Many Gymnasts may actually look very young particularly the Chinese but 16 isn’t exactly a young age for Olympics Gymnasts. The current rules stipulate that anyone participating in the Olympics as a gymnast must be at least 16 years old, or must at least turn 16 in the same calendar year in which the games are held. Gymnastics remains one of the youngest sports in the Olympics and most of the female athletes are still teenagers. This is because the female body is generally more flexible and agile before the final stages of puberty.
According to experts, Gymnastics is a “little girl’s sport.” The younger the better! Because at very young age, the female body is quite malleable, the muscles are flexible enough to accommodate the tough routines of Gymnastics. In addition, small women are lighter and need less energy to propel themselves into the air during bar and vault exercises. Having shorter legs also gives them more room to maneuver on the beam, while short arms give them an advantage on uneven bars.
The reason that smallish females excel in this sport can be pinned down to pure physics. For example, smaller females need less energy to propel them into the air, making short women flip faster than their taller counterparts. In addition, short legs also give athletes more room to run and jump on the balance beam and small arms make it easier for many of them to swing with little efforts on the uneven bars.
In layman’s terms, short people flip faster than tall people, and in a sport with a strong emphasis on flips, that puts the short people at an advantage. There are benefits to have short legs on apparatus like the beam – you’re less likely to run out of space – and the floor – there’s more room to run and jump if there’s less of you.
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