Gymnastics is one of the oldest sports in the world, dating back to ancient Greece and a time when the sport was mostly performed naked. In fact, the word gymnastics is derived from the Greek word "gymnos," which means "naked."
Gymnastics officially became a sport in 1862 and was first introduced into the Olympics in 1896. Women's gymnastics became an Olympic sport in 1928. Both men and women compete in the floor exercise and the vault. Women additionally compete in the balance beam and uneven bars. Men, however, compete in rings, parallel bars, horizontal bars and pommel horse.
There is also rhythmic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics and aerobic gymnastics. Rhythmic gymnastics incorporates balls, hoops, ribbons, clubs and ropes. Acrobatic gymnastics is a group gymnastic sport that both women and men compete in. Aerobic gymnastics is done for entertainment purposes and performed at events such as the Cirque de Soleil.
Shannon Miller is the most decorated American gymnast of all time, with two gold medals, two silver medals and three bronze medals. Mary Lou Retton was the first American to win a gold medal in the women's vault event. At 16 years of age, she won a gold medal for the women's All-Around event.