Gymnasts And Their Training
The ideal body type for gymnastics is short and light. Gymnastics skills require great strength and flexibility, as well as balance and explosive power. Ages and sizes of competitive gymnasts have been decreasing progressively as their selection and training has become more demanding. The two top female gymnasts in the 1992 Olympics were 15 years old, 137 centimetres (4 feet, 6 inches) tall, and one weighed 31.7 kilograms (70 pounds) and the other 31.3 kilograms (69 pounds).
To produce the strength, flexibility, and power essential for competitive gymnastics requires long hours of strenuous practice, and training procedures are designed to develop not only these physical qualities but also the great courage required to perform intrinsically dangerous movements (1).
In socialist societies such as the former Soviet Union, other Eastern European countries, China, and Cuba, young children selected on the basis of body type and other physical attributes were given opportunities to develop into competitive gymnasts through participation in state-supported training facilities (2) and special schools. In countries such as the United States, the development of young gymnasts has been carried out in schools and organisations such as Turners, Sokols, and YMCAs. However, the intensity and level of work required to produce elite gymnasts today is available only in private training facilities, usually paid for by parents. Recognising the financial cost of these private facilities, USA Gymnastics initiated a programme of stipends paid to a small number of the most talented young gymnasts to offset their training costs. Male gymnasts tend to maintain and even improve performances beyond the peak age for female gymnasts, and their training may continue during college years with the support of athletic scholarships. Collegiate gymnastics is also available for females, but today college-age women are generally considered too old to be involved in the highest level of the sport. One of the most important contributions to the development of gymnastics in the United States was the establishment of the USGF Junior Olympics programme, which provides compulsory exercises and guidelines for several levels of age-group competition for both girls and boys.
(1) intrinsically dangerous movements – связанные с большим риском
(2) state-supported training facilities – государственные спортивные базы
с) Answer the following questions. If necessary, look through the text again:
1. What is the ideal body type for a gymnast?
2. What quality do gymnastics skills require?
3. Why have age and size of competitive gymnasts been decreasing?
4. How are the strength, flexibility, and power, essential for competitive gymnastics, produced?
5. How were young gymnasts selected in socialist societies?
6. How are young gymnasts selected in the USA?
7. Where are elite gymnasts trained in the USA?
8. What was one of the most important contributions to the development of gymnastics in the United States?
9. What does the USYF Junior Olympic programme provide?
Task IX. Read the text without the help of a dictionary
The origin of gymnastics can be traced back to the ancient civilisations of China, Persia, India and Greece.
Most of the current competitive exercises may be attributed to the German, Jahn, but the ancient civilisations practised the sport. The Chinese had mass displays of free exercises, as they do at present, and both the Persians and the Indians followed a strict code of physical exercise. But it was the Greeks who really started to modernise the sport.
The distinguished physician, Galen, provided some of the earliest literature on the sport and showed how knowledgeable the Greeks were about its fundamentals. Activities like rope-climbing were included in the ancient Olympic Games and, with the rise of the Roman Empire, the Greek method of physical culture spread.
Among the events the Romans introduced was the wooden horse on which they practised mounting and dismounting. Most of the exercises were used for military preparation, but when the ancient Olympic Games were abolished the sport fell into decline for nearly 1,500 years.
It was revived initially by men like Muth, Salzman, and Ling.
Modern gymnastics is a mixture of both schools – the beauty of the floor exercises routines being balanced by the rugged power needed for the rings and parallel bars. But it is fair to say that Jahn was the more influential of the pair, for his Turnplatz, opened in Berlin in 1811, was an open-air gymnasium which started the spread of the sport throughout Europe. Clubs were founded in Britain and a number of schools included physical training in their curriculum. A major event in British gymnastics occurred in 1860 when the army selected 12 NCO's (National Committee officials) and formed them into the Army Gymnastic Staff, later the Army Physical Training Corps. The Army, realising after the Crimean War that soldiers needed to be fit, were in the forefront of the expansion of the sport in Britain. The leading clubs joined in 1890 to form the Amateur Gymnastic Association and the first championship was in 1896 – the year of the first modern Olympic Games.
