• Jun He School of Sports Science and Physical Education, Nanjing Normal University, China
  • Jeffrey Montez de Oca Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, USA
  • Lei Zhang Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, USA




artistic gymnastics, vault, discipline, equality, Olympics


Critics argue that disciplines in women’s artistic gymnastics are not equal and the vault is generally scored much higher than the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. The aim of this study is to understand why the vault became superior to other women’s events. The data are the official results for the 586 women gymnasts in Qualification at Olympics from 2000 to 2020. The One-Way ANOVA was used to analyze the variance of D-scores, E-scores and F-scores for women gymnasts obtained on each apparatus. Our research shows that disciplines in women’s artistic gymnastics have not been equal for gymnasts when trying to obtain high F-scores in the past 6 Olympics. Among the four women’s events, the vault came to be the one on which gymnasts are more likely to obtain high F-scores after the 2000 Olympics. We indicate that the strength of vault resulted from the introduction of the new vaulting table in 2001 and the new open-ended rules in 2006. Although the two big changes implemented by the International Federation of Gymnastics in the beginning of the new millennium were aimed at improving safety of the vault and fairness of judging, the interplay of the two big changes unintentionally promoted the vault to become the most powerful event in women’s artistic gymnastics. Such unanticipated consequence of purposeful action may constitute the most important element (i.e., imbalance of disciplines) in the sport. Accordingly, this research has the potential to shed new light on not only this important topic of equality between disciplines, but also broader trends in modern artistic gymnastics.


Download data is not yet available.


Atiković, A., Kalinski, S. D., Bijelić, S., & Vukadinović, N. A. (2011). Analysis results judging world championships in men’s artistic gymnastics in the London 2009 year. Sportlogia, 7(2), 95-102. doi:10.5550/sgia.110702.en.095A DOI: https://doi.org/10.5550/sgia.110702.en.095A

Atiković, A., Kalinski, S. D., & Čuk, I. (2017). Age trends in artistic gymnastic across World Championships and the Olympic Games from 2003 to 2016. Science of gymnastics journal, 9(3), 251-263.

Atiković, A., Kamenjašević, E., Mujanović, A. N., Užičanin, E., Tabaković, M., & Ćurić, M. (2020). Differences between all-around results in women’s artistic gymnastics and ways of minimizing them. Baltic journal of health and physical activity, 12(3), 80-91. doi:10.29359/BJHPA.12.3.08 DOI: https://doi.org/10.29359/BJHPA.12.3.08

Barker-Ruchti, N. (2009). Ballerinas and pixies: a genealogy of the changing female gymnastics body. International journal of the history of sport, 26(1), 45-62. doi:10.1080/09523360802500089 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09523360802500089

Bučar, M., Čuk, I., Pajek, J., Karacsony, I., & Leskošek, B. (2012). Reliability and validity of judging in women's artistic gymnastics at University Games 2009. European journal of sport science, 12(3), 207-215. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2010.551416

Cervin, G. (2015). Gymnasts are not merely circus phenomena: influences on the development of women's artistic gymnastics during the 1970s. International journal of the history of sport, 32(16), 1929-1946. doi:10.1080/09523367.2015.1124859 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2015.1124859

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Čuk, I., & Atiković, A. (2009). Are disciplines in all-around men’s artistic gymnastics equal. Sport Scientific & Practical Aspects, 6(1/2), 8-13.

Čuk, I., & Ferkolj, S. M. (2012). Changes in technique of handspring double salto forward tucked performed on horse and vaulting table. Acta kinesiologiae Universitatis Tartuensis, 13, 20. doi:10.12697/akut.2008.13.02 DOI: https://doi.org/10.12697/akut.2008.13.02

Cuk, I., & Karacsony, I. (2004). Vault : methods, ideas, curiosities, history. Ljubljana: ŠTD Sangvincki.

