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Introduction

Daniele Hypólito on the balance beam at the 2007 Pan American Games

Gymnastics is a sport that includes exercises requiring balance, strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and endurance. The movements involved in gymnastics contribute to the development of the arms, legs, shoulders, back, chest, and abdominal muscle groups. Alertness, precision, daring, self-confidence, and self-discipline are mental traits that can also be developed through gymnastics. Gymnastics evolved from exercises used by the ancient Greeks that included skills for mounting and dismounting a horse, and from circus performance skills.

The most common form of competitive gymnastics is artistic gymnastics which consists of (for women) floor, vault, beam and uneven bars and for men floor, vault, rings, pommel, parallel bars and horizontal bar. Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) is the governing body for gymnastics worldwide. FIG governs eight sports that include: "Gymnastics for All, Men's and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Trampoline - including Double Mini-trampoline and Tumbling -, Aerobics, Acrobatics, and Parkour." Disciplines not currently recognized by FIG include wheel gymnastics, aesthetic group gymnastics, men's rhythmic gymnastics, TeamGym and mallakhamba.

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Artistic Gymnastics is a discipline of gymnastics. Competitive gymnasts perform short routines (ranging from approximately 30 to 90 seconds) on different apparatus, with less time for vaulting (see lists below). Artistic gymnastics has become a popular spectator sports at the Summer Olympic Games, and in numerous other competitive environments. The related discipline of general gymnastics is geared more towards participation for fun and fitness, rather than competition, and attracts a respectable number of participants including retired gymnasts.

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Alicia Sacramone performs on the balance beam at the 2008 U.S. National Championships in Boston, MA.
Alicia Marie Sacramone (born December 3, 1987) is an American retired artistic gymnast. Sacramone began gymnastics at the age of eight, started competing in the elite ranks in 2002, and joined the U.S. national team in 2003. At the USA Gymnastics National Championships from 2004 to 2008, she won twelve medals, including four golds on vault and two golds on floor exercise. At the World Championships from 2005 to 2007, she won seven medals, including a floor exercise gold in 2005 and a team gold in 2007. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she won a team silver medal. In 2010, Sacramone made a comeback by winning the National Championship on vault. Later in 2010 at the World Championships, she won the world title on vault as well. Her gold gave her a total of nine medals overall, joining Shannon Miller and Nastia Liukin as the U.S. athletes with the most medals at the gymnastics world championships, until the US team won gold in the team finals at the 2011 World Championships. Though she was injured and could not compete, she still received a medal as an official member of the U.S. team, earning her tenth world medal and making her the most decorated U.S. gymnast in the history of the World Championships. Sacramone was noteworthy for supportive leadership of her teammates as well as outspoken remarks in interviews.

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A group of rhythmic gymnasts posing with hoops and clubs.

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