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Competitive sport in which individuals perform optional and prescribed acrobatic exercises, mostly on special apparatus, in order to demonstrate strength, balance, and body control. Part of the ancient Olympic Games, gymnastics was virtually reinvented in the modern era by the German Friedrich Jahn (1778–1852). The sport became part of the revived Olympics in 1896; women's gymnastics was instituted in 1936. Men's events include the horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, vaulting, rings, and floor exercises. Women's events include the balance beam, uneven parallel bars, vaulting, floor exercises, and rhythmic sportive gymnastics.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on gymnastics, visit Britannica.com.