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Gymnastics Now and Then



Gymnastics Now and Then
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.42

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    dancelike, toga, buff, format, objective, gymnastic, camps, refused, rank, education, public, death, pommel, stress, basis, equipment
     content words:    Olympic Games, Modern Olympic Games, Ancient Olympians, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, Dudley Allen Sargent, Civil War, Baron Pierre, International Olympic Committee, Our Olympic


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Gymnastics Now and Then
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     How are you at tumbling? Do you like forward rolls, handstands, and cartwheels? Do you hang and swing from bars? How are you at running, jumping, and balancing? All of those are involved in the sport of gymnastics [jim-NASS-tiks]. During the summer Olympics, you can see gymnasts from around the world show off their strength, agility, grace, and speed.
 
2     Gymnastics was popular in ancient Greece. The Greeks admired strong bodies. Gymnastic events were the perfect way to display their physical fitness. While the ancient Olympic Games included chariot races and foot races, they also held gymnastic contests. (They never called them "ancient" Olympic Games; that is our term for a time that is several thousand years in the past.)
 
3     As you might imagine, the ancient Olympic Games differed from modern Olympic Games. 1) The ancient Olympic Games were for Greeks alone. Modern Olympic Games feature people from all over the world! 2) Ancient Olympians competed in the buff. They refused to let a toga get in the way of a top performance! Nowadays athletes wear the proper attire for each sport. 3) Women were not allowed to compete or to watch the games. The law stated that any female caught at the Olympics would be put to death. However, women have been able to compete since 1928, just thirty-two years after the modern Olympic Games were organized. But, the U.S. didn't have a women's gymnastic team to send to the Olympic Games until 1936. 4) In ancient Greece, male gymnasts practiced running, jumping, swimming, throwing, wrestling, and weight lifting. This is not our picture of gymnastics at all! In modern times, gymnastic events seem more like acrobatics.

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