The Vault is the last event in our round up of all the Olympic gymnastics event. Both men and women compete on this apparatus in the Olympic circuit and it is the fastest event, taking only around two seconds per vault. Each competitor does two vault jumps and the points awarded for each vault are added together to place competitors in rank. Like most gymnastic events, there are more than one panel of judges for this event. Two panels split to decide the D-score and the E-score respectively. The D-score is given for the vaults degree of difficulty, whereas the E-score looks at technique, execution and landing. Precision in vaulting is incredibly important, particularly because the athletes go so quickly and can easily get injured if the execute a movement wrong.
In the actual event, gymnasts have to run very quickly up the 25m runway to gain as much momentum as possible before they jump onto and off of the spring board onto their hands on the vault table. This starting momentum is important as the faster you approach the spring board, the higher you can jump off of it. The higher you jump, the more complex moves you can perform before you land, and therefore the more points you can gain for difficulty. The kind of movements one would expect in a vault event would be tucks and pikes. The gymnasts must also land squarely on their feet; any movement or step would result in a reduction of points for execution.
The only real difference between male and female vaults is the height of the vaulting table. For women, the vaulting table is 1.25m, whereas for the men the vaulting table is 1.35m. You may have heard of the vaulting apparatus being called the horse before. This equipment has changed into the table over time, with the main difference of the addition of the collar to the apparatus. This increases the safety for the athlete and so is now the preferred style of apparatus.
As you can tell, the vault is open for anyone to try, but I’d particularly suggest it to you if you have a love of speed and adrenaline! I’d think it might be a little like flying in those few seconds you’re tumbling through the air at such a high speed! Like a superhero! Let me know what you think when you try it out for yourself!