After World War II, and especially since the early 1960s, gymnastics has grown phenomenally in the United States. Much of this growth has been due to the greatly increased coverage of gymnastics on television, and especially to the Olympic performances of Olga Korbut in 1972 and Nadia Comaneci in 1976.
International gymnastics competition before World War II was dominated by Western European countries. Except for the anomalous 1904 Games in St. Louis, Americans did not participate in Olympic gymnastics until 1920. With the entrance of the Soviet Union into Olympic competition in 1952 and the rise of Japan as a gymnastics power, the picture changed radically. Over this period, men’s team medals were won by the Soviet Union (10), Japan (9), East Germany (5), China (2), Finland (2), and one each by the United States, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Switzerland. Fewer countries participated in women’s gymnastics during this period and the Soviet Union was even more dominant, winning the team gold medal in all ten Olympic Games in which they participated (Romania won in 1984). Most individual medals were won by the Soviet Union (39.4 per cent) and Japan (30.5 per cent), with others going to China (6.1 per cent), East Germany (4.5 per cent), the United States (3.7 per cent), and 13 other countries (all European except for three medals to the two Koreas, for a total of 15.8 per cent). In the 1996 Olympics Russia won the overall team gold and 5 individual medals; Belarus took 4.
In the 1984 Olympic Games 19 countries were represented (2 entries are allowed per country), and Canada, Romania, and West Germany won the gold, silver, and bronze all-around medals. In both 1988 and 1992, 23 countries were represented, and the Soviet Union (called the Unified Team in 1992) won both the gold and bronze. In 1996 Spain won the team gold, Bulgaria the silver, and Russia the bronze. Modern Gymnastics World Championships have been held since 1963.
1. Which of this topics does the text deal with?
a) the Greek method of training;
b) gymnastics in ancient civilisations;
c) gymnastics declination and revival;
d) Muth, Salzman and Ling;
f) men’s gymnastics;
g) major event in British gymnastics;
h) development of gymnastics in Great Britain and the USA;
i) rhythmic gymnastics.
2. Write down the themes found in the text in the order corresponding to the context of the text. You will get the outline of the text.
3. Divide the whole text into fragments corresponding to the items of the outline. Mind that a fragment may be equal to a paragraph or sometimes embrace several paragraphs.
4. Reread paragraphs 1–3 and find the gymnastics event that was included in the ancient Olympics.
5. Find sentences proving that modern gymnastics is a mixture of schools.
6. Reread paragraph 7. Find sentences proving that the influence of the gymnasts from the Soviet Union on the International gymnastics was considerable.
7. Reproduce the contents of the text using answers to the following questions. If necessary, look through the text again:
1. Did ancient civilisations practise gymnastics? 2. Who started to modernise the sport? 3. Who showed how knowledgeable the Greeks were about gymnastics fundamentals? 4. What events were introduces by the Romans? 5. What period did gymnastics fall into decline for? 6. Who revived gymnastics? 7. What is the first major work on gymnastics? 8. Who made the major contribution to gymnastics? 9. What events were invented by Jahn? 10. How did Turnplatz look? 11. When were gymnastics cubs founded in Berlin? 12. When did gymnastics grow phenomenally in the United States? 13. What has this growth been due to? 14. What countries dominated in gymnastics before World War II in? 15. When did the picture radically change in gymnastics? 16. Since when have modern gymnastics World championships been held?
Task X. Look through the text and say what kind of information it contains. What achievements of Belarusian gymnasts does the author pay special attention to? Indicate the corresponding paragraphs.
Belarusian gymnasts are traditionally very successful at Olympic Games. Nikolai Miligulo from Minsk was the first Belarusian to represent the state in this Olympic event. He won the silver team medal at the XVII Olympics in Rome. Helen Volchetskaya was the first of the female gymnasts to open the Olympics. She won a gold medal in women’s team competition in Tokyo. Larisa Petric made an excellent showing at the Mexico Olympics. She returned home with three prizes for the first places in a team contests and floor exercises and the third prize for winning the beam.
