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Distance Between Parallel Lines

Length of a perpendicular segment between them.

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At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team won the gold medal! The 2016 gymnasts trained and competed in a variety of events, and one of the most exciting to watch was the uneven parallel bars. Did you know that watching this event in the 1950s would have been an entirely different experience?

Reaching New Heights

In this Olympic event, gymnasts must perform a variety of swinging, flipping, and twisting tricks that take them back and forth between two parallel bars, one that is 5.6 feet high and the other that is 8.2 feet high. The gap between the bars makes room for exciting moves as gymnasts swing over, around, and across with amazing speed, strength, and control. If you watch the Olympics today, you might see gymnasts soaring high in the air as they propel themselves from bar to bar, but they didn’t always have enough room to perform such tricks.

Credit: Tom Thai
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eviltomthai/3589202191/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In the 1950s, the high and low parallel bars stood much closer together, which only allowed for simpler transitions and tricks. By the 1970s, however, gymnasts and their coaches had begun to move the bars farther apart, creating more room for difficult release moves. Who would have known that increasing the distance between parallel bars would transform this gymnastics event to be as exciting and extremely challenging as it is today?

See the historical transformation of the uneven bars for yourself: 

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Read the article below to learn more about routines on the uneven bars. By clicking this link, you will leave the CK-12 site and open an external site in a new tab. This page will remain open in the original tab.


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  1. [1]^ Credit: Tom Thai; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eviltomthai/3589202191/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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