Wheel Gymnastics is one of the
more recent competitive disciplines in gymnastics. It has been
represented in Norway for approximately 10 years.
The first Rhönrad (gymnastic
wheel) was made in 1925 by a German railway worker called Otto Feick.
The first international competition took place in Germany in 1930. After
the Second World War it took some time before wheel gymnastics regained
popularity, but from 1959 activity started to increase in Germany. The
first European Cup was held in 1990. In 1995 the international wheel
gymnastics federation, IRV, was founded and the first World
Championships were held in the Netherlands. Since then the championships
have been held every second year:
* 1997 Antwerp, Belgium
* 1999 Limburg, Germany
* 2001 Liestal, Switzerland
In 2003 Norway and Lillehammer
have been awarded the championships.
Wheel gymnastics is represented
in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria Belgium,
Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, England,
Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland and the United States of America.
In Norway wheel gymnastics is a
growing sport both in terms of the number of gymnasts and the geographic
spread of the clubs. The most active clubs are in Bergen, Rygge, Skjåk,
Sandefjord and Hadeland.
What does a wheel look like?
The wheel consists of two
PVC-covered steel rings approximately 2.10m in diameter. These are
joined together by 50cm long steel rungs. While the wheel rolls along
the floor, the gymnast inside performs a variety of gymnastic and
There are three competitive
disciplines in wheel gymnastics:
The wheel is in continuous
motion. While the wheel rolls in a straight line backwards and forwards
along the floor, the gymnast performs a variety of moves inside the
A competition routine must
contain at least eight wheel rotations plus a dismount. Each move can
have a difficulty value ranging from A to D, A being the easiest and D
the most difficult.
The gymnast tips the wheel onto
one of its rims and rolls on one rim throughout the routine (changing
from one rim to the other several times during a routine). The wheel
moves in a spiral and the gymnast performs gymnastic and acrobatic
elements in the moving wheel.
The wheel is set in motion by
the gymnast, who then runs and jumps onto the moving wheel.
From the top of the wheel the
gymnast performs a vault down onto a crash mat. The vault can vary from
a simple stretch jump to a complicated somersault.