The Sportlight – Gymnastics

In an effort to bring club sports into the spotlight, I will be writing a weekly column about some of the underrated club sports teams at Ohio University. This week’s sport: Gymnastics.

A brief history:  In an article from, gymnastics was originated in the early Greek civilization.  During that time, events included swimming, wrestling, weight lifting, and running, all separate events today.  Eventually, the interest in gymnastics died down, but the element of tumbling remained a form of entertainment.  Gymnastics was introduced to the Olympics in 1896 as solely a men’s sport; in 1936, a women’s section of the sport was added.

I remember doing gymnastics as a kid; in fact, my fifth birthday was at the local gymnastics center.  I never really got into it, though, and eventually made the transition into figure skating.  While traveling to Lancaster last Tuesday to watch the OU Gymnastics Team, I thought to myself, “How much more different could gymnastics be versus skating?  We both make up programs and compete.  We both wear sparkly outfits and the judging system is mostly subjective.”

Gymnastics is very, very different than figure skating.

When I walked into the gym, massive trampolines and giant, blue padded mats, balance beams and massive bars for swinging around and whatnot covered every wall and corner.  It was candy land.

Feeling out of place, and overdressed in a blue oxford and khaki pants, I found a place on one of the giant mats, that practically sucked me into it altogether, and began talking to the girls.

There are 20 on the team.  For some girls, like president Candice Szymanski, gymnastics has been apart of their lives since they were young.  She explained to me the team typically travels to Miami, OSU, and Virginia Tech but there are competitions in California, Maine and Florida.  Unlike synchronized skating, there aren’t divisions.  The girls get to pick which events they want to do and at the end of the competition, while competing against each other individually, they receive an overall score for Ohio University.

I was mostly amazed at how strong and talented they were.  Their floor programs contained elements showing off their skill and also had to be dramatic and theatrical.  Being able to do backhand springs and be that balanced required both upper and lower body strength, focus, and a lot of practice.

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