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Veteran Gymnasts in Their 20’s and 30’s Now Outnumber Teenagers Competing at the Olympic Games

27 Jul

Update: In the FIG’s September 2012 newsletter their Post-Olympic Report confirmed our findings. Read it HERE.  Note that our age groups start with 15-19. 

We are proud to present the numerical proof to back up our theory: adults* have indeed taken back the sport! (see original theory here  Killing Age Stereotypes: 40 Adult Gymnasts to Follow to London 2012)  The revolution is here. Signal the trumpets! It’s a fact; there are more adult Olympic gymnasts than teenagers.

If you have been paying attention or have read Dvora Meyers excellent article in The Atlantic, The Rise (and Fall?) of the Little-Girl Gymnast,  you know:

“Today’s  female gymnasts…don’t have to compete on all four apparatuses. In the present set-up, a team puts up their best three athletes on a given apparatus with all scores counting towards the total [three-up-three-count format]. The priority is no longer to find the best all-around gymnasts–athletes who can perform well if not spetuacularly on all pieces–but find specialists who can bring in exceptionally high scores on a couple of events.”

The rules have changed and veteran gymnasts are not only staying in the game longer, but beating the teens and winning titles. In London, 37-year-old Oksana Chusovitina is expected to medal once again on vault, at 27 Beth Tweddle is likely to crush inconsistent 21-year-old defending Olympic champ He Kexin on bars,  at 24 Catalina Ponor is still bringing it on beam while 22-year-old teammate Sandra Izbasa will attempt to defend her floor title. And we are not even touching on fan favorites like Tina Erceg (24)  and  Vasiliki Millousi (28).


Anna Dogonadze (39) is still going strong after winning gold way back in 2004.


The game has remained mostly the same for male gymnasts who tend to go through man-strength-puberty in their twenties but the age ranges are even more fascinating in MAG-land.  Thirty-two-year-old Vasileios Tsolakidis hasn’t been in a competition without ending up on the medal stand for parallel bars. The pommel horse final is sure to have defending world champ 27-ear-old Krisztian Berki. At 25, and towering over competitors at a stereotype-shattering six feet, 2011 world bronze floor medalist Alexander Shatilov is poised to become the tallest Olympic medalist ever, we think (comment below if you have the relevant data).  God of the high bar, Epke Zonderland is 26 while Tokyo high bar finalist Yann Cucherat could still challenge at 32. Chinese 27-year-old, defending Olympic and World rings champ Chen Yibing is back. And don’t even get us started on vault! Kaspiarovich is 34 now and Horton is soaring even higher at 26. Ooooooooh, it’s going to be so good!

Jovtchev Dos Santos Millousi Chusovitina Catalina Ponor Isbaza

Veterans in their 20’s and 30’s now outnumber teens in Olympic Gymnastics.

We crunched the numbers for all of the sports under the gymnastics umbrella at the Olympic Games; these include women’s artistic (WAG), men’s artistic (MAG), Rhythmic (individual and group), as well as men’s and women’s trampoline. Here’s what we found

  • The largest age group in WAG are the 20-24-year-olds who make up 55% of the competitors.
  • The oldest female competitor is not Chusovitina, but 39-year-old Athens trampoline Olympic champion Anna Dogonadze (nee Mcxeta).
  • The oldest male competitor is Jordan “The Hotness” Jovtchev, rockin’ it silver fox style at 39.
  • The youngest athletes are the Rhythmic Group competitors where 68% are under 20.
  • Across all disciplines, there are 19 athletes competing who are in their 30’s.
  • Men’s trampoline has zero teenagers. 
*Methodology – we used the final FIG roster posted on July 12th by International Gymnast to calculate age based on the first day of the Games, July 28th. We graphed age groups by five-year increments.  The list does not include alternates already added to rosters (like China, Brazil, etc.). For this article, “adults” are defined as anyone without “teen” at the end of their age, 20+.

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