs with 1 apparatus at a time. When multiple gymnasts are performing a routine together a maximum of two types of apparatus may be distributed through the group. Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation technique. The winner is the participant who earns the most points, determined by the panel of judges, for leaps, balances, pirouettes (pivots), apparatus handling, and execution. Each gymnast’s choreography must be original and her own and must cover the entire floor and contain required elements and difficulties such as: balances, jumps, leaps, turns, apparatus handling and flexibility movements. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill and physical abilities. A rhythmic gymnast must show incredible strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.
The sport is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition. The largest events in the sport are the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships, World Cup and Grand-Prix Series.
Competitive rhythmic gymnastics began in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. The FIG formally recognized this discipline in 1961, first as Modern Gymnastics, then as Rhythmic Sportive Gymnastics, and finally as Rhythmic Gymnastics. The first World Championships for individual rhythmic gymnasts was held in 1963 in Budapest. Groups were introduced at the same level in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rhythmic gymnastics was added to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, with an Individual All-Around competition. However, many federations from the Eastern European countries were forced to boycott by the Soviet Union. Canadian Lori Fung was the first rhythmic gymnast to earn an Olympic gold medal.