Sport: Gym Dandy

To what the Greeks called gymnastics (originally, "naked art"), the always practical Romans added a characteristic footnote : "It appears to be play, but it is for the fatherland." Until last summer, both ancient definitions were virtually ignored in the U.S., which normally consigns parallel bars and vaulting horses to the far corners of its basketball courts. But when the graceful feats of Olympic-prizewinning Russian muscle maidens were shown on nationwide television, the U.S. gaped in admiration. Here was a new type of individual athletic competition that combined the strength and timing of acrobatics with the beauty of pure ballet. What...

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