Updated: Monday, 19 March 2012 16:43 | By pa.press.net

GYMNASTICS - TRAMPOLINE

Colourful routines full of drama and acrobatic prowess characterise the trampoline competition.


Czech Republic's Zita Frydrychova shows her various skills on the trampoline. (© Press Association)

Czech Republic's Zita Frydrychova shows her various skills on the trampoline.

Gymnastics - Trampoline

Colourful routines full of drama and acrobatic prowess characterise the trampoline competition.

Advances in equipment design and materials used in trampolines over the years have resulted in athletes being able to propel themselves up to 10 metres into the air.

That has led to more daring and difficult routines being attempted, including quadruple somersaults and up to three-and-a-half twists in mid-air.

The sport was not introduced as a discipline at the Olympics until the 2000 Games in Sydney and since then, only an individual event has been staged for both men and women.

Athletes require high levels of strength, technique and flexibility to perform a series of dynamic moves one after the other during a routine.

In the qualifying round of an Olympic competition, a gymnast must perform two routines - one with compulsory elements and one optional - to try and finish in the top eight places and progress to the final.

A panel of nine judges mark an athlete based on their execution and the difficulty of a routine, which must include 10 different skills or jumps.

If successful in qualifying, an individual has the chance to perform one more optional routine, where they can decide on their own choreography and set their own degree of difficulty.

Despite being a relatively new sport at the Olympics, the art of dazzling onlookers with high-flying performances on a trampoline actually dates back to the 19th century when it was seen in circus acts.

Although the first modern trampolines were built in the 1930s at the University of Iowa in the United States, it was not until 1964 that the first World Championships were held in the sport at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The Americans enjoyed plenty of success in the early days of trampoline competition, although China has emerged as the dominant force in recent times - with Lu Chunlong and He Wenna taking gold in the men's and women's competition respectively at Beijing 2008.

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