Olympic Gymnastics 2012: 5 Cool Facts You Can Use to Impress Your Friends

Emily Bayci@emilybayciContributor IIIJuly 29, 2012

Olympic Gymnastics 2012: 5 Cool Facts You Can Use to Impress Your Friends

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    Gymnastics, because of the breathtaking routines and glamorous but intense choreography, is one of the most publicized and revered events in the summer Olympics

    However, it’s a very complicated sport and many people find impossible to understand everything that goes behind the judging and scoring.

    Gymnasts no longer score perfect 10's but instead land in the mid-teens. Gymnasts are awarded points before they even begin competing based on the difficulty of their routine.

    Here are some fun facts about the Olympics so that you can be the smartest person in the room and impress everybody you’re watching with your gymnastics knowledge.

1. A Deep History

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    Gymnastics has a long and rich tradition. The sport was practiced more than 2,000 years ago by the ancient Greeks.

    The sport fell out of favor because of its lack of intellectual stimulation.

    The first large-scale gymnastics meet was held during the 1896 Olympics. 

    The German gymnastics team controlled the event and won almost every medal. Some events have been added and then removed from competition like rope climbing and club swinging.

    Some track and field events—pole vault, shot put, and the 100-meter sprint—were at one time considered gymnastics events.

    Women were not allowed to compete in Olympic gymnastics until 1928. The first female event was combined group exercise and the Netherlands claimed the title.

2. Age Games

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    Most gymnasts start their careers around the age of 3 or 4. 

    Gymnasts used to have to be 14 to compete in the Olympics. 

    There have been several situations where women's gymnasts were accused of doctoring their ages. There seems to be a history of it in Romania and there was a huge scandal concerning the Chinese gymnasts in the 2008 games. There seem to be no age questions for the 2012 Games.

    Most female athletes are successful around the years of 14 to 18 while male gymnasts are usually successful in their late teens to early 20s.

3. Gymnastics Differences

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    There are several differences between men's and women's gymnastics and also between artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. All the divisions have several similar base concepts, but that is practically all that is alike.

    Women's gymnastics is not like softball or women's basketball where it's the men's sport modified for women. It's completely different, starting with events.

    Men compete on parallel bars, high bar and pommel horse while women compete on the uneven bars and balance beam. The only overlapping events are vault and floor. Women use music for their floor routines but men do not.

    Men's routines focus on strength and power while women's routines are more focused on artistry and strength (though those factors do come into play for each team).

    Every rhythmic gymnastics routine is performed to music and they do not use any special apparatuses, instead everything is done on a padded floor surface. Rhythmic gymnasts use props like a rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.

    In team competition, artistic gymnasts perform one at a time while rhythmic gymnasts compete as a group and are judged on their synchronization.

4. The Cursed Curses

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    A few curses can be looked at in this gymnastics competition.

    First and most noteworthy is the Sports Illustrated cover curse which could possibly jinx the women's team.

    The entire US women's gymnastics team was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in its Olympic preview issue July 23.

    The last Olympian to be featured on an SI Olympics cover issue was skier Lindsey Vonn, who entered the 2010 Games with a deeply bruised right shin. Aside from Olympics, there have been tons of other notable instances.

    Jordyn Wieber could be cursed in a good way as she may be the third straight American woman to win the Olympic all-around gold but not U.S. Trials. The last two were Nastia Liukin in 2004 and Carly Patterson in 2008.

    Something that could be looked at as a good curse or a bad curse is that Romanian gymnast Larisa Iordache was dubbed "the new Nadia", after Nadia Comaneci who scored the first perfect 10 in gymnastics. Iordache has already been experiencing troubles as she developed plantar fasciitis in her left heel and will not likely compete in all four events.

5. A Goofy Group

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    This years clan of gymnasts likes to have fun.

    Gabby Douglas did the Dougie on national television after winning trials. The entire women's team is trying to develop British accents while in London. All the gymnasts seem to spend a lot of time on Twitter.

    John Orozco had three background roles on Law and Order. Britain's Louis Smith tried out for British X Factor.

Bonus Trivia

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    Here are some trivia questions about U.S. gymnastics so you can even further your knowledge.

    Q: Who was the first American woman to win the Olympic all-around gold medal?

    A: Mary Lou Retton in 1984.


    Q: Who was the first set of brothers to compete in Olympic gymnastics?

    A: Paul and Morgan Hamm. Paul won the 2004 all-around gold medal.


    Q: Which male gymnast was an Olympian in 2000, and an alternate in 2004?

    A: Steve McCain. Raj Bhavsar and Jamie Natalie were both alternates but not Olympians.