Sports | August 12, 2016 5:00 am

What Is Trampoline Gymnastics, and Why Is It an Olympic Sport?

Rosannagh Maclennan of Canada warms up during Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


While you’re cheering on Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, and the rest of the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio, know that there are other elite gymnasts flying through the air because of the way they bounced. Yes, at this Olympics, Trampoline Gymnastics will once again be a medal-able sport.

Here are five things you need to know about the sport:

(1) The sport of “Trampoline” actually made its debut at the 2000 Sydney games and consists of two separate routines: “compulsory,” where the acrobatic athletes perform pre-defined move combos; and “voluntary,” where they just go to town.

(2) The sport of Trampolining was founded in 1934 by American gymnasts George Nissen and Larry Griswold, who created the first modern trampoline at the University of Iowa. (It was initially used to train astronauts on the effects of being in a gravity-less environment.)

(3) Trampolining is scored on three separate levels: “difficulty” (like regular gymnastics’ floor routine portion, it’s all about the number of tricks you do in midair before landing again); “execution” (how well the trampolining athlete performs their set of skills); and our favorite, “time of flight” (pretty self-explanatory).

(4)  Among women’s and men’s Trampolining events, the Chinese will likely dominate, having scored five solo gold medals already. Look out for these names: Chunlong Lu (men’s) and Wenna He (women’s). Canada’s Karen Cockburn is the most decorated Trampolinist ever, having taken home two silver medals and one bronze for her country (watch her countrywoman take home the gold in 2012 in the video at the bottom).

(5) As far as U.S. Trampoline gymnastics team is concerned, there are only two athletes competing this year in Rio: Nicole Ahsinger (2014 Youth Olympian); and Logan Dooley (a non-competing alternate at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games). The U.S. has a very slim chance of medaling, but our hockey team had a very small chance of taking the gold in 1980 too.

For more on the sport, click here. For a sample of what’s to come, watch Canada’s Rosannagh MacLennan win women’s gold on the trampoline back in 2012.