Men's Gymnastics Events in the 2012 Summer Olympics - dummies

Men’s Gymnastics Events in the 2012 Summer Olympics

Male gymnasts compete in two main events during the Summer Olympics — artistic gymnastics and trampoline — although to most Americans the trampoline is a little watched event. In artistic gymnastics, men compete in six events, using different pieces of equipment: floor exercises, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar.

Artistic gymnastics is one of the most popular and most familiar of the Olympic sports with various levels of competition. The difficulty of a gymnast’s routine determines the highest value he can earn — the start value. The judges take deductions from that start value to determine his final score. The team with the highest overall score wins the team finals.

Besides the team competitions, individuals also compete for medals in each Olympic event as well as individual all-around medals.

Men’s artistic gymnastics first became an Olympic sport in Athens in 1896, but the men’s individual all-around competitions and the team overall competitions didn’t appear until 1924 during the Paris games.

Men’s floor exercises in the Summer Olympics

During floor exercises, gymnasts perform a series of tumbling exercises or passes on a 40 ft. x 40 ft. (12 x 12 m) spring floor. The tumbling passes demonstrate flexibility, strength, and balance. Gymnasts also show strength skills, including balance moves and press handstands.

Men’s floor routines usually have four passes that take 60 – 70 seconds. They perform without music, unlike the women gymnasts who compete in floor exercises with choreographed routines. Gymnasts must touch each corner of the spring floor at least once during their routines.

Competitive pommel horse routines

A pommel horse, which looks little like a real horse, stands 3.77 ft. (115 cm) from the floor, is 5.2 ft. (160 cm) long, and has two 4.7 in. (12 cm) high handles (pommels) on top.

A pommel horse routine should contain at least one of each of the following elements:

  • Single leg swings and scissors (often done on the pommels)

  • Circles (swinging both legs in a circular motion) and flairs (straddling their legs), with spindles and handstands

  • Side and cross support travels (moving across the top of the pommel horse)

  • Kehrswings and wendeswings (full body rotation on one or both arms)

  • Dismounts (leaving the pommel horse by swinging over the top or landing after a handstand)

Sticking the landing means landing on both feet together without taking any extra steps. Any steps or partial steps incur deductions.

Olympics gymnastics routines with still rings

Routines performed using the still rings require a great deal of strength. Two wooden rings are suspended on wire cables 5.75 m high and 50 cm apart and are adjusted in height so gymnasts have room to hang freely and swing. Routines are designed to demonstrate balance, strength, power, and dynamic motion skills.

The event is called still rings, because one of the requirements is to prevent the rings from swinging, even while the gymnast does. Routines begin with mounts (techniques for getting on the rings) and end with dismounts.

Sticking the landing is very important in the scoring of a still rings routine. Dismounts usually involve some sort of back flip or full-body twist, and landing on both feet together without taking an extra step is particularly difficult.

Scoring deductions are given for bad form, ring movement, falls, useless swings, bad dismounts or landings, and timing errors.

Men’s Olympic vault routines

Both men and women gymnasts compete on the vault, but only against those of the same sex. Gymnasts sprint down a 25 m or shorter runway, before leaping onto a spring board, which they use to direct their bodies toward the vault (hands-first).

Body position is maintained while “popping” the vaulting platform. The gymnast completes multiple twists and somersaults in the air before landing on the far side of the vault. The difficulty of the flips, the strength exhibited, and the ability to stick the landing affect scoring.

Popping is blocking against the vault using only shoulder movement and stiff arms.

Gymnastics routines on the parallel bars

Two parallel bars are elevated above and parallel to the floor by a supporting framework. The vertical supports are adjustable so the height of the bars above the floor and distance between the bars can be set for each gymnast.

Routines must include various elements, including long swings in various support or hanging positions, underswings, and dismounts (from ends of the bars or the side of the apparatus). A gymnast’s feet must not touch the ground at any time until he dismounts.

Dismount is just a fancy way of saying getting off the equipment. However, the style and difficulty of the flipping, twisting, or body motion the gymnast completes in midair (as well as that sticky landing) affect the start value and deductions awarded.

Horizontal bar (high bar) routines in the Summer Olympics

Horizontal bar routines also are called high bar routines. A single bar is suspended on a supporting framework. The gymnast’s routine on the horizontal bar must contain various required elements such as a release move (dismount).

Gymnasts display various grips on the bar and perform giant swings over the bar. All are judged on form and dismount. It’s important for gymnasts to keep their bodies straight and their toes pointed during routines and to stick the landings.

Men’s Olympic trampoline competition

The gymnasts do ten different tricks while bouncing on a trampoline (what else?). Tricks can be tucks, twists, pikes, and flips in the air while trying to keep centered on the bed — a bit more advanced than the usual tricks performed on your neighborhood trampolines.

Olympic trampoline athletes are scored on difficulty and execution by eight judges. A score of 16 is considered a high-difficulty score for the men. Three judges score the difficulty level. Each of five judges awards a maximum score of 10 for execution, and the highest and lowest scores are dropped, leaving a maximum execution value of 30. The overall score is the sum of the difficulty score and the execution score.