Gymnaestrada made the Earth move
Over 21,000 participants from more than 50 different countries gathered in Helsinki for the 15th World Gymnaestrada this July, which was organised by ISCA member the Finnish Gymnastics Federation, the City of Helsinki and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
The worldwide gymnastics festival is held every four years and this was the first time it was in Finland. The event offered more than 200 hours of gymnastics for the participants and spectators and made Helsinki the gymnastics capital of the world for one week.
With a budget of 20 million euros, the 15th World Gymnaestrada was organised mostly with the help of the volunteers and cooperative partners. The City of Helsinki, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Gymnastics Federation all committed themselves to building on a nontraditional companion model in organising this event. Various commercial cooperative partners were also important in the organisation of the World Gymnaestrada.
“The support of cooperative partners helped make the event affordable enough for participants. In this way the World Gymnaestrada experience was open to just about anyone interested in gymnastics,” Maria Laakso, the Secretary General of the Local Organising Committee, notes.
Organising the event brought the joy of gymnastics to the streets and parks of Helsinki. The organisers wanted to pay extra attention to the residents of Helsinki and tourists, who were taken into consideration by for example common park gymnastics exercises and city shows that were offered for everyone, free of charge. The citizens were also offered a possibility to try gymnastics themselves: a free gymnastics area was held open in one of the city’s sports halls during the event.
“During the five days we were open we had over 9000 people try gymnastics. It was great to see that also adults were eager to put their gymnastics skills to the test,” Saija Suominen, who was in charge of the sports hall during the event, tells.
Gymnastics has never been more visible in Finland than it was during the World Gymnaestrada. The Finnish Gymnastics Federation wishes that this visibility would be experienced among the Finnish gymnastics clubs as well. The event updated many Finns’ impressions of what gymnastics is and how it suits everyone, regardless of their age or gender. Gymnaestrada offered the possibility to see a variety of spectacular shows by, e.g., male gymnasts and gymnasts over the age of 60. It aimed to give the people of Finland a boost to try gymnastics themselves.
And the Finnish Gymnastics Federation has already seen progress in this direction, with a group of parents deciding to form a gymnastics group so they can take part in the next World Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn, Austria, in 2019. Being able to take part in this type of event is motivational for many Finnish gymnasts. The participants’ spark and motivation for practicing is always driven by the thought that another World Gymnaestrada is coming in four years.
The Finnish Gymnastics Federation had the main responsibility for the event. It is one of the biggest sport federations in Finland, helping gymnasts of all ages – from professionals to Gymnastics for All – to progress, supporting health and providing them with positive experiences.
For more information please contact: Secretary General of the Local Organising Committee Maria Laakso, mobile +358 50 562 6226, [email protected]
Article by the Finnish Gymnastics Federation
Photo by Voimisteluliitto/Akifoto