It's Much Younger Than You Think. The ladies in this year's United States women's gymnastics squad range in age from 16 to 22. Young athletes are the norm in competitive gymnastics, particularly among women's teams. If you look at the rosters of most international gymnastics tournaments, you'll see an abundance of teenagers and young adults. In fact, according to data from the United States Olympic Committee, more than one in five female athletes at the 2012 Olympics was under 23 years old.
The trend toward youth is especially strong in gymnastics teams that compete at the national level, like the one that will be heading to London later this month. On most teams, you're likely to find at least one player who is just completing her first or second season as a gymnast. There may even be several such players on one team.
The number of young people involved with gymnastics has increased over the past few decades. This can be attributed to the popularity of the sport itself as well as many national governing bodies using younger and younger ages for their competitions. For example, the youngest age category at the 2011 World Championships was 14 years old. The oldest was 20.
At the elite level of competition, it is not unusual for there to be one or two senior members of the team who are still competing while they are young adults.
According to the University of Minnesota, the average age of an Olympic gymnast on the United States women's squad is 16. A gymnast should begin training as a preschooler in order to maximize training, gain strength, and attain an Olympic level by the adolescent years. Most gymnasts train with their primary focus being on developing their skills until they are 15 or 16 years old before they start thinking about going for gold at the Olympics.
The majority of American female gymnasts on the national team are 16 or 17 years old. Only four members of the team are under 15; these young gymnasts can compete in the "Junior" division but cannot score any points for their countries. The oldest member of the American team is 24 year-old Kyla Ross. She made her debut in 2004 and has been returning ever since then. The youngest member of the team is nine years old Riley Dunn who started competing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In general, female gymnasts have their first major competition at the age of fifteen. Some younger girls may be allowed to compete in "mini-Olympics" during their junior year of high school but this is not common practice. College gymnastics is another story: many elite-level athletes choose to continue training even after they've graduated from high school. Many factors determine how long a gymnast can maintain her level of performance without getting injured.
16. It's no secret in the gymnastics world that a female athlete often reaches her peak around the age of 16, well before entering college. To be a successful college gymnast, these athletes must retain their youthful strength, stature, and talents and carry them through four years of competition. The average height of American collegiate gymnasts is 5'4".
The majority of college gymnastics teams include at least one girl who weighs less than 100 pounds and one who weighs more than 200. These girls are called "midgets" or "mini-ites." The only way they can compete is by scoring highly on disallowed events. For example, if a midget has good hands she may score higher on event finals because she can win some gold medals. If she is very tall she may be allowed to participate in balance beam because it is difficult for smaller people to do well on this event.
In addition to being banned from certain events, midgets are also excluded from competing against other women. They can join men's teams as "unattached" athletes but they usually don't make much money doing so. In fact, most male gymnasts make more than the mini-ites because they are allowed to compete on more events.
There are several factors that go into deciding when a female gymnast will begin to decline. Living with stress and trauma from competitions and life experiences can cause muscle and bone injuries which force them out of the sport.
Gymnastics is one of the world's most attractive and exciting sports. Less than 3% of all young girls will be successful in what USA Gymnastics refers to as the "age group" program. This curriculum serves as a stepping stone to the elite level of gymnastics.
The age group division begins when girls first start learning how to vault (roll) off of two feet and ends when they turn 18 years old. There are three levels at which a girl can compete: junior, senior, and masters. At the lowest level, junior, girls can only roll off the vaulting table twice per session.
At the senior level, girls are allowed three vaults per session and at the highest level, masters, girls are allowed four vaults per session. All around the country, young women enjoy competing in meet competitions with their friends. The top athletes in each region qualify for the national championships.
There are also international competitions that are held annually. These events are very similar to the national championships except that more highly ranked athletes from around the world compete. The World Championships are held every other year and the Olympic Games include gymnastics as an event.
The average age of a female gymnast is about 15 years old. These are local groups that usually have members from different schools who train together daily.