Diversification of women’s artistic gymnastics since the fall of Communism

Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Elizabeth Booth, Francesca Cavallerio, Georgia Cervin, Diana-Luiza Simion, Myrian Nunomura, Froukje Smits

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the development of women’s artistic gymnastics (WAG) systems since the fall of Communism in 1989. Drawing on Robertson’s (1994; 1995) glocalisation theory, we examine how six case study countries – Australia, Brazil, Italy, Romania, Russia, and the Netherlands – developed in relation to the global context of state-managed (Communist) WAG system thinking and local conditions and events. Our results show that Romanian and Russian WAG were significantly interrupted by the fall of Communism and today still need to recover to reinvent and stabilise their systems. Australia was earliest and has most prominently invested in elite WAG through the national government’s implementation of a state-managed elite sport. Its system and performance success have, however, experienced challenges that have caused a number of changes. Brazil, Italy, and the Netherlands have not benefitted from extensive national elite sport systems, and their governing bodies have less consistently invested in WAG. Italy and the Netherlands have, however, adopted creative measures to develop WAG, particularly through popularisation activities. Italy stands out as an example of most effective local sustainable development, having achieved performance success, acquired funds for their elite operations, and, importantly, not suffered allegations of abuse. In combination, the decline of Communist WAG and growth of Western successes has de-centred the East and diversified this sport’s competitive landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen's Artistic Gymnastics
Subtitle of host publicationSocio-cultural Perspectives
EditorsRoslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart, Gretchen Kerr
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003007005
ISBN (Print)9780367440015
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020


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