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Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 15:22 UK
Gymnastics guide

A gymnast performs on the uneven bars

Gymnastics is a complex sport all about mastering a variety of disciplines. BBC Sport commentator Mitch Fenner explains the dos and don'ts, and where gold can be won and lost.

Examples of the do's and don'ts of the balance beam

As its name would suggest, this is all about balance. Those who do it well make it look so miraculously easy but, when it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.

Guide to the floor

The floor routine for men and women differs greatly. For the men, it's all about strength and balance. For the women, it is all about confidence and choreography.

A gymnast masters the horizontal bar

This is how to do it when it comes to the horizontal bar - this gymnast boasts confident contact with the bar, and his arms and his legs are perfectly aligned for this move.

An example of how not to compete on the horizontal bar

...but you cannot lose your concentration at any time. If you do - even by the narrowest of margins, you can fail to make contact and take a tumble. That's a 0.8-point deduction.

A look at good and poor technique on the parallel bars

These two are going for the same move - at slightly different stages - but you can see one is cleaner than the other. It doesn't take a gymnastics expert to work out which is which.

Paul Hamm masters the pommel horse discipline

This is a cracking discipline but the difference between a perfect display and a howler is miniscule. Here the discipline is being mastered superbly. Concentration is as key as strength.

A competitor falls foul of the pommel horse.

If your hands are out of position by even a millimetre, it can go horribly wrong. Once a mistake is made it's almost impossible to get that back on the pommel horse.

An athlete shows perfect balance on the rings

The gymnast above is performing a sitting cross, which shows what the rings are all about. The level and balance are pefect. You must avoid making it look like a strain, which it is.

The right and wrongs of the uneven bars

You need to keep your momentum throughout this apparatus. Poise and concentration are the key factors... as is holding onto the bar. Medal prospects can rapidly vanish.

Two gymnasts show the run-up and take-off in the vault

There are three main parts to the vault: the approach, the take-off and the landing. You need to emulate a track athlete on the run and perform a huge push in take-off.

A competitor crashes to the ground in the vault

If you don't, you find yourself out of position and a competitor automatically loses 0.8 points for hitting the mat, which in the tight scoring of gymnastics means game over.

Three gymnasts celebrate their gymnastics medals

The difference between coming away with gold, silver and bronze can be absolutely minimal during the course of a full gymnastics competition.

see also
Tweddle ready for floor and bars
05 Aug 08 |  Gymnastics
Team GB for Beijing
21 Jul 08 |  Team GB
Get involved in gymnastics
27 Jun 08 |  Gymnastics
Injured Hamm forced to withdraw
28 Jul 08 |  Gymnastics

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