When most people think of gymnastics, what instantly comes to mind are the events that we typically see in the Olympics. These competitions have a rich heritage and have led to fierce rivalries between different countries, fans and athletes.The Olympics showcase the most talented athletes in the world, and everything is on the line when a fraction of an inch or second makes the difference between a win and a loss.
As with any other sport, there is constant evolution and change in gymnastics. These innovations usually come in the form of modifications to scoring systems, rules, equipment and safety precautions, but every now and then something completely new tries to steal the show. This is exactly what wheel gymnastics is trying to do.
Originating in Germany, this form of gymnastics uses what is known as a Rhönrad gymnastics wheel (or German wheel). The wheel was first invented in 1925 by the son of a blacksmith named Otto Feick, but the sport itself was first displayed in Berlin during the 1936 Olympic Games. Sadly, it never achieved the status of becoming an official event.
Historically, wheel gymnastics has been mostly practiced in small gymnast communities within Germany, but the sport is starting to make waves in the United States as well. The USA Wheel Gymnastics Federation was established with a mission to "promote both the sport and spectacle of wheel gymnastics." They do this by providing a great place to learn and receive training in accordance with the principles of the International Wheel Gymnastics Federation.
Seen in the video below, Jenny Hoffman is one of the growing number of gymnasts who practice using the gymnastics wheel. Utilizing her superior athletics and sense of balance, she is able to put on one of the most extraordinary performances you will ever see.