The performer stands elegantly, waiting for the background music to play. The hair is in a bun, face adorned with make-up, she holds a ribbon (or a prop) in her hands. It’s arguably the most beautiful sport in the world, no wonder it’s called “The Princess of All Sports” for its grace and elegance. Stuck in the shadow of its popular cousin, gymnastics, it’s an unknown and under-appreciated sport but a unique sport combining elegance and beauty of a dancer with strength and coordination of an athlete.
There are inevitable debates about why certain events are deemed a sport. What qualifies as a sport? Rhythmic gymnastics is best known for its costumes, music and make-up—but don’t underestimate its athletes. Why choose Rhythmic Gymnastics? The ribbon-dancing thing, or the one with the ball, the hoop, and the clubs. The sport is so incredible and dynamic. The performers have jaw dropping flexibility, in addition to coordination, strength and above all grace!! All these come through painful, exhausting strengthening exercises, kicking, extending, holding their bodies in different positions, trying to target and strengthen every muscle. A spectator probably will not realize the effort that goes into this sport.
Rhythmic gymnastics is an official Olympic event in which gymnasts compete with 5 different apparatuses—hoops, ribbons, balls, ropes, and clubs—as well as in a floor routine. and it lasts just for 90 seconds. That’s the time gymnasts have to prove themselves under the unwavering gaze of the judges. Despite the glitter and smiles, there’s no messing around in this sport. And as any sport, Rhythmic Gymnastics teaches discipline, team work, respect, setting and achieving goals, self-confidence and more.
As a sport it began in 1940s and first World Championships for individual rhythmic gymnasts was held in 1963 in Budapest, and in the year 1984 it was added as an Olympic discipline. Olympic rhythmic gymnastics is only for female participants. So far, the sport has been dominated by Eastern European countries, erstwhile Soviet Union and Bulgaria. The two countries were in rivalry with each other before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
At its best, this is what you can expect to see from rhythmic gymnastics: peerless artistry, jaw-dropping choreography, and unreal body control. Yana Kudravtseva, youngest rhythmic gymnastics world champion says – Absorbed in the world of rhythmic gymnastics, it’s easy to forget the sport that controls my life is just ribbons and rhinestones to everyone else.