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Gymnastics 101: Competition format

Kohei Uchimura pommel horse London 2012
USA Today Sports

Gymnastics 101: Competition format

Learn more about the competition format of Olympic gymnastics.

QUALIFICATION

Who
All 196 gymnasts (98 men and 98 women) compete in the qualification phase of Olympic competition.

What
Scores from the qualification phase are used to determine the following:

  • The eight nations that will compete in the men's team final, and the eight nations that will compete in the women's team final.
  • The 24 men and 24 women who will compete in the individual all-around finals (maximum two per nation).
  • The eight gymnasts who will compete in each apparatus final (maximum two per nation).
  • Individual all-around ranking, places 25 and lower.
  • Team ranking, places nine through 12.

When
Men's qualifying is on Saturday, Aug. 6 and women's on Sunday, Aug. 7.

How it works
Teams use four of their five members on each apparatus, with the top three scores counting toward a team's score for the apparatus. The same four athletes do not have to be used on all apparatus.

Gymnasts perform one routine on each apparatus on which they compete during the qualification round. The exception is vault, where anyone attempting to qualify for the vault final performs two different vaults. (If the athlete chooses to do two vaults, the score from the first vault counts toward the team and all-around qualification and the average of the two vaults counts toward qualifying to the vault event final.)

Any athlete attempting to qualify for the all-around must perform on every apparatus (four for women, six for men). If a gymnast's final score is among the top 24, he or she qualifies for the all-around final, unless two teammates are ranked higher.

 

TEAM FINALS



Sam Mikulak London 2012

Sam Mikulak exchanges congratulations with John Orozco during the men's team final at the 2012 London Olympics Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Who
The eight best nations from the qualification round advance to each team final.

What
The team finals determine the best men's and women's team.

When
The men's team final will be contested on Monday, Aug. 8 with the women's team final on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

How it works
Unlike qualification, where four gymnasts performed and the best three scores were counted, the team final is conducted under the "three-up, three-count" format: teams choose three gymnasts to compete on each event, and all three scores count toward the team's total. Scores start from zero (the results of the qualifying competition do not carry over).

During the men's team final, only two apparatus are in use at a given time. Each team goes from event to event in Olympic order (floor, pommel, rings, vault, parallel bars, high bar), although it may start on any apparatus. There are several "bye" rotations, but the competition moves quickly, as one rotation consists of only six routines (three per team on each of two events).

During the women's team final, only two apparatus are in use at a given time. Each team goes from event to event in Olympic order (vault, uneven bars, beam, floor), although it may start on any apparatus. There are several "bye" rotations, but the competition moves quickly, as one rotation consists of only six routines (three per team on each of two events).

 

ALL-AROUND FINALS



Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas moves to her next rotation in the all-around final at the 2012 London Olympics. Credit: IOC

Who 
The top 24 athletes (maximum: two per country) from the qualification round

What 
The individual all-around final crowns the best overall male and female gymnasts. Scores from all six events are added together to determine the champions.

When
The men's all-around final will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 10 and the women's all-around final on Thursday, Aug. 11.

How it works
Scores from the qualification round do not carry over to the individual all-around final. In this competition, all entrants perform one routine on each apparatus.

In the men's all-around, the 24 qualified athletes are divided into four groups of six. The top six qualifiers begin on floor, qualifiers seven through 12 begin on pommel horse, qualifiers 13 through 18 begin on rings, and qualifiers 19 through 24 begin on vault. After each rotation, the athletes move to the next event according to Olympic order so that in the sixth and final rotation, the top six qualifiers compete on high bar (and the top qualifier competes last of those six).

In the women's all-around, the 24 qualified athletes are divided into four groups of six. The top six qualifiers begin on vault, qualifiers seven through 12 begin on floor, qualifiers 13 through 18 begin on uneven bars, and qualifiers 19 through 24 begin on balance beam. After each rotation, the athletes move to the next event according to Olympic order so that in the fourth and final rotation, the top six qualifiers are competing on floor (the top qualifier on floor competes last of those six).

The scores from each exercise are added together, and the gymnast with the highest total is crowned the individual all-around champion.

 

APPARATUS FINALS



Yang Hak Seon vault

South Korea's Yang Hak-Seon compete in the vault final at the 2012 London Olympics. Credit: USA Today Sports

Who
The top eight scorers on each apparatus from the qualification round advance to the respective final, with a limit of two gymnasts per country.

What
The final phase of Olympic gymnastics competition consists of apparatus finals, also called event finals.

When
The apparatus finals will be spread over three days. Men's floor and pommel horse and women's vault and uneven bars will be held on Sunday, Aug. 14th. Men's rings and vault and women's balance beam will be held on Monday, Aug. 15th. On Aug. 16th, men's horizontal bar and parallel bars and women's floor will be contested.

How it works
The starting order for each apparatus will be decided by random draw. As is the case in the individual all-around final, no scores are carried over from qualifying. For all apparatus except vault, competitors perform one exercise. In the men's and women's vault, two different vaults must be performed and the two vault scores are averaged. 

Gymnastics 101

Learn more about gymnastics:

Basics | Competition format | Scoring | Qualification | Venue | Equipment | Apparatus | Glossary | Olympic History

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