Dr. Bill Sands is always doing this — stifling perfectly entertaining online debates with the facts.
Here’s an abstract of one of their newer publications looking at the official heights and weights of U.S. Olympic teams since 1956:
The lay press, scientists, and physicians appear to believe that gymnasts are continually getting smaller and that their “smallness” is a health risk.
PURPOSE: Assess the historical changes in the size and age of the U.S. Women’s Olympic teams from 1956 to 2008.
METHODS: The official records from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, of Olympic team members were assessed at two levels: 1) individual height, mass, age, and body mass index (BMI) and 2) the team performance scores and rankings.
Fourteen Olympic teams with a total of 106 team members, including the alternates, were included. Trend analyses were conducted using linear and polynomial models.
RESULTS: Simple linear correlations indicated that since 1956 height, mass, age, BMI, and team Olympic rank have been declining. However, 2nd order polynomial curve fits indicated that in the last four Olympic Games the members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Teams have been getting larger.
CONCLUSION: Women’s Olympic gymnasts were getting smaller through approximately the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then the size of these gymnasts has increased. The minimum age rule modifications may have played a role in athlete size changes along with a shift from former communist Eastern Bloc near dominance.
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012 May 29. [Epub ahead of print]
Historical Trends of the Size of U.S. Olympic Female Artistic Gymnasts.
Sands WA, Slater C, McNeal JR, Murray SR, Stone MH.
Source: Monfort Family Human Performance Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO.
In jock speak:
… the teams got continually smaller through the 80s and early 90s and then have been getting bigger ever since.
Interestingly, Olympic places and medals tends to follow the same trend. As the latter gymnasts got larger so did their medal count.
Andrew Donnellan of Tucson, Ariz., will be presented with the 2012 USA Gymnastics Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame Award at the 2012 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in San Jose, Calif., on June 30 at the Hilton San Jose. He is awarded for his demonstration of strength and bravery after suffering a career-ending injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down. …
via email from Lise Gosselin of Gymnastics Canada:
re Gymnova boards:
Any athlete, coach or manager who takes one or more spring(s) out of any board will be red-carded for the duration of training or competition session when this occurred. The person will leave the training or competition floor immediately. She/he will be allowed back on the training and/or competition floor once authorized in writing by the WAG Program Director and following a payment of a fine of $300.00 to the WAG Program of GCG.
One of our gymnasts had to change her Beam mount first day of podium training at the National Championships.
The only board allowed for Beam was rock hard. She couldn’t deflect it.
The vaulting boards were quite good this competition, however. Gymnova brought “used” boards that had been broken-in at previous competitions. Please do that for Beam too, next time.
In past meets, even the softest Gymnova Boards were too hard for the smallest female gymnasts.
Why is it that 50lb young girls are required to vault on Olympic boards?
Is that safe?
On a personal note, thanks to Pascal and the Gymnova crew in Regina. My club purchased discounted equipment at the competition. And we are LOVING our new mats.