FIG. (2006). 2006-2008 Code of point (women’s artistic gymnastics). Retrieved from https://gymnasticsresults.com/technical/code-of-points/

FIG. (2009). 2009-2012 Code of point (women’s artistic gymnastics). Retrieved from https://gymnasticsresults.com/technical/code-of-points/

FIG. (2015). 2013-2016 Code of point (women’s artistic gymnastics). Retrieved from http://www.gymnastics.sport/site/rules/rules.php

FIG. (2017). 2017-2020 Code of point (women’s artistic gymnastics). Retrieved from http://www.gymnastics.sport/site/rules/rules.php

He, J., Montez de Oca, J., & Zhang, L. (2020). Why Team China suffered its worst performance in artistic gymnastics at Rio 2016? International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 15(5-6), 696-705. doi:10.1177/1747954120939347 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1747954120939347

Irwin, G., & Kerwin, D. G. (2009). The influence of the vaulting table on the handspring front somersault. Sports Biomechanics, 8(2), 114-128. doi:10.1080/14763140902745027 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14763140902745027

Jackson, M. I. (2010). The mechanics of the table contact phase of gymnastics vaulting. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, (Dissertation/Thesis)

Kalinski, S. D. (2017). Elite female gymnasts at two Olympic Games-quality or luck? Science of gymnastics journal, 9(2), 153-164.

Kalinski, S. D., Atiković, A., Jelaska, I., & Milić, M. (2016). Performance analysis of female gymnasts' vault in elite competitions from 2008 to 2015. Science of gymnastics journal, 8(2), 109-123.

Kalinski, S. D., Jelaska, G., & Atiković, A. (2017). Elite female vault finals from 2008–2016. Acta Kinesiologica, 11(1), 62-66.

Kalinski, S. D., Padulo, J., Atiković, A., Milić, M., & Jelaska, I. (2016). Olympic Games (Beijing) analysis: the performance key. Acta Kinesiologica, 10(1), 48-55.

Kerr, R. (2006). The impact of Nadia Comaneci on the sport of women's artistic gymnastics. Sporting Traditions, 23(1), 87–102.

Kerr, R., Barker-Ruchti, N., Nunomura, M., Cervin, G., & Schubring, A. (2018). The role of setting in the field: the positioning of older bodies in the field of elite women’s gymnastics. Sociology (Oxford), 52(4), 727-743. doi:10.1177/0038038516674676 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038516674676

Kerr, R., & Obel, C. (2015). The disappearance of the perfect 10: evaluating rule changes in women's artistic gymnastics. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 32(2), 318-331. doi:10.1080/09523367.2014.974031 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2014.974031

Kolt, G. S., & Kirkby, R. J. (1994). Injury, anxiety, and mood in competitive gymnasts. Perceptual and motor skills, 78(3), 955-962. doi:10.1177/003151259407800351 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2466/pms.1994.78.3.955

Leskošek, B., Čuk, I., & Pajek, M. B. (2013). Trends in E and D scores and their influence on final results of male gymnasts at European Championships 2005–2011. Science of gymnastics journal, 5(1), 29-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5604/20831862.988884

Massidda, M., & Calò, C. M. (2012). Performance scores and standings during the 43rd Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, 2011. Journal of sports sciences, 30(13), 1415-1420. doi:10.1080/02640414.2012.710759 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2012.710759

Merton, R. K. (1936). The unanticipated consequences of purposive social action. American sociological review, 1(6), 894-904. doi:10.2307/2084615 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2084615

Milčić, L., Živčić, K., & Krističević, T. (2019). Differences in vault run-up velocity in elite gymnasts. Science of gymnastics journal, 11(2), 201-207.

Naundorf, F., Brehmer, S., Knoll, K., Bronst, A., & Wagner, R. (2008). Development of the velocity for vault runs in artistic gymnastics for the last decade. Paper presented at the XXVI International Conference on Biomechanics in Sports.

Pajek, M. (2018). Individual apparatus results of female all around Olympic champions. Science of gymnastics journal, 10(3), 357-368.

Sands, W. A. (2000). Injury prevention in women's gymnastics. Sports medicine (Auckland), 30(5), 359-373. doi:10.2165/00007256-200030050-00004 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200030050-00004

Sands, W. A., & McNeal, J. R. (2002). Some guidelines on the transition from the old horse to the new table. Technique, 22(1), 22.

Schärer, C., Lehmann, T., Naundorf, F., Taube, W., & Hübner, K. (2019). The faster, the better? Relationships between run-up speed, the degree of difficulty (D-score), height and length of flight on vault in artistic gymnastics. PloS one, 14(3), e0213310-e0213310. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213310 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213310

Thornton, A. (2010). A fascinating look at scoring trends. Retrieved from




How to Cite

He, J., de Oca, J. M., & Zhang, L. (2022). WHY THE VAULT BECAME SUPERIOR TO OTHER EVENTS IN WOMEN’S ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS AT THE OLYMPICS?. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 14(2), 237–247. https://doi.org/10.52165/sgj.14.2.237-247