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History

The sport of gymnastics, which gets its name from the ancient Greek word for disciplinary exercises, combines physical skills such as body control, coordination, gracefulness, and strength with tumbling and acrobatic skills. These are all performed in an artistic manner. Gymnastics is performed by both men and women at many levels, from local clubs and schools to colleges and universities, and in elite national and international competitions.

Gymnastics was introduced in early Greek civilization to gain bodily development through a series of exercises. This included running, jumping, swimming, throwing, wrestling, and weight lifting. Many basic gymnastics events were practiced in some form before the introduction by the Greeks of gymnazein, literally, "to exercise naked." Physical fitness was a highly valued attribute in ancient Greece, and both men and women participated in vigorous gymnastic exercises. The Romans developed the activities into a more formal sport. They used the gymnasiums to physically prepare their legions for warfare. With the decline of Rome, however, interest in gymnastics dwindled in size, with tumbling remaining as a form of entertainment.