If you were going to remove one event from the men’s program, which would it be?
In 1969, vault in men’s artistic gymnastics was a major sticking point. Gymnasts were performing the same vault over and over, and some thought that the hand zones were pointless. At an FIG coaches’ meeting, some even thought that the apparatus should be eliminated.
Has the balance beam always been 10 cm wide? When did balance beams start having padding? When did the uneven bars start having tension cables? How far apart were the bars in 1989? Have the landing mats always been 20 cm thick?
The cheat sheet below gives you the basic contours of the ever-changing apparatus norms.
During the women’s all-around at the Sydney Olympics, the vault was set 5 cm too low. Multiple gymnasts vaulted on a horse set at 120 cm when it should have been set at 125 cm. As a result, several gymnasts fell, including the favorite for the all-around title, Svetlana Khorkina.
During the third rotation’s warmup, Allana Slater insisted that something was wrong, and eventually, the vault was raised to the correct height (125 cm). After the competition, Kym Dowdell, the competition manager, issued a statement:
“Unfortunately, equipment personnel failed to set the vault at the appropriate height.”
Qtd in. International Gymnast, November 2000
But how? How do equipment personnel fail to set the vault correctly?
That’s the question that the gymnastics community has been asking for over two decades.
Well, I have a hypothesis. It has to do with the apparatus norms that were printed in 2000.