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The sport

A brief history of the sport

Trampolining is a relatively young sport, having only been properly established in the early 1930s. However, it is a sport that has seen huge advancements in equipment and levels of skill and has achieved a stratospheric rise in popularity. Even to the untrained eye, the height, grace and complexity of trampolining can awe and inspire.

The origins of the sport of trampolining are uncertain and have bases in Eskimo culture, circus lore and the history of England. However, it was in the 1930s that American, George Nissen, revolutionised the trampoline into a tool for exciting and entertaining audiences at his displays. The physical benefits of the sport were quickly realised and the American education system introduced trampolines into the physical education programs of schools.

Trampolining was introduced into Europe with the help of Kurt Baechler of Switzerland and Ted Blake of England and from there developed into not just a recreational sport for health benefits, but also a competitive one. Rules were drawn up to limit the number of moves competed in sequence and moves were given a difficulty rating for the first time. The first World Championships were held in London in 1964 and the following year, the International Trampoline Federation was created as the governing body of the sport.

An example of trampolining at a school in Ilford, Essex - 1950s

Trampoline World Championships, 1968

Held in Holland

The British Trampoline Federation was soon formed and the sport expanded from there. New national and international competitions were set up, both at Senior and Junior level, and techniques advanced so the emphasis was on a combination of difficulty and form. In 1999, gymnastics and trampolining, tumbling and double-mini trampoline merged and a single governing committee was formed - the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG). And in 2000, trampolining was finally recognised as an Olympic sport with its introduction at the Athens Olympics.

Winner of the Gold Medal at 2000 Olympics, Athens

Irina Karavaeva, RUS

Final Routine

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Trampolining has been included at each of the Olympics since and continues to be a sport that excites and entertains. The Chinese are now the dominant power in international trampolining and a force to be reckoned with.

Winner of the Gold Medal at 2012 Olympics, London

Dong Dong, CHI

Final Routine

To see how competitions are structured now and how they run at regional and national level, click here.

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