After a long time in waiting we have finally come to it. The Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics are tonight. I conclude my previews with a look at Gymnastics, possibly the event that stung the most for American fans in Beijing when a team of 12-year old Chinese gymnasts beat the American women for gold.
There are actually 3 different types of Gymnastics in the Olympic Games: Artistic, Rhythmic, and Trampoline. When people think of gymnastics, it's typically the "Artistic" discipline.
Men's Events: Vault, Floor, Pommel Horse, Rings, Parallel Bars, Horizontal Bar, Individual All-Around, Team All-Around
Women's Events: Vault, Floor, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Individual All-Around, Team All-Around
So just what are these events?
Vault - Run down a track and use a springboard and table to thrust yourself into the air, do some spins and stuff, land as steady as possible.
Floor - Basically a wide open space, points are given for using as much floor space as possible so competitors will set their routine to go corner-to-corner as much as possible
Pommel Horse - A balance beam with two bars on it that are used to hold onto and swing around doing gymnastics stuff. yeah, that was a horrible description, but it's one of the coolest to watch.
Rings - Gymnasts hang by two rings suspended in midair. This one is all about upper body strength and being able to hold your body still.
Parallel Bars - Another event that is all about upper body strength. Two bars next to each other make it a variation on Rings. The bars are obviously less flexible than the Rings so some moves are limited side-to-side but gymnasts do go front-to-back on the bars.
Horizontal Bar - Similar to the Parallel Bars except there is only 1 bar, so the repertoire of moves becomes even more limited.
Uneven Bars - Since Women don't compete on Parallel Bars or the Horizontal Bar, they are given a task that is almost more difficult - navigating two bars that are of different heights. This is one of the more entertaining events in the Women's competition as gymnasts routinely fly back and forth between the bars.
Balance Beam - If you honestly don't know what Balance Beam is then you didn't have a childhood.
98 gymnasts in both Men's and Women's will compete in the events. Nations can qualify up to 5 competitors and only nations with 5 are eligible for the team awards. As we all well remember from Beijing, the Chinese team of 12-year-old girls (which is illegal by minimum age standards) won the Women's All-Around despite an excellent challenge from the American team (all of which were of legal age to compete).
Nations eligible for Team All-Around
Men: China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Ukraine, USA
China, Japan, and the United States won medals at the 2011 World Championships and should be the front-runners for Gold again at the London Games. Japan edged the US by 0.010 points for Silver while the US had a 4 point advantage on Russia for Bronze. Two Japanese gymnasts (Kohei Uchimura and Koji Yamamuro) won Individual All-Around medals (Gold and Bronze respectively) at the World Championships, so they are certainly a team to be reckoned with.
Women: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Romania, Russia, USA
The US Women avenged their Beijing loss to the 12-year-old Chinese girls in the 2011 World Championships, taking home the Team All-Around and Jordyn Wieber winning the Individual All-Around Gold. The Russian team finished 2nd at the World Championships with the Chinese team barely edging out Romania for Bronze.
Only women compete in Rhythmic Gymnastics which involves spinning around twirling streamers that aren't supposed to stay still or touch the ground. 24 competitors will compete Individually and in Groups. Russians have pretty much dominated this event, so don't be surprised to hear the Russian National Anthem being played at the end of this competition.
Remember how much fun it was to bounce on a trampoline when you were a kid? Well, someone decided this should be an Olympic event, just without other people on the trampoline to try to push off or land at the same time as you to make you go twice as high. Both Men and Women compete in the Trampoline and China dominated both competitions at the World Championships.