Thursday, 13 November 2008

A Brief History of Vaulting

The first Olympic vault champion was the Soviet gymnast, Ekaterina Kalinchuk. Unfortunatley, I couldn't find any footage of her, or infact, any refrence to her other than she won the medal by 0.1 with a 19.20. She scored a 9.70 in the compulsory vault, and a 9.50 in optionals.

The first vault champion I could find (decent) footage of was Vera Caslavska, a Czech gymnast (who is very well documented, by the way), in 1968:

She scored 9.90 for this vault and won with a total of 19.775
This was her second vault gold, with the first coming in 1964.

In 1976, the vault was won by Nellie Kim. She finished with a score of 19.8, 0.35 ahead of the field including Nadia Comaneci.

I'm sure we can all see the improvement in difficulty between 1968 and 1976.

In 1980, the Soviets won vault again with Natalia Shaposhnikova, who is more well known for her uneven bars element.

At this point in time, gymnasts were allowed two attempts and the best score was taken.

Two years after the olympics came the debut of one of the most famous vaults, the Yurchenko:

This became a staple vault for gymnasts and still is today, all be it with a bit more twisting. In fact, every olympic gold medalist on the vault since 1988 has used a yurchenko vault. In 1988, Sveltlana Boginskaya was the vault champion using Yurchenkos, a tucked full and a straight full. In 2008, Hong Un Jong became vault champion using a 2.5 twisting Yurchenko.

There has been a lot of fuss recently about the Amanar vault. First performed by Simona Amanar at the 2000 Olympics, the Amanar is a 2.5 twisting yurchenko and notriously difficult. Here's its debut:

The yurchenko made the path for other vaults using the round off entry, the Podkopayeva (A roundoff, half on, front pike with a half twist off), the Khorkina (round off, half on, tucked rudi) and more recently the Cheng (roundoff, half on, straight rudi). Here's the most difficult of these, the Cheng:

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