Baku 2015: A Sport-by-Sport Review

Team GB’s athletes showed that they are among the best the continent has to offer at the European Games as the squad finished with 47 medals. Th...


Full Article


Gymnastics is one of the oldest Olympic sports. It has always been a part of the ancient, as well as the modern Olympic Games. The term “gymnastics” derives from the Greek word “gymnos”, meaning naked. This is also the root of the word “gymnasium”, which was a training area where athletes gathered to exercise, compete in sports and receive training in philosophy, music and literature.

Grace, rhythm, skill and dynamic movement are only some of the characteristics of Gymnastics, one of the most popular sports of the Olympic Games. Athletes, with or without the accompaniment of music and only with their body or with the use of apparatus, perform a series of exercises where art and sport coexist, thereby attracting millions of fans.

The programme of the Olympic Games includes Artistic Gymnastics for men and women, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Trampoline Individual for men and women.


Olympic History

Rhythmic Gymnastics was introduced as an official Olympic discipline in the programme of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, while the first group competition was introduced 12 years later, in 1996, at the Atlanta Olympic Games.


Rhythmic Gymnastics is a sport for women, developing grace, coordination, agility and artistry. It is always performed to music with the gymnast using small hand apparatus:- rope,ball, hoop, clubs and ribbon. Behind the flawless beauty of the sport lies a complex combination of high criteria and firm requirements as to the content of the routines, the degrees of difficulty involved, the technique of handling the apparatus and overall body control.

There are two types of competition in Rhythmic Gymnastics: for Individuals and for Groups (of five gymnasts). Both are Olympic disciplines. There are two gold medals contested under rhythmic gymnastics: individual all-around and the group competition.

In the individual all around, 24 gymnasts compete using hand held apparatus – rope, hoop, ball, ribbon and clubs. Only four apparatus are contested at the Olympics, changing for every Olympiad. There are two rounds of competition, the qualification and the final.

The qualification round is held over two days. On the first day, gymnasts compete with the first two apparatus; on the next day, they use the other two. Scores from each routine are added. The top 10 qualify for the final which is then held on one day (qualification-round scores do not carry over to the final). Each gymnast again performs with all four apparatus The gymnast with the highest score is the champion.In the group competition 12 teams consisting of five gymnasts perform two routines each – one routine with 5  balls, and the other with 3 ribbons and 2 hoops.

Note: Apparatus used in group competition is changed every Olympiad. The eight groups with the highest score from the two exercises advance to the final. Scores do not carry over from the qualification round. The group with the highest total from two routines in the final wins.

The Competition Area

The competition hall must be at least 8 to 10m high, so that no problems are created when the apparatus are tossed into the air. Gymnasts compete on a 13 x 13m mat that is placed on a special wooden underlay, with 0.50-metre wide security borders around it.


The hoop is made of wood or plastic, it has a diameter of 80 - 90cm, and weighs at least 300g. The gymnasts’ technical skills are judged by the body twirls, the rolls, tossing of the hoop (figure eights and handling of the hoop), in combination with body exercises, twists and turns, the jumps, pivots, and general balance and flexibility.

The ball is 18 - 20cm in diameter and weighs at least 400g. The fundamental groups of body movement for ball pertain to flexibility. They include technical elements such as throws and catches, bouncing and rolling over the body or on the floor.

Clubs are made of wood or plastic, weigh a minimum of 150g each and are 40 - 50cm long. The two clubs are considered as one apparatus. It is one of the most difficult apparatus in Rhythmic Gymnastics. The most characteristic exercises with clubs are rotations and mills, small circles, and various throws and catches.

The ribbon consists of the baton stick and satin cloth. The stick, from which gymnasts hold the ribbon, is plastic, while the length of the satin ribbon is 6m. Snakes, spirals, throws and catches, as well as small tosses, make the ribbon one of the most impressive apparatus.

Gymnasts wear leotards of any colour that can also cover the legs and/or can be accompanied by a short skirt of the same or different colour. Special leather shoes without heels are used, increasing the athletes' effectiveness in their spinning movements.


The Sport

It is a sport discipline performed exclusively by women as individuals or in groups. Gymnasts always compete to the accompaniment of music, in routines with: Rope, Hoop, Ball, Clubs and Ribbons. The International Federation’s Technical Committee of Rhythmic Gymnastics selects the apparatus with  which athletes will compete every two years (ball, hoop, clubs and ribbon in London 2012).

In group events, each group consists of six gymnasts, five of which compete in two routines (one routine includes two different apparatus and another one with one apparatus). The duration of the routines is 1’15’’- 1’30’’ for individual exercises and 2’ 15’’ - 2’ 30’’ for group exercises.


Evaluation in Rhythmic Gymnastics is based on the regulations of the International Gymnastics Federation. Each jury in Individual and Groups competitions consists of 3 sub-groups of judges:

Difficulty (D): 4 Judges

2 of them evaluate the body movement difficulty (D1) from 0.00 to a max. of 10.00pts and 2 who evaluate the apparatus difficultly (D2) from 0.00 to a max of 10.00 pts. Final score D= average score from D1 and D2 = max. 10.00 pts.

Artistry (A): 4 Judges

All of judges evaluate the artistic value of the Basic Composition: Music accompaniment & Choreography. Average of the two middle scores of the 4 judges = max. 10.00 pts.

Execution (E): 4 Judges

Average of the two middle scores of the 4 judges = max. 10.00 pts. 

Final Score = max. 30.00 pts

Team HeroesEntire Team

Team captain Rachel Smith is an experienced international competitor who has represented Great Britain individually and in team events at junior and senior level.

Smith started in gymnastics at primary school and was scouted by her loca...

Our Results

Total: 11 medals
  • 5 Gold
  • 4 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
London 2012
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Summer EYOF 2013
  • 5 Gold
  • 4 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
View More