FIG logo

How Women’s Artistic competition works - Olympic Games

 
Publication date : 03/12/2014

Women’s Artistic gymnasts perform four routines during the course of a competition, on four different apparatus: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise. Each apparatus tests different physical characteristics: Vault is about speed and explosiveness, Uneven Bars upper body strength, Balance Beam balance and mental toughness, and Floor Exercise both endurance and expressiveness.

Types of competition

There are three types of competition in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics:

1.    Team competition

At the Olympic Games, teams are composed of five gymnasts, and are often composed of both All-around gymnasts (gymnasts who compete on all four events) and event specialists (gymnasts who are very good on one or more apparatus.)

In the qualifying round of the team competition, of the five gymnasts on each team, four will perform on a given event, with the best three scores per event counting toward the team total. (This is often referred to as 5-4-3.)

In team finals, of the five gymnasts on each team, only three compete on each event, and all three scores count toward the team total (5-3-3.) The pressure is on in team finals, as any mistakes will end up costing the team.

USA wins 2012 Olympic team competition

2.    All-around competition

In an All-around competition, each gymnast performs on all four apparatus. The gymnast with the highest combined score over the four events wins. The 24 gymnasts with the highest overall scores from the qualification round advance to the All-around final.

2012 Olympic All-around champion Gabby Douglas (USA)

3.    Event finals competition

This is the moment where the apparatus specialists get to shine. The best eight gymnasts on each apparatus advance to the final on each apparatus.

2012 London Olympic Vault final

The two-per-country rule

A maximum of two gymnasts from each country can compete in the All-around and event finals. Scores never carry over from the qualification round – each gymnast or team starts with a clean slate in the final.

Romania's Sandra Izbasa and Catalina Ponor at London 2012

What if there’s a tie?

In case of a tie in the finals at the Olympic Games, the following methods will be applied, in the following order, to break it:

Team competition:

  1. The team score will be broken down into the sum of the scores on each apparatus, generating an apparatus team score. The top three best apparatus scores per team will be added together and compared. Top score wins. If that still doesn’t break the tie, the two best apparatus scores per team will be added together and compared. This process will be repeated down to the single best apparatus score if necessary.
  2. If the teams still remain tied, the tie will not be broken.

Aliya Mustafina (RUS) and Aly Raisman (USA) during London 2012 All-around final

All-around competition:

  1. Each gymnast’s best three scores will be added together and compared. Top score wins.
  2. Each gymnast’s four Execution scores will be added up and compared.
  3. Each gymnast’s four Difficulty scores will be added up and compared.
  4. If they still remain tied, the tie will not be broken.

Event finals competition:

  1. The gymnast with the highest Execution score will prevail.
  2. The gymnast with the highest Difficulty score will prevail.
  3. If they still remain tied, the tie will not be broken.

A note on Vault

Vault is the only apparatus where a gymnast performs two routines to qualify for the event final. The two vaults must be of different styles, (for example, a vault where the gymnast flips backwards onto the table and a vault where the gymnast flies forward off the springboard).

Gymnasts only perform one vault in the All-around final, but also do two in the event final. Scores from both vaults are averaged together in the qualification and event final to generate the final score.

In case of a tie on Vault, the following methods will be applied, in the following order, to break it:

  1. The gymnast with the highest score on either vault will prevail.
  2. The highest Execution score from either vault will prevail.
  3. The highest Difficulty score from either vault will prevail.
  4. If there is still a tie, it will not be broken.