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These Images Perfectly Capture How Vaulting Has Changed Over The Years

Journey from "the horse" to "the tongue."

Every four years, millions around the world gather to watch the Summer Olympic Games, and one of the most popular sports people look forward to seeing are the amazing gymnastic events.

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Gymnasts are agile and strong and mesmerizing.

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I mean, wow.

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And the technique that showcases those strengths the most is, without a doubt, the vault. It's a move that requires the athlete to run at a high speed, jump upon a trampoline-like structure, spin in mid-air, and then land firmly on their feet.

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Simple, right?

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As with most things, vaulting has evolved quite a bit over the course of the last century. The device athletes used to flip across and land, aka "the horse" has changed for the purpose of safety.

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Several gymnasts experienced injuries after running into the beam because they'd often miscalculate when they'd have to jump. The most severe damage athletes have suffered as a result is paralysis and sometimes even death.

The new equipment, known as "the tongue," allows for players to execute their move more safely and fluidly.

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Even the technique of vaulting has changed over the years, for both men and women. Although men have been competing since the start of the 1896 modern Olympic Games, the women's program wasn't a fully-fledged program until the 1952 games.

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Look at these GIFs of Larisa Latynina and McKayla Maroney from the 1956 and 2012 Summer Games, respectively.


The images โ€” taken 56 years apart โ€” show just how much the vault has evolved. It should be noted that both Latynina and Maroney took home the gold for executing this move so flawlessly.

And there's an even bigger contrast between the vault of Savino Guglielmetti, who competed in the 1932 Olympics and Hak Seon Yang, who dominated in the 2012 games.

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The images show the sport has changed for guys, nearly 80 years apart. Both men won gold.

Those are just a few of the modifications the event has seen over the years, and, if the past is any indication of what's to come, there will be more cool changes in the future.

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Pretty neat, huh?

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Watch the women's gymnastics individual all-around final featuring Simone Biles tonight in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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