A really fantastic at the XX Olympic Games in Munich was the performance of Olga Korbut. She did some particularly complicated parts on the beam and uneven bars which have now become specific terms bearing her name – “Korbut somersault”, “Korbut back flip”, etc. One of her horse vaults has remained unique because no other gymnast has ever done it. In Montreal she won a gold medal in women’s team competition and silver medal at asymmetric bars.
Concerning the Belarusian school of gymnastics, one should note that it is constantly in advance. Some athletes quit the podium, others step into their shoes. There are too many of them to be named. But one just cannot imagine Belarusian gymnastics without Antonina Koshel who became a gold medallist at the 20th Olympics for team victory or Tamara Lazakovich who at the same games took four prizes, one of them being gold. These girls largely contributed to the enhancing of the glory of Soviet sport.
After that came Nelly Kim. Her superb skill was marked with five Olympic titles. Besides she became the all-round world champion.
When on the podium, she never looked down in the mouth. She knew how to smile even when she was sick at heart and felt like crying. It is not without reason that journalists nicknamed her a “girl of iron”.
A certain episode comes to mind. As Nelly was doing her optional programme (floor exercises) at the Moscow Olympics the music suddenly began to “wow”. And it happened shortly after starting. The sound gradually died away. The hall became unusually quiet.
With a charming smile (as if nothing were really happening) Nelly stopped and waited for the music to recommence. Starting her combination all over again, she did it with superb mastery and was deservedly given a high rating – 9.95 points.
At the XXIV Olympic Games in Seoul the USSR national team included two trainees of Belarusian coaches – Svetlana Boginskaya and Svetlana Bayitova.
The good traditions were kept up by a new generation of Belarusian female gymnasts. Despite their youth they had already managed to achieve quite a lot. Here are a few facts from their sporting biographies: Svetlana Boginskaya was born in 1973, Master of Sports International Class. Pupil of a sports boarding school. All-around junior champion (FRG, 1986), team event silver medallist at the World championship and bronze medallist in vault (Netherlands, 1987), many-time winner and title-holder at international contests, silver medallist in beam competition for the National Cup (1988).
Svetlana Bayitova was born in 1972. Master of Sports International Class, all-around national champion, 1986, silver medallist at the USSR National Championship, 1987, many-time winner and prize-holder at National Championships in separate team events, won silver in team events at the 1987 World championship.
Olga Bicherova, the 1981 all-around world champion describes Bayitova in this way: “She shows virtuosity and has a unique programme on the bars”.
A. Neverovich, director of the gymnastics school which S. Boginskaya attended:
“Boginskaya is very hardworking and diligent, she possesses great untapped reserves that can yet be used for further development. At the same time, the girl has an uneven temper, so one should handle her with care”.
Upon winning the gold medal in the team event Svetlana Boginskaya continued to contend for more prizes. In the all-round world championship contest she picked up bronze, being second only to her team mate Yelena Shushunova and Rumanian Daniel Silivash. On the closing day of the gymnastics performance, she added another gold medal to her collection. She gained it in the finals at the apparatus, superbly executing a vault. Her floor exercises brought her silver.
How was her success assessed by the experts? Here is the opinion of Leonid Arkayev, the gymnastics department chief of the USSR Sports Committee:
“Svetlana has lived up to our expectations, we never suspected she could challenge the leaders – Shushunova and Silivash. I believe that this young woman from Minsk is our happy Olympic find”.
The Olympic champion Victor Klimenko:
“In this tough struggle Svetlana never lost her presence of mind, she displayed her best qualities – will-power, plasticity and grace of movements. Her programme is no less complicated than that shown by the leaders. At the XXV Olympic Games Svetlana Boginskaya won a gold medal again. But a real hero of the Olympic Game was Vitali Shcherbo who won 6 gold medals”.
1. Reread paragraph 1 and state its main theme. Which sentence gives very briefly the most important information and thus can be called the key sentence of the paragraph?
