History of Women in





Before 1800

The name was derived from the word gymnos, which is the Greek word for naked because the men generally trained and competed naked. As a result of the nudity, women were not originally allowed to participate in the sport.


5000 B.C.- Acrobats entertained the nobility of Egypt.

2700 B.C.- On the island of Crete, acrobats vaulted over the backs of bulls.

500 B.C.- Gymnastics reached a peak of interest in Sparta as a result of gymnastics incorporating exercises that improved both physical fitness as well as discipline for their military. Unlike most other city-states, women also took part in gymnastics in Sparta because women needed strong bodies so that they could bear children. Most exercises were conducted to music like the floor exercise of modern gymnastics.

31 B.C- 476 A.D.- Romans also incorporated gymnastics into training for the soldiers. However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the knowledge of physical fitness seemed to have been lost

500-1450- During the Medieval time period, acrobatics survived by acrobats traveling and showcasing their tumbling skills.

1793- Johann Friedrich Gustmuths published a book called Gymnastics for the Young, which was a manual for physical education teachers.


1811- Frederich Ludwig Jahn was a gymnastics teacher who set up a gym or turnplatz near Berlin. Jahn is credited with developing three apparatus’s that are still used in gymnastics today. These include: the high bar, the parallel bars and the rings. He called the gymnasts turners.

1830- In France, there were reports of uneven bars.

1852- After unrest in Germany, 252,000 Germans immigrated to the United States. It is believed that of these immigrants, there were turners who influenced the development of gymnastics in America.

1881- The European Gymnastics Federation was founded and included only three European countries.


1906- At the interim Games in Greece, a gymnastics demonstration was given by a Danish women.

1914- Women’s athletic competition was officially opposed by the American Olympic Committee, with the only exception being the floor exercise in which women were allowed to wear long skirts.

1921- The European Gymnastics Federation was reorganized into its present form as the International Gymnastics Federation when non-European countries joined.

1928- Team Gymnastics and Track and Field were opened to women at the Summer Olympics along with three other events. There were stipulations that women’s shorts were no more that four inches above their knees.

1931- The first US All-Around Gymnastics Championship was won by Roberta C. Ranck

1934- The Women’s Artistic Gymnastics World Championship was held for the first time. Men and women’s gymnastics were and still are quite different with separate apparatuses, techniques and competitions.

1936- At the Berlin Games, gymnastics for women was added to the Olympic program. Two years after the uneven bars appeared at the first World Championship in Budapest, women competed on uneven bars in the Berlin Olympics.

1952- Individual gymnastics was introduced, rather than strictly team gymnastics. The 1952 Olympics was the first Olympics in which women were allowed to compete as individuals in the four apparatus program - vault, uneven bars, beam and floor.

1956- A Ukranian native, Larissa Latynina won the all around title, three gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal in gymnastics at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

1960- While three months pregnant, Larissa Latnynina won three gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal at the Rome Olympics.

1964- Larissa Latynina retired from gymnastics with more medals than any other athlete in history. She won nine gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals.

1973- The first American to win the gymnastics title and an Olympic gold was Marcia Frederick.

1984- The first ever all around Gymnastics title for the US was won by sixteen year old Mary Lou Retton.

1991- Kim Zmeskal became the first female American to win an all-around world championship in gymnastics.

1995- Dominque Mocceanu became the youngest athlete to win the National Gymnastics Championship all-around title at age thirteen.

1999- Trampolining was one of the sixteen new women’s events added to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.


2003- The US gymnastics team won the World Gymnastics Championship with a young and injured team.

2004- Carly Patterson and Courtney Kupets shared the U.S. Gymnastics Championship title with a score of 76.45.

2004- At the Olympic games, Romania won gold, the U.S. won silver and Russia won bronze.

2005- Dominique Dawes was inducted into the US Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

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