There’s only 10 days to go until the opening of the Summer Olympic Games held in Rio this August: which means it’s nearly time for the world’s best gymnasts to battle it out for the glory of an Olympic title! If you’ve never watched gymnastics before, then now is the time because the standard of international gymnastics is mind-bogglingly high and it continues to reach new heights. Trust me, you’re in for a treat.
To get you in the mood, we’ll be doing a #countdowntoRio this week by featuring some Olympic gymnasts on our website and social media pages. First, here’s a quick guide to how the competition will work and how you can get involved.
How did we even get here?!
- Following the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships held in Glasgow last year, 8 countries qualified teams to the Olympic Team Final (Men’s and Women’s) and a further four were selected after the Test Event in Rio this April.
- Additional places were handed out to the host nation/ those who won individual apparatus medals at the World Championships/ and a further one per country from the all-around competition at the Test Event.
- Team GB had unprecedented success at the World Championships with the Men and Women’s Teams placing second and third respectively, therefore guaranteeing automatic qualification to Rio. A mention also for London based gymnast Ellis Reilly who secured the first and only spot available for an Irish female gymnast – making history in the process!
When to watch?
- On the 6th and 7th August, there will be qualification rounds for men and then the women: these will determine the teams that make it through to the Team Finals (on the 8th and 9th August) and those individual gymnasts who get the highest scores on each apparatus and all-around will make it through to the AA and each apparatus finals.
- On the 10th and 11th August, the top 24 male and then female gymnasts will compete in the All-Around Final. That’s the six pieces for men (floor, vault, P-bars, rings, pommel and high bar) and four for women (floor, vault, beam and A-bars). For all around specialists like Max Whitlock for example, this could mean performing on 18 apparatus within four days so rest, recovery and tactics will all play an important role! To maintain consistency across every apparatus under such pressure really makes the All Around Final so gripping to watch.
- After a break over the weekend, the apparatus finals where the specialists like Louis Smith and Dipa Karmakar steal the stage, are spread across the 14, 15, and 16th August, finishing with perhaps the two most exciting events. The High bar final for men – expect some insane release moves, some splatting and the gorgeous curls of 2012 champ Epke Zonderland (his bars aren’t bad either) – and the Floor final for women – expect grace from Aliya Mustafina, infectious sass from Laurie Hernandez and the tour de force that is Simone Biles (that’s if they all qualify of course :D).
- After the medal ceremonies, where we hope there’s no bees coming to collect pollen from the winners’ bouquets (cough *Nanning* cough), it’ll be time to breathe, drink some champagne and celebrate the incredible gymnastics we’ll have witnessed, and mop up the tears after the inevitable near-misses, injuries and fairytales that will have made the Games so dramatic!
Who to watch?
- The array of talent is remarkable, and you’ll find it hard to miss the Gymnast Stars of Rio gracing our screens: from the dishy Sam Mikulak of the USA to 7-time World Champion and King of Gymnastics Kohei Uchimura; from 2012 Champions Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, to Brazilian sweetheart Flavia Sariava and our very own Claudia Fragapane.
- But, if you want to learn more about some of the gymnasts competing and their fascinating stories of dedication and often disappointment, then head over to our Rio 2016 page where we’ll be doing profiles of ‘Ones to Watch’ as we countdown over the next ten days before the Opening Ceremony.
- Be sure to follow the gymnasts on Facebook, twitter, instagram and other social media platforms to catch behind-the-scenes pics and footage to see what it really is like to compete at an Olympic Games.We’d love to hear from you if you’re watching the gym or even have tickets to go to Rio – tag us in your posts and we’ll share them!
Everyone at OU Gym wishes massive good luck to all the competitors and especially to Team GB.