The benefits of rhythmic gymnastics include the development of physical fitness, coordination, and concentration, along with friendships, team spirit, a sense of community, love of challenge, and most of all, fun!
Rhythmic Gymnastics is considered to be the most beautiful of all competitive sports. Rhythmic Gymnastics is currently performed in official competition by women only. Competitors use small pieces of hand apparatus - Rope, Hoop, Ball, Clubs and Ribbon as an extension of their bodies in routines always accompanied by music.
In 1984, Rhythmic Gymnastics achieved full Olympic status at the Games in Los Angeles. The first ever Olympic Gold Medal in Rhythmic Gymnastics was won by Canada's Lori Fung. The first Canadian to ever win a medal at a Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup was Ontario's Mary Fuzesi in 1990.
More recently, Alexandra Orlando joined Graham Smith (1978, Edmonton), Susie O'Neill (1998, Kuala Lumpur) and Ian Thorpe (2002, Manchester) as the only competitors to win six gold medals at a single Commonwealth Games.
Rhythmic Gymnastics is a unique combination of the best of sport, dance and art. The essence of Rhythmic Gymnastics is self-expression. In the absence of the extremely difficult acrobatic elements used in Artistic Gymnastics, the movements in Rhythmic Gymnastics are elegant, expressive, precise and graceful. Athletes require a full range of flexibility throughout the entire body in addition to explosive power. Both factors combined allow athletes to maintain perfect body alignment in leaps, balances, pirouettes and other intricate body movements. Athletes display coordination and cohesion in their use of the hand apparatus with rhythmic sensibility while taking risks with technical precision. The highest-level competitors take great pride in their original compositions as they appear to become one with the music and the apparatus.
There are two different types of competition in Rhythmic Gymnastics: Individual and Group. In the Group Competition athletes work together as one. They use one of the hand apparatus or a combination of two different pieces (i.e. Ribbons and Hoops). The element of cooperation among the athletes is essential resulting in a breathtaking, harmonious unit.
An additional type of group competition is Aesthetic Group Gymnastics (AGG), in which the gymnasts do not use equipment. In Ontario, at the Red Ribbon Competition, AGG gymnasts perform a creative routine in addition to the more technical Free Routine. The creative routine uses equipment and costumes to extend a theme, set each year by Gymnastics Ontario.