Why I Love Gymnastics
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Why I Love Gymnastics

It's more than just a sport.

Why I Love Gymnastics

For a fan of gymnastics, it is now the most wonderful – and simultaneously terrible – time of year, as this week the World Championships are happening in Glasgow, Scotland. Qualifications happened Friday and Saturday, and there were many surprises, from Romania’s disaster to Russia’s consistency and the falls from Olympians Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. These surprises are part of why I love the sport, even if at the same time they are heart-wrenching at times. And that is why, as an avid gymnastics fan, I have reflected on why I love this crazy sport.

Anyone can play baseball, but most people cannot swing bars on the first time. A study even proved that gymnastics is the hardest sport in the world. And yet, gymnasts can make such difficult skills look so effortless. It’s incredible to see how talented these girls are and to know how hard they must have worked to get to that point.

Gymnastics is visually pleasing to watch – when done correctly, of course. It is not merely attention-seeking for a few moments. It's art. While many like to think of the balletic Soviets or Romanians when discussing the beauty of gymnastics, balletic does not necessarily equate artistry. Simone Biles, for instance, is not balletic, but she is certainly artistic in her presentation on the floor exercise that makes her even more captivating to watch.

Gymnastics is also unique for the variety of body types in the sport. There are athletes such as Flavia Saraiva of Brazil, who are shorter than the vaulting table, and then there are muscular and taller women such as Sandra Izbasa of Romania. However, both compete at an elite level. These gymnasts are totally different with respect to style and strengths and weakness, but they are still nevertheless gymnasts. This is simply not the case in other sports, where body type dictates whether or not one can do the sport. On a more personal note, these different body types, particularly those toward the more muscular side, have helped me accept my own broad shoulders and ridiculously wide ribcage, as bodies can be vehicles for creating beauty.

Gymnastics has an incredibly rich history, and the evolution of the sport over time is incredible to see. Yes, athletes are stronger and faster than ever before, and gymnastics is no exception. However, looking at routines in each decade from 1950 on, everyone can see how gymnastics has changed over time. Most of this evolution is due to the changes in the code of points, but innovative gymnasts such as the former Soviet Union’s Natalia Yurchenko have created new trends in the sport that we still see today. It is certainly debatable whether or not this is a good thing, but nevertheless the evolution is fascinating.

And of course, I love the sport for the reasons everyone loves sports, as in sports, we can see the best in humanity. We see the beautiful friendships that emerge out of the love for the sport. We see the determined fight after a huge loss, such as Aliya Mustafina after she tore her ACL in 2011 and then won four Olympic medals in 2012. And of course, gymnastics can function as a unifying factor in such a polarized world.

Gymnastics, to me, is more than just a sport. It’s art. It’s culture. It’s history. Most importantly, however, it’s humanity.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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