First Olympic Appearance: 1984
by Gerry Brown and Mark Zurlo
While mainstream or artistic gymnastics is performed on an apparatus like the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor, rhythmic gymnastics, a strictly female event, is performed with an apparatus. The five disciplines in rhythmic gymnastics, once called modern gymnastics, are rope, hoop, ball, ribbon, and clubs. The competitors use graceful balletic moves and manipulate the various apparatus in conjunction with their bodies and music on a 13-meter square floor area. Rhythmic gymnastics is one of two women-only events in the Olympics (the other is synchronized swimming).
In London, in the individual competition, the gymnasts will perform to music with the hoop, ball, clubs, or ribbon. In the group competition one routine with five ribbons and a routine with three hoops and two balls will be performed.
The gymnasts are expected to use the entire floor area in their routines and their work with the apparatus should be balanced between each hand equally. The apparatus is also supposed to stay in constant motion or points will be deducted. There are three separate panels of judges, one each for the three different elements of the performance. One panel takes into account the degree of difficulty in a routine, another considers the choreography and artistry, and the third evaluates how well the routine was executed and how many technical mistakes were made.
The rhythmic gymnastics competition in London will be held at the Wembley Arena, also the home of the badminton competition.