Power, skill combine to make gymnastics a must-see event

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Kyle Russell

Members of the women’s Fighting Illini Gymnastics team celebrate a clean routine on bars preformed by Nicole Biondi. The 9.900 helped insure the narrow 195.325-195.150 victory over Big 10 rival Iowa State.

Kyle Russell, Senior Photographer

When you think of mainstream sports within college, football, basketball, volleyball and baseball all come to mind.

Other sports seem to get overlooked when it comes to pulling in large fan-based audiences.

In this past year, I have had the privilege of getting to photograph a sport which many may see as mainly an Olympic sport although it also has its equal moments of excitement, defeat, bliss, and rivalries on a collegiate level as well, and that is artistic gymnastics.

Since its founding on a collegiate level in 1982, women’s artistic gymnastics has been wowing spectators with incredible amounts of grace, power, and precision.

A typical meet consists of two or more teams competing in four disciplines: balance beam, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise. These disciplines will test a gymnast in every way in both upper body and lower body.

In the search for perfection, every step, every trip, and every balance check is your worst enemy. In the past, the perfect score was a 10 which although elusive, was still obtainable. It now seems to be an impossibility since the scoring system has been changed.

Now every gymnast starts out with a perfect 10 and every mistake, even the most miniscule, will result in deductions of full to hundredths of a point.

Although the gymnastics season has come to a close for this season, many of you will be leaving for colleges that do have gymnastics programs. Illinois State University, University of Illinois, and Northern Illinois University all have teams.

I highly encourage you to go and see one of these events because I know you will be amazed by the dedication that these athletes have put into their sport.

Even if you are not a student of one of these schools, the drive is worth it — plus most of the events are completely free to watch.

Kyle Russell
Alyssa Bossle of the University of Illinois Gymnastics team extends out of a side ariel on the balance beam on senior night. Although falling from the beam during this routine, Bossle still got back up and completed the exercise.
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