Enjoy watching the evolution of one of the most spectacular Olympic disciplines – The Balance Beam! In the early days of women’s artistic gymnastics, the beam was based more on dance than on tumbling. In the 1960s, the most difficult acrobatic skill performed by the average Olympic gymnast was a back handspring. The Balance Beam difficulty began to increase dramatically in the 1970s. Olga Korbut and Nadia Comăneci pioneered advanced tumbling combinations and aerial skills on beam; other athletes and coaches began to follow suit. The change was also facilitated by the transition from wooden beams to safer, less slippery models with suede-covered surfaces. By the mid-1980s, top gymnasts routinely performed flight series and multiple aerial elements on beam. Today, balance beam routines still consist of a mixture of acrobatic skills, dance elements, leaps, and poses, but with significantly greater difficulty. It is also an individual medal competition in the Olympics.
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