Gymnastics is a sport involving the performance of exercises requiring flexibility, balance and control. Internationally, all events are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG). Each country has its own national governing body (BIW) affiliated to FIG. Competitive artistic gymnastics is the best known of the gymnastic events. It typically involves the women's events of vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. Men's events are floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and the high bar. Gymnastics evolved from exercises used by the ancient Greeks that included skills for mounting and dismounting a horse, and from circus performance skills. Other FIG disciplines include: rhythmic gymnastics, trampolining and tumbling and aerobic gymnastics. Disciplines not currently recognized by FIG include aesthetic group gymnastics, men's rhythmic gymnastics and TeamGym. Participants can include children as young as 20 months old doing kindergym and children's gymnastics, recreational gymnasts of ages 5 and up, competitive gymnasts at varying levels of skill, and world class athletes.
In the beginning of gymnastics, which formally originated from Ancient Greece, gymnastics was originally intended for military training, where it was used by soldiers to get ready for war. The skills and strength in performing gymnastics at the ancient times were thought as great assets to those battling on the warfield. In 1569, Girolamo Mercuriale from Forlì (Italy) wrote Le Arte Gymnastica, which brought together his study of the attitudes of the ancients toward diet, exercise and hygiene, and the use of natural methods for the cure of disease. Girolamo was an Italian philogist and physician, who received his doctorate in 1555. He was later asked to occupy the Chair of Medicine in 1569. De Arte Gymnastica also explained the principles of physical therapy and is considered the first book on sports medicine. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Germany, three pioneer physical educators – Johann Friedrich GutsMuths (1759–1839) and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778–1852) – created exercises for boys and young men on apparatus they had designed that ultimately led to what is considered modern gymnastics. Don Francisco Amorós y Ondeano, was born on February 19, 1770 in Valence and died on August 8, 1848 in Paris. He was a Spanish colonel, and the first person to introduce educative gymnastic in France. Jahn promoted the use of parallel bars, rings and high bar in international competition. Early 20th century gymnastics in Stockholm, Sweden. The Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) was founded in Liege in 1881. By the end of the nineteenth century, men's gymnastics competition was popular enough to be included in the first "modern" Olympic Games in 1896. From then on until the early 1950s, both national and international competitions involved a changing variety of exercises gathered under the rubric, gymnastics, that would seem strange to today's audiences and that included for example, synchronized team floor calisthenics, rope climbing, high jumping, running, and horizontal ladder. During the 1920s, women organized and participated in gymnastics events. The first women's Olympic competition was primitive, only involving synchronized calisthenics and track and field. These games were held in 1928, in Amsterdam. By 1954, Olympic Games apparatus and events for both men and women had been standardized in modern format, and uniform grading structures (including a point system from 1 to 15) had been agreed upon. At this time, Soviet gymnasts astounded the world with highly disciplined and difficult performances, setting a precedent that continues. The new medium of television has helped publicize and initiate a modern age of gymnastics. Both men's and women's gymnastics now attract considerable international interest, and excellent gymnasts can be found on every continent. Nadia Comaneci received the first perfect score, at the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal, Canada. She was coached in Romania by coach, (Hungarian ethnicity), Béla Károlyi. Comaneci scored four of her perfect tens on the uneven bars, two on the balance beam and one in the floor exercise. Even with Nadia's perfect scores, the Romanians lost the gold medal to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Comaneci became an Olympic icon. In 2006, a new points system for Artistic gymnastics was put into play. With an A Score (or D score) being the difficulty score, which as of 2009 is based on the top 8 high scoring elements in a routine (excluding Vault). The B Score (or E Score), is the score for execution, and is given for how well the skills are performed.