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The sport of gymnastics combines the elements of strength, agility, coordination and precision in one incredible physically and mentally demanding activity. In the early days of gymnastics, ancient Greek and Roman participants were encouraged to include daily physical activity as a part of their primary education goals. It was believed that the ultimate strengthening of both body and mind were paramount to success in daily life. Thus, gymnastics became a crucial part of the education system and remained as such for centuries to come. Today, phys-ed classes are still mandatory in the majority of elementary and secondary schools as well as collegent gymnastics institutions.
The main event categories associated with gymnastics include activities performed on a beam, a series of bars, the floor and a separate category called the vault. Each type of event tests the skill of the gymnast in a different way. The floor category includes tumbling, somersaults, twists, flips and a variety of other challenging feats. During the vault competition, the gymnast approaches the vaulting area, leaps onto the spring board and vaults off of it into the air. The landing is one of the most critical parts of this competition. The gymnast must succeed in sticking this landing without leaning or stepping forward or backward in order to receive the highest number of points in the given event. In beam exercises, the gymnast is challenged to perform a graceful routine along the length of a balancing beam measuring only four inches in width. Uneven and parallel bars are used to test stamina, upper body strength and coordination. It is one of the most popular events in both men's and women's divisions, drawing a considerable amount of media and audience attention during televised events such as the Olympics.