Short History

     Gymnastics was developed by the classical Greeks in the fifth century BC as a means to develop the muscles necessary for hand-to-hand combat. The sport was expanded throughout the Hellenistic period where it transcended military exercise and was incorporated into everyday civilian life, thanks to its inclusion in the Greek Olympics. The Romans, after conquering Greece, developed the activities into a more formal sport, and they used the gymnasiums to physically prepare their legions for warfare. With the decline of Rome, however, interest in gymnastics dwindled, with tumbling remaining as a form of entertainment.
     In 1774, a Prussian, Johann Bernhard Basedow, included physical exercises with other forms of instruction at his school in Dessau, Saxony. With this action began the modernization of gymnastics. In the late 1700s, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn of Germany developed the side bar, the horizontal bar, the parallel bars, the balance beam, and jumping events. He, more than anyone else, is considered the "father of modern gymnastics." Gymnastics flourished in Germany in the 1800s, while in Sweden a more graceful form of the sport, stressing rhythmic movement, was developed by Guts Muth. The opening (1811) of Jahn's school in Berlin was followed by the formation of many clubs in Europe. The sport was introduced to the US by Dr. Dudley Sargent about the time of the Civil War.
     By the end of the 19 century, men's gymnastics competition was popular enough to be included in the first "modern" Olympic Games in 1896. From then on until the early 1950s, both national and international competitions involved a changing variety of exercises. At the World Championships, 1st held in Antwerp in 1903, field events such as the pole vault, broad jump, shot-put even featured every now and then until 1954. During the 1920s, women organized and participated in gymnastics events. The first women's Olympic competition, in 1928, in Amsterdam, only involving synchronized calisthenics and track and field. By 1954, Olympic Games apparatus and events had been standardized in modern format, and uniform grading structures had been agreed upon.
     The governing body of competitive gymnastics is the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique ((FIG) International Gymnastics Federation). It was founded in 1881, making it the world's oldest existing international sports organisation. FIG is the governing body for men’s artistic gymnastics, women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, aerobic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, trampolining, and parkour. Beside artistic gymnastics, on Olympic Games we have and rhythmic gymnastics, since 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and trampoline events were added at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.