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What is an Amanar? And why should gymnastics fans care?

Fourth-Place Medal

McKayla Maroney performs the Amanar. (Getty)

As you watch women's gymnastics competitions during the next week, you will hear the term "Amanar" many, many times. If you don't follow gymnastics all the time, you may have no idea what an Amanar is. Fourth-Place Medal is here to help.

What is it? Named after Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar, it's a laid-out Yurchenko with 2.5 twists. To do it successfully, a gymnast does a round-off onto the springboard, a backhand spring onto the vault, then a flip with 2 1/2 twists with her body completely laid out. As hard as it sounds, it's even harder to perform.

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Who does it? The American team is full of gymnasts who do Amanars. Gabrielle Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman have all done them successfully in competition. McKayla Maroney's won her a world title in vaulting. Russians Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova, and China's Huang Qiushuang also have Amanars.

Why is it such a big deal? Because it is so difficult, it brings in big, big points. In the team competition, three scores count. The Americans having three Amanars for their three vaults can give them a huge cushion in team scores. Maroney aggravated a toe injury early last week, and Team USA was reasonably worried. She's scored higher than 16 multiple times, and a score that big can make a difference in a tight team race.

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