In the late eighteenth century, gymnastics was beginning to evolve into its modern form. The people who drew inspiration from the ancient exercise of the Greek were two Germans who were true pioneers of physical education – Johann Friedrich GutsMaths and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. They created their own set of exercises based on the old version of gymnastics, and even came up with their own apparatus for the sport. The two are considered by most to be the inventors of modern day gymnastics.
Another figure whose name became perhaps the most famous in gymnastics is, of course, Nadia Comăneci. The Romanian born rose to fame due to her dominance of gymnastics competitions in her time. The gifted gymnast not only won five Olympic gold medals, but was also the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in the Olympics.
Since the days of ancient Greece, gymnastics has evolved into one of the most competitive sports we know today, requiring the men and women who practice it strength, agility, flexibility and rhythm. The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique, or FIG for short, is the organization which holds most of the gymnastic competitive events today.
FIG was formed in 1881 in Liege, Belgium, and was a major contributor to the sport’s rising popularity. Gymnastics became so popular, that in 1896 it became part of the first modern Olympics. Each country has a governing body under FIG for their own gymnastic team.
Some of the most prominent gymnastic teams come from countries like Russia, Japan, China, eastern European countries like Romania and Ukraine, and of course, USA. Through the years, these are the countries that dominated in gymnastic competitions around the globe. Many Olympic medallists come from these countries, and are still winning international competitions.
Gymnastic teams have been criticized for using some extreme training methods and having their competitors on severe diets, but the sport remains one of the most popular ones in the world, even today. Gymnasts like Nadia Comăneci are admired and loved as crowds cheer for them to get everything right and literally stick the landing.
But Nadia’s life story hasn’t always been easy, as she faced some serious obstacles to overcome in both her career and her personal life. Along with her rise to fame, she’s had to deal with growing up in one of the most demanding professions today, and it was anything but smooth sailing for the talented gymnast.