History of the Uneven Bars
In the 19th century (around 1830), there were reports of uneven bars in France, but it was only in the second half of the 20th century when this apparatus with the asymmetrically adjusted bars gained its importance. It was at the first “real” World Championships in Budapest in 1934, which were the very first ones for women as well, when it came into favor as a competition apparatus and two years later, when it had its Olympic debut in Berlin.
Today the uneven bars are the most many-sided, most dynamic and most demanding apparatus of women’s gymnastics. It is long since the structure of the many-sided movements on and between the upper and the lower bar corresponds to a “double horizontal bar”…


At first, they did gymnastics like the men did...
(History and development of women’s gymnastics at uneven bars)


A sight backwards ...
Already in 1830 the Frenchman Amoros wrote of uneven and asymmetrically adjusted bars in a very successful textbook (“Manuel d’education physique et morale”),
 which was still published in 1859 in its ninth edition. This modification of the bars was not really established in the following time, not at all as a specific feminine apparatus, since the equal participation of women was not possible for a long time due to social circumstances. There were women doing gymnastics around the turn of the century in the German Gymnastics League, but the real upturn started after World War II only.

Women gymnastics, 1861 >>>


Before that, women’s gymnastics was strongly reminding of men’s gymnastics. As for them, the twelve events were considered to be the “crown of men’s gymnastics”, while there were nine events for the women, which consisted of a mixed competition of athletics and apparatus exercises: horizontal bar, parallel bars, horse, compulsory without apparatus and exercise with clubs as well as hundred-meter sprint and ball throw. Later on, seven events emerged for the women emerged from that in Germany around 1927, which contained a compulsory at bars as well, but at still at parallel bars.

The asymmetrical adjusting of the bars was introduced at the first World Championships for women in 1934 in Budapest.....

Uneven bars on public relation photo 1936


... its Olympic debut as a feminine apparatus took place in 1936 in Berlin, even if there were still two apparatuses available: the men’s bars for the compulsory and the “other” one as a choice for the voluntary exercise. Out of the leading nations at that time, it was only Czechoslovakia who chose the uneven bars. It was here where the tendency to “double horizontal bar”-gymnastics was realized for the first time, since these exercises were not exclusively similar to men’s gymnastics at bars.

Käthe Sohnemann from the golden German  team - but on parallel bars  >>>


After World War II, at the World Championships in 1950 in Basel, the uneven bars were still not fully accepted, since the women could (for the last time) choose between the uneven bars and the swinging rings. The Austrian Kolar and the Swedish Petterson were the first World Champions to be entered in the history book of gymnastics.

Special Olympic preparation in Great Britain 1952:
Synchron, just for fun
  The Olympic Games in Helsinki two years later pushed the development of the apparatus forward, since it was a full apparatus there. The first Olympic Champion at uneven bars was the Hungarian Korondi.  At the World competitions in 1954 the still non-stayed uneven bars were placed as full and lone apparatus; the growing dynamics of modern gymnastics led to 39 (!) bar-breaks then!  
Marjorie Carter (GBR)
at the Olympic Games in Helsinki 1952

In Western Germany the public interest decreased, not only concerning the uneven bars but generally the international development of women’s gymnastics. Inconsistent with that were the innovations of German apparatus-developers such as Richard Reuther and Rudolf Spieth, who created useful constructions of stayed double horizontal bars already at the beginning of the 1950ies (German Gymnastics Celebrations, 1953). But it was only in 1965 when perfectly stayed double horizontal bars with struts at all the four posts were erected at the Palatinate Gymnastics Celebrations. 

The first world performance took place at the V. Gymnaestrada in Vienna, which caused enthusiasm on the side of the gymnasts. The Technical committee of the World Gymnastics Federation released the apparatus short time later for the Universiade in Budapest.
Even if the uneven bars had initiated a new era in the training practice and were applied for a patent in 1966, they were not employed at the World Championships in Dortmund. When the exercise of the German-American Doris Fuchs-Brause met the revolutionary opportunities of the new apparatus with nonstop swinging, flying and bar-changing there was whistling and booing in the audience for minutes-with their scores the judges had not fully appreciated this “new” and dynamic way of gymnastics…  
One year later, however, at the European Championships in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, the new double horizontal bars of women’s gymnastics could be employed for the first time. Vera Caslavska (CSR) became European Champion; in Ljubljana in 1970, the German (GDR) Karin Janz became the first World Champion at this modern apparatus, which was in constant technical development in the following years.

Karin JANZ, Olympic Champion 1972 in Munich and inventor of "Janz Sault"



Maxi GNAUCK - fom 1979 to 1983 the "Queen of Uneven Bars"


The revolution on Uneven Bars:
Olga Korbut and her flic flac.


Due to the integration of two fiberglass cords, patented since the mid-1960ies, no single bar-break occurred at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972!

Constant technical development…
Contributing to that was the Dutch apparatus manufacturer Janssen
&Fritsen, who supplies international gymnastics events since the mid-1960ies, having had his Olympic apparatus debut in 1968 and having presented his apparatus creations at World Championships for the first time in Warna (Bulgaria) in 1974.  

After the supply in Lausanne in 1997, is now the "Official Apparatus Supplier" of the first World Championships of the new millennium in the Belgian town Ghent 2001.

There will used the Top competition bars J&F SYSTEM. F.I.G approved.
Secured by means of a dual cable system with patented slide lock for easy adjustment. Round railswith fibreglass core and laminated wood.    (Photo right >>>)

 Three months before this highlight of the year already, J&F, as a partner of the Vlaamse Turnliga VTL, supplies the new gymnastics center right behind the World Championships gym in Ghent, which is the biggest gymnastics center in the Benelux states. At the World Championships these highly modern facilities -evidently with most modern uneven bars as well- will be used as official warming-up gym before the performances of the top-gymnasts in the competition arena in the “Topsporthal Vlanderen”.



(Sources: Geschichte der Turngeräte. J.Göhler; The History of British Gymnastics. J.Prestidge; Das Turnjahrhundert der Deutschen. A.Götze/E.Herholz; Flickflack Weltbühne des Turnens. A.Götze/H.-J.Zeume; Gerätturnen einst und jetzt. W.Pahncke; Janssen&Fritsen.Katalog 2000)

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update: 18-May-2001