Trampoline is a relatively new sport to Summer Olympics competition. In London, 16 male and 16 female athletes will showcase their skills flying and twisting through the air while landing on one of two trampolines.
The acrobatic sport has a long history, despite being the newest gymnastics discipline to be added to the Olympic games.
The sport of trampoline began in the 1930s when American physical education professor George Nissen invented the apparatus, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. Nissen took a piece of canvas and attached short bungee cords around the outer edges. The other end of the cords were strung around a metal frame.
The United States held its first trampoline national championships in 1948. The sport quickly grew and it was incorporated into the Pan-Am Games in 1955. Europe began its trampoline competitions in 1958, thanks to the Scottish gymnastics federation.
First World Championship
The first world championships for trampoline occurred March 21, 1964, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judy Wills and Dan Millmann, both of the United States, were the first world champions. The event occurred just two weeks after the formation of the International Trampoline Federation in Germany.
The World Games in London held in 1985 becomes the first gathering of multi-sport athletes to host trampoline as a sport. Three years later, the International Olympic Committee recognizes the International Trampoline Federation. By 1999, trampolining is a serious sport grandfathered into the International Gymnastics Federation.
The Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000 saw the debut of trampoline at the world's greatest athletic gathering. Nissen was in attendance to watch "with tears in his eyes," according to Olympic Sports Reference. The first men's gold medal winner was Aleksandr Moskalenko of Russia. The first women's gold medalist was Irina Karavayeva, also of Russia. There were 12 men and 12 women competing for medals.
Four years later at the Athens games, there were 16 competitors of each gender. Yuriy Nikitin of Ukraine won the gold for men. The women's side belonged to Anna Dogonadze-Lilkendey. Moskalenko almost repeated--he won the silver. Canadian Karen Cockburn won the silver medal in 2004, four years after earning the bronze in Sydney.
The Chinese dominated trampoline on their home turf in 2008 in Beijing. Both male and female gymnasts made it to the podium at the 2004 world championships. As in 2000, the same country won gold medals at the same games. Lu Chunlong won the men's gold, while He Wenna took home the women's title. Cockburn managed another silver, the only person to earn a medal in every Summer Olympics trampoline event.
Canadians have taken home the most Olympic medals with five. China is close behind with four. Russia has won three. Despite the popularity of trampolines in the United States, not a single American has medaled in the event since the Summer Olympics first sanctioned trampoline a dozen years ago.
Cockburn to Return
The story of trampoline at the 2012 Summer Olympics will be Cockburn. She earned her place in the London Summer Olympics with her 13th Canadian trampoline title, according to the Canadian Press. If she can finish in the top three in London, Cockburn will become the only Canadian athlete to medal in four straight Summer Olympics.
William Browning has been a fan of Olympic gymnastics since the glory days of Kim Zmeskal and Shannon Miller.
- Sports & Recreation
- George Nissen
- Karen Cockburn