From Academic Kids
Artistic gymnastics is a discipline of gymnastics in which competitors perform short routines (ranging from approximately 10 to 90 seconds) on different apparatus (see lists below). They are then graded on a scale from 0 to 10 based on the difficulty and precision of movements performed, as well as the execution of certain required movements. The scoring of gymnastics routines is regulated in the Code of Points.
In elite competition, each competitor will compete once on each apparatus; their scores are recorded and points tallied. Medals are then awarded based on the highest team and individual scores. The next day, the best performers on each apparatus compete for medals on the apparatus on which they have qualified.
Artistic gymnastics is one of the most popular spectator sports at the Summer Olympic Games, although it is not a particularly popular participant sport, as performing at even a basic level requires very high levels of fitness and skill which take more training than many people are prepared to commit. However, the discipline of general gymnastics is geared more towards participation for fun and fitness, rather than competition, and attracts a respectable number of participants including retired gymnasts.
The apparatus used in Men's Artistic Gymnastics (MAG), and Women's Artistic Gymnastics (WAG), varies, with the unique men's apparatus particularly emphasising strength requirements and the women's apparatus emphasising balance and agility.
In the past, female gymnastics was dominated by girls in their early teenage years, as their small size and light weight made landings softer and many movements easier. Minimum age requirements, caused by concerns about competitor welfare and audience skepticism of the relevance of a contest dominated by prepubertal girls, have changed this somewhat, but elite female gymnasts are generally in their middle to late teenage years and of below-average height and weight. Male gymnasts, because of the different emphases of their apparatus, reach their peak in their early twenties.
The world's best gymnasts have traditionally come from Romania, Russia, and China. The United States is usually considered a "second power" in the sport, despite having produced some famous gymnasts, especially in the women's category (such as Mary Lou Retton, Shannon Miller and, more recently, Carly Patterson). Japan is in a similar situation.
In women's gymnastics, you start at level 1, and work your way up to 10. After Level 10, you are one of the best in the world- Elite. Oddly enough, in men's gymnastics, you start at level 7, and work your way down (which is actually up) to level 1, then you become Elite. Once you are Elite, you can compete in competitions such as the Pan Am Games, the World Championships, the Olympics, etc. However, there are other levels somewhere inbetween levels, such as AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and Prep-Opt (Prep-Optional.)
WAG apparatus include (in olympic order):
MAG apparatus include (in olympic order):
Equipment and uniforms: