Every year, training continues in Gymnastics throughout the World. In addition to practicing in a gym- local, regional and Chapter competitions and invitationals occur.
Here are some highlights:
1972-Aug 13-18. At the Univ. of California- Los Angeles. Gymnastics was introduced in the World Games with 11 gymnasts competing in tumbling and free exercise.
1975- Aug 7-11, CBS televised the World Games, which included gymnastics. It was held at Central Michigan Univ. in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
1979- Aug 8-13, World Games at the State Univ. of New York College at Brockport
1983- July 12-18. The 6th World Summer Games at LSU in Baton Rouge Louisiana. 250 gymnasts competed from the US & 7 other countries. (By 1983, 7,500 gymnasts are participating in SO Gymnastics.) Men’s & Women’s events were limited to Floor Exercise, Tumbling and Balance beam. ABC broadcast the games on Wide World of Sports. All routines were optional, with some looking like “dance recital” numbers.
1983- The 1st Gymnastics Sports Skills Guide was published.
1984- Compulsory routines for gymnastics were written for all 4 artistic women’s events and 4 men’s events. Our first coaches Sports Skill Guide was published.
1985- Rhythmic Ribbon was first offered as an event for women gymnasts.
-The first Special Olympics/United States Gymnastic Federation agreement was signed to further develop the relationship of both organizations to the mutual benefit of the people we served.
-We brought 4 gymnasts to the US Olympic Festival in Houston, Texas.
1987- July 31 to Aug 8. World Summer Games in South Bend, Indiana at the U of Notre Dame & St. Mary’s College. It was televised on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
Compulsory routines for Hoop, Ball, Ribbon and Rope were introduced with 3 levels of competition.
1988- Special Olympics Director’s Conference- Reno, Nevada. Kate Faber Hickie introduced Rhythmic Gymnastics to Directors and Eunice Kennedy Shriver and received approval to begin implementing this sport in gymnastics.
1989- Oct 7-14, Regional Conference in the Middle East- Amman, Jordan. Gymnastics and Basketball were presented. The goal of the training school was to introduce the idea of Special Olympics to the 6 Arab Countries that attended. The countries were Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yamen, Egypt and Jordan. Jordan had a program already, but new coaches were introduced to Special Olympics.
1989- 2001- USAG Congress(es)- Special Olympics had an Exhibition/Recruiting table, and I did Presentations at Congress throughout the U.S. We had a seat on the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors for over 15 years.
1990-July 20-27- USA Special Olympics sent a contingent to the European SO Summer Games. Strathclyde, Scotland.
-SO Gymnastic Newsletters were sent out to all chapters and coaches on the Director’s email list. Newsletters were sent out 2x per year throughout the 90’s and into 2000.
1991- World Summer Games in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota.
Rhythmic gymnastics offered a complete program to meet the needs of all levels and abilities: Level A (wheelchair or sitting), Level B (wheelchair or sitting), Level I 30 sec. compulsories in floor, hoop, ball, ribbon & a group routine with hoops. Level II had 60 sec. compulsories in rope, hoop, ball, & ribbon with a group routine using balls. Level III had 65-80 sec. compulsories in rope, hoop, ball & ribbon with a group routine using ribbons.
1991- Barry Nease, who owned Floor Express Music donated his services to S.O. to create our Floor Ex. Music for the 3 levels of compulsories. He continued to be helpful to Special Olympics over the years.
1993- July 23- Aug 1- SO Gymnasts participated in the US Olympic Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
1993-2000-Unified Gymnastics (Rhythmic & Artistic)- Our rules committee came up with a method to have Inclusion practices & meets. We field tested Partner participants (one a Special Olympian, one not, but in the same age group). At the conclusion a meet was held. Scores were added together and the awards were based on the combined score. It was a success, but not adapted by SOI.
1995- World Summer Games in New Haven, Conn. With 367 gymnasts from 17 countries. For the first time, in gymnastics, judges were participating from around the World.
1995- Dec 14-17 Gymnastics European Regional Training in Rome, Italy.
1996-Bart Connor & Nadia Comaneci were filmed performing our new compulsory artistic routines for the following 8 years. Bart is also an active member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors
1998- 2,805 gymnastics coaches were certified in Special Olympics.
USA Gymnastics permitted S.O. gymnasts to demonstrate in competitions that were sanctioned by them. SOI insurance company listed USAG as additionally insured.
1999- June 26-July 4- World Summer Games in Raleigh Durham, N. Carolina
2000- Special Olympics participated in the TJ Maxx Post Olympic Tour run by USA gymnastics. 5 Special Olympians participated in each of the stops on the tour. Special Olympians did their routines with Olympians cheering them on.
2002- June 17-23-Special Olympics Ireland National Games and 2003 Pre Games
New artistic compulsory routines were taped in Atlanta and will be presented at World Games in Ireland to be used for 8 years.
2003- June 21-29. World Summer Games, Dublin, Ireland
2004- U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Tour (TJ Maxx Tour of Gymnastics Champions)- 2 Special Olympic Gymnasts performed at each venue. Warming up with the Olympians and being escorted by them for their time to perform were crowning moments.
2005-Our gymnastic rules committee, with the help of USA Gymnastics trampoline personnel, created two levels of trampoline competition for gymnasts with mental disabilities. It was field tested in several chapters, but never voted as an official event.
2006- July 2-7. USA Games (Artistic & Rhythmic) Ames, Iowa. Our first National Games!
2007- Oct 2-11- World Summer Games , Shanghai, China
2010- USA Games (rhythmic only) in Lincoln, Nebraska
2010- “Global Trainer” rhythmic Coaches & Judges Workshop from 5/14-16, in Marietta, GA
2011- USAG/SO Championships from May 5-6 in Marietta, GA (first of many yearly ones)
2011- World Summer Games, Athens, Greece
2011- 29,077 Special Olympics Gymnasts competed in Gymnastics events with 95 programs hosting gymnastics competitions.
2012- Coaches Excellence Academy, Artistic Gymnastics- May 6, Atlanta, GA
2014- June 14-21, USA Games in New Jersey
2015- World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California
2018- USA Games, Seattle, Washington
2018-July 21- 50th Anniversary Celebration of Special Olympics, Soldier Field, Chicago
2019- World Summer Games, Dubai
2022- USA Games in Orlando, FL (50th year of SO Gymnastics!)
Special Olympic Gymnasts have also demonstrated & competed outside our Special Olympics events. Gymnastic performances are often used in demonstrations to accentuate the message that Special Olympics helps our athletes become active, productive members of society.
Additionally, throughout the World, there are local, area, & Chapter competitions in Artistic & Rhythmic Gymnastics every year.