What are gymnasts spraying on the uneven bars?

Maggie Hendricks

During the prime-time broadcast of the women's gymnastics all-around final, cameras showed Russian gymnast Victoria Komova spraying down the bar with a liquid. Was it a super-secret concoction cooked up by Cold War scientists to help Russian women fly around the bars and earn top scores?

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Nah. It was just water.

Every gymnast prepares the uneven bars to her own liking. To create the best stick, they use a mix of resin and water. They throw resin on the bars, then spray, then throw on some more resin.

Male gymnasts often use honey or Karo syrup for a similar effect. They need a good grip as they complete giant swings, handstands and release moves. The perfect grip won't keep a gymnast from missing the bar on a release move, but it can help her complete perfect handstands.

It's used by every country. Before Aly Raisman started her routine, her coach Mihai Brestyan could be seen with a spray bottle in his hand.

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