After being performed in its earliest form at the inaugural modern Olympic Games, artistic gymnastics emerged as an official Olympic event in 1952 and has been included in the games ever since. The first gymnastics World Championships was hosted in 1962, and in 1976, gymnastics was entered as an event in the Canadian Commonwealth Games. Today there are numerous high profile national and international gymnastics events including the:
- British Championships
- British Open Tournament
- World Trampoline Championships
- European Championships
- World Artistic Championships
- The Challenge Cup
International and Olympic gymnastics competition is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) which was formed in 1881 to regulate the competitive elements of gymnastics. Today the FIG determines the rules of competitive events and the scoring system by which levels of skills performed by gymnasts are assessed.
In the mid-1950’s a series of rules was developed to standardise competitive gymnastics:
- Gymnasts are only allowed to make one attempt on each apparatus.
- Assistants known as ‘spotters’ may stand next to specified pieces of apparatus to prevent risk of injury but 0.4 will be taken off the final score if help is required.
- Spotters are allowed to help gymnasts mount the still rings and the horizontal bars.
- Gymnasts may wear bandages or leather grips to increase friction on the apparatus.
- Gymnasts may be penalised for what the judges consider to be unsporting behaviour.
- Gymnasts may repeat a routine if it has been interrupted by an external factor.
- Gymnasts must obtain permission to leave the arena during a competition.
Gymnastics events are scored by two groups of judges: difficulty judges and execution judges who each award the gymnast a mark out of ten at the end of their routine. If a minor error is made 0.1 is taken off the final mark but more serious errors may cost the gymnast anything up to 0.4 of a point deduction. If the gymnast falls off a piece of apparatus half a point is deducted. Once each judge has given a mark, the highest and lowest scores are discounted and the gymnast’s overall score is averaged from the remaining scores.