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My Olympic Love Affair: Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics

Ahmed Khalifa

For me, gymnastics is one of the main events of the games. My earliest memory of the Olympics is when the US womens’ gymnastics team, aka “The Magnificent Seven”, won their first ever team gold in style in Atlanta 1996. The way they won was a historic moment and since then, I have always been fascinated with this event.

Atlanta 1996 USA Gymnast Team
 Apart from a few sessions of trampoline lessons and those uninspiring P.E. lessons in high school, I’ve never really taken up gymnastics seriously as I mainly focused on other sports such as swimming and football. They took up a lot of my time when I was younger as I had regular training and competitions to attend.

The commentary box: gymnastics

I can’t remember a time when I’ve not enjoyed watching the gymnastics at the Olympics, and this year is no different. One of the biggest shocks is when everyone thought the mens’ artistic team won silver but they actually took bronze following an appeal from the Japanese team.

Despite suffering serious injuries before the Olympics, Beth Tweddle recovered and performed admirably on the uneven bars to pick up a bronze medal for Team GB. There was tension in the air when 16-year American, Gabrielle Douglas, won gold in the all-round event beating the Russians, who took silver and bronze: a moment which echoes the Cold War era. It has definitely been eventful!

My Olympic icon...

Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Tweddle had many disappointments in the past: she flopped in Athens 2004 and finished fourth in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. In the build-up to London 2012, she suffered broken ankles, shoulders and cheekbones, all in a bid to be perfect for the event. In fact, it’s a surprise that she was fit at all. Yet despite all of these setbacks, Tweddle recovered and became the first British woman to win an Olympic medal in gymnastic with a bronze, and the oldest woman to win on the uneven bars in 50 years. You can’t fault her passion, commitment and determination to the sport.

Elizabeth Tweddle - Olympics 2012

Meanwhile, at other Olympic venues…

Alongside gymnastics, it’s not the “Olympics” without the track & field events, particularly the 100m, which some people consider as the ultimate event of the Olympics. However, the swimming, rowing, volleyball and cycling have all been very enjoyable and entertaining to watch.

It is amazing to witness Olympic history: despite being only 27 years old, American swimmer Michael Phelps has retired from the competition as the most decorated Olympian ever, with an astonishing 22 medals. It will be a long time until anyone breaks this record (if it’s ever going to happen). Watch this space!

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