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A Short History of Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Games

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Throughout Olympic history, artistic gymnastics has taken many forms. Originally, elements of the sport were used to help train military personnel in Europe, so when artistic gymnastics was first included at the 1896 Olympic Games, some unique events were contested. In early Olympic Games, those events included club swinging, rock lifting and climbing.

Changes to the Olympic Gymnastics Program: 1924-1928

By the time the 1924 Olympic Games began, the gymnastics program began to resemble a program that would be recognized by gymnastics fans today. That year, the men's team competition and several modern-day individual events, including the pommel horse and vault, were contested.

In 1927, the International Olympic Committee decided during an October meeting in Lausanne to included women's artistic gymnastics at the Olympic Games. Women made their debut in the sport at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, where only the team event was contested for the ladies. That year, the Netherlands claimed the gold medal in the women's team event. Italy finished second, and Great Britain finished third.

Women's gymnastics disappeared from the Olympic program in 1932 but reappeared in 1936. Women's artistic gymnastics has been part of the Olympic program ever since.

Olympic Artistic Gymnastics: The Event Program Begins to Take Shape

By the time the 1952 Olympics began, the IOC had voted to include women's individual events at the Olympic Games. That year, seven women's events were included, but since 1960, women have competed in six Olympic events. Maria Gorokhovskaya won the first women's all-around title in 1952, and gymnastics legend Larisa Latynina won the same event at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. Both women competed for the Soviet Union.

The men's Olympic program really began to take shape and solidify a little earlier than the women's program. In 1936, the men competed in eight events, and today, the men still compete in a total of eight artistic gymnastics events at the Olympic Games.

Perfection: Nadia Comaneci scores the first Perfect 10 in Artistic Gymnastics

During the 1972 Olympic Games in Montreal, Nadia Comaneci became the first artistic gymnast to ever receive a score of 10.0. She did so on the uneven bars, and at just 14 years old, the Romanian gymnast cemented her place in Olympic history forever.

Under new rules introduced in 2006, Comaneci's feat would have been impossible -- open-ended scoring was introduced that year, and a perfect 10 is no longer the highest score a gymnast can receive.

Gymnastics at the 2012 Olympic Games in London

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the artistic gymnastics competition is scheduled to begin on July 28 and run through Aug. 7. The events are expected to take place at the North Greenwich Arena, and a total of 98 men and 98 women are able to compete for 14 Olympic medals.

Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46.

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