2. Reread paragraph 2–4. What theme connects them?
3. Find the sentence explaining why the journalists nicknamed Nelly Kim a “girl of iron”.
4. Read the facts from Svetlana Boginskaya and Svetlana Bayitova's sporting biographies.
5. Divide the text into fragments and entitle them.
6. Write an annotation of the text. Make use of such expressions as “to deal with, to emphasise, to be devoted to”. The first sentence can reflect the general character of the text. Take into consideration the title. The other 3 or 4 sentences should reflect the main themes of the fragments.
Task XI. Read the text.
Rhythmic gymnastics is a separate type of gymnastics competition. In rhythmic gymnastics, gymnasts perform a dance routine while executing manoeuvres and stunts with a piece of hand-held equipment. The equipment may be a ball, club, hoop, ribbon, or rope. Rhythmic gymnasts perform on a mat similar to the one used in floor exercise competition. The routines are performed to music and last from 60 to 90 seconds. Contestants are judged on their grace and the difficulty of their manoeuvres, including the skill with which they release and catch the equipment. In 1984, rhythmic gymnastics became an event at the summer Olympic Games.
Rhythmic gymnastics is a combination of gymnastics and ballet.
It was in the USSR that rhythmic gymnastics as an independent form of sports was born. A higher school of plastic movements was opened in Leningrad in 1934, attached to the Lesgaft Physical Training Institute: although there had been many plastic movement studios earlier. One of the teachers was Zinaida Verbova, the pioneer of rhythmic gymnastics, formerly a well-known dancer.
The conditions for training being very simple rhythmic gymnastics soon attained great popularity. Girls began showing their skill at demonstration contests.
But sport in its very essence implying large-scale contests, in 1947 rhythmic gymnastics was included in the general sports programme. After having given sporting stimulus in addition to aesthetic hundred thousands of girls began seriously to go in for rhythmic gymnastics. All arguments about whether rhythmic gymnastics should be regarded as sport having been finished it became very popular in our country. Rhythmic gymnastics means the perfect mastery of various dance elements, the ability to perform complicated turns and leaps, maintain perfect balance and carry out a large variety of acrobatic movements.
Anything new and interesting is always quickly taken up. And this has been the case with rhythmic gymnastics. It was enough for the girls to show their art in other countries and this purely Russian type of gymnastics soon became international. The first World Championship in 1963 in Budapest gave Soviet gymnasts a double victory.
The first Belarusian Olympic Champion in rhythmic gymnastics became Marina Lobach in Seoul.
Marina was not a greenhorn when she went in Seoul. Her sporting biography was highly presentable: a many-time winner of the National Cup, the 1988 all-round champion of the country, the 1988 World and European champion in individual rhythmic gymnastics events and what she did on the mat in Seoul was nothing short of a miracle. Each of her performances was acclaimed with a storm of applause and the judges gave Marina’s virtuosity the 10.0 point rating.
I. Divide the text into fragments in accordance with their contents. Entitle each fragment.
II. Using the material of the paragraphs and your own knowledge of rhythmic gymnastics answer the following questions:
1. What is rhythmic gymnastics?
2. What do gymnasts do in this sport?
3. How are the routines performed in rhythmic gymnastics?
4. How are contestants judged in rhythmic gymnastics?
5. When did rhythmic gymnastics become an event in the Summer Olympic Games?
6. When did the sport begin?
7. Where was rhythmic gymnastics as an independent form of sports born?
8. Who is considered the pioneer of rhythmic gymnastics?
9. Why did rhythmic gymnastics attain great popularity?
10. Who is the first Belarusian Olympic Champion in rhythmic gymnastics?
III. Give the main points of the history of rhythmic gymnastics.
Жулкевская, Г. В. Gymnastics=Гимнастика : учеб. пособие по англ. яз. для студентов II курса БГУФК / Г. В. Жулкевская; Бел. гос. ун-т физ. культуры. – 2-е изд. – Мн.: БГУФК, 2005. – 31 с.
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