Tokyo Olympics: Artistic Gymnastics

  • 01/01/2021

Artistic gymnastics is one of three gymnastics disciplines at the Olympics - the others are rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline.

Men's events were on the original Athens 1896 programme, with women added for Amsterdam 1928.

Men contest floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar, while women compete on floor, vault, uneven bars and beam. Both have individual overall and team titles.

Some of the Olympics' iconic performers have come in artistic gymnastics.

Soviet four-time gold medallist Olga Korbut became the Gymnastics Hall of Fame inaugural inductee for her exploits at Munich 1972. Romanian Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics four years later, winning five gold medals across Montreal 1976 and Moscow 1980.

Mary Lou Retton captured hearts at the Communist-boycotted Los Angeles 1984, becoming the first American all-round champion, while compatriot Simone Biles currently dominates the sport, with four golds at Rio 2016 and 19 world titles over the past eight years.

Historically, the Soviet Union dominated Olympic competition, but since its dissolution in the 1990s, gymnastics has been more widely contested, with USA leading the medal table at Rio.

Russian-born Misha Koudinov represented New Zealand five years ago and will be our sole gymnast at Tokyo. He has competed regularly at world championships since 2007 and has a high bar element named after him.

NZ Team

Misha Koudinov - men’s all-round

Five to Watch

Simone Biles (United States)

Biles, the reigning world and all-around Olympic champion, has continuously stretched the limits of her sport with her explosiveness, power and creativity.

The 24-year-old American, who has won 30 Olympic and world championship medals, claimed four golds at Rio 2016 in one of the most remarkable performances in Olympic history.

Although initially planning to retire after Tokyo, Biles might consider competing at Paris 2024 as an event specialist.

Nikita Nagornyy (Russia)

The 24-year-old Russian enters his second Olympics in peak form, after winning the all-around title at the recent European championships and fulfilling his childhood dream of having an element named after him.

As reigning world champion, Nagornyy is the favourite to win the all-around title in Tokyo. Nagornyy was a silver medallist in the team event at the 2016 Rio Games, but the Russian Olympic Committee's chances of winning gold in the team event for the first time since 1996 will depend on the return of Artur Dalaloyan, who had surgery for a torn Achilles in April.

Nagornyy will represent the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), because Russia was stripped of its flag and anthem at the Games for doping offences.

Simone Biles in action at Rio 2016
Simone Biles in action at Rio 2016. Photo credit: Photosport

Kohei Uchimura (Japan)

Uchimura qualified for his fourth and final Games in a tiebreaker, and is set to end his illustrious Olympic career in his native Japan.

Sometimes called 'King Kohei', Uchimura became the first male gymnast in 44 years to win back-to-back Olympic all-around titles at the 2016 Games, leading Japan to gold in the team event.

The 32-year-old, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, will not compete in the all-around in Tokyo, focusing on the horizontal bar, after being plagued by injuries in recent years.

Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan)

Chusovitina turns 46 later this month, before heading to her eighth Olympics.

Her longevity is stunning in a sport whose brightest stars are young and often retire early because of the gruelling physical demands.

Chusovitina, who is set to break her own record of the most Games for a gymnast, has represented the Soviet Union, the Unified Team and the Commonwealth of Independent States after the Soviet collapse, as well as Germany and Uzbekistan.

Liu Tingting (China)

The 20-year-old Chinese gymnast, who is strong on the balance beam and uneven bars, is set to take part in her first Olympics.

Liu won silver in the balance beam at the last world championships in 2019, before clinching her second consecutive all-around Chinese title last year.

Liu will to lead China in the team event against rivals such as the United States and the Russian Olympic Committee. China won bronze in the team event at the 2016 Games, but Liu did not compete at the time because of a fractured hand.