Flying rings was a gymnastics event similar to still rings, but with
the performer gripping a pair of rings, approximately shoulder width
apart, and swinging— from the point of suspension of the rings—
while executing a series of stunts.
3 The Performance
4 Safety features
Whereas still rings are now 9.8 feet from the point of attachment,
flying rings – also used as still rings in the past – were on
cables up to 22 feet in length - the extra 12 feet allowing the
gymnast to swing through an impressive arc. The rings themselves were
at times larger and heavier than competition still rings today,
designed on a steel core covered by rubber or leather.
There is some evidence that the event took place in an international
contest in the late 1800s, if not earlier. Records from Princeton
University indicate one of its students, H. G. Otis, won the Eastern
Intercollegiate Championships in flying rings in 1902. In America, the
event persisted on a regular basis in both
NCAA and AAU gymnastic
competitions until the early 1960s, when those governing bodies
eliminated the flying rings in future meets in an effort to correlate
apparatus and performances with those in the modern Olympic Games.
Another reason flying rings was removed from intercollegiate
competitions is the dangerous nature of the event, with the gymnast
soaring to a height of 15 feet or so at each end of a swing. Frank
Snay, of Navy, was the last winner in the
NCAA event in 1961. It is
difficult to ascertain if flying rings ever existed in the Olympic
Games, for records occasionally cite medalists in "flying rings" when
in fact the event may have been the still rings.
To start a routine, the gymnast jumped or was lifted until he could
grasp the rings; then an assistant pulled or pushed him, starting his
swing. At the end of each arc the gymnast would do pikes, dislocates
or front or back-uprises to build up height. A typical routine would
show a number of "flying" dislocates or inlocates (a dislocate leading
directly to a support above the rings or a handstand was called a
flange). The performer might also do additional moves typical of the
still rings while in flight, such as a flying cross. After several
passes the routine would end with a (usually) spectacular dismount,
normally off a front swing - with fellow gymnasts in place, prepared
to help break a fall if the move failed.
No nets or other safety devices, apart from standard gym mats, were
used in competition, although, when training, gymnasts frequently used
a flying mechanic (a suspended support rig).
"Complete Book of Gymnastics" by N. Loken & R. Willoughby, (1959)
NCAA Sports Records
HIstory of Gymna