The Uneven Bars
Also known as the ‘A- bars’ or ‘asymmetric bars’. The bars are set at different heights and the gymnast can change how far apart they are to suit her needs – the maximum width is 180cm. The low bar is 170cm high, and the high bar is 250cm high. The bars are made out of fibreglass so that they don’t break. Handguards and chalk are often used on the bar to protect gymnast’s hands from ‘rips’ or blisters caused by friction. If a gymnast falls off the bars during a routine in a competition, they only have 30 seconds to get back on. Swinging and continuous movements in both directions – above and below the bars – are required. Top gymnasts will include twists, somersaults, multiple grip changes and high flight together with a spectacular dismount to end the routine.
The beam is just 10cm wide, 1.25 metres high, and 5 metres long. A routine on the beam should show an artistic combination of acrobatic skills, gymnastic leaps, jumps, turns, step and running combinations, waves and balance elements in standing, sitting and lying positions. The gymnast should use the entire length of the beam, demonstrating elegance, flexibility, rhythm, balance, confidence and control. The beam routine can last up to 1minute 30seconds.
The vault is a “table” which is padded and slightly springy, and is set at 1.25 metres high (the height is lower for non-elite gymnasts). The vaulting table is placed length-ways for both men and women. The run up to the vault is very important to help the gymnast generate the lift and height they need to perform the skill . Gymnasts usually only perform one vault, and the judges award a value according to its difficulty. The height, length and execution of the skill are judged, together with the controlled landing – any hops, steps or falls will lose the gymnast valuable points.
The floor measures 12 metres by 12 metres, with an additional safety border of 1 metre. Female gymnasts perform a choreographed routine up to 90 seconds long to a piece of music which does not typically include vocals. Their routines must include tumbling, jumps, dance movements, acrobatic skills and turns and use the whole of the floor area. Individuality, originality and artistry of presentation are key ingredients for a high score.