Authored by: Anne L. DeMartini

Routledge Handbook of Global Sport

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138887237
eBook ISBN: 9781315714264
Adobe ISBN:


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Gymnastics is not a uniform concept or practice. Gymnastics progressed through a long and fascinating journey with foundations in the performing arts, military training, the medical professions, and the education professions. Gymnastics skills, rules, and equipment continue to evolve, resulting in an incredible increase in the activity’s difficulty and popularity. This chapter explores the early history of gymnastics, its patriotic overtones, and its global spread from its origins in Europe. From the early system in 18th-century Germany, with a focus on physical education and agility, to the 21st-century version of elite international gymnastics, the sport has evolved to become one of the most popular sports played and a favourite of the Olympic Games schedule. Throughout the discussion, I explain the changes in gymnastics governance and the expansion of gymnastics disciplines. This chapter also addresses significant rule changes and judging in the sport and highlights some of its iconic athletes.

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