Why do gymnasts use honey?

Why do gymnasts use honey?
The sweet substance is used by male athletes – but not in the women’s competition

Viewers who have tuned into the gymnastics competition at the Tokyo games have been thrilled by the skill and athleticism on display.

They may also have noticed something unusual being stored next to the parallel bars during the men’s competition.

For the male gymnasts use honey to provide grip when they perform on the apparatus.

It is common for a gymnast to squeeze the honey onto the palm of their hands, rub them together, then add chalk on top.

The women’s competition does not include the parallel bars and they rarely use honey.

But when they take part in the uneven bars, they often use a combination of water and chalk on the bars to increase grip but reduce friction.

Gymnasts’ hands sweat as they swing, creating extra risk they could lose grip on the bars, and the chalk helps reduce the moisture.

Coaches and gymnasts wipe down the bars between competitors so that everyone starts from the same position.

And the use of sticky substances, outlawed in sports such as baseball, are totally legal in gymnastics.

Other substances used include syrup, Coca-Cola, melted gummy bears and beer, according to a 2012 article in The Wall Street Journal.

Three-time Olympian and current Team USA gymnast Sam Mikulak is one of those who uses honey.

And nine-time member of the US national team Donothan Bailey told The New York Times he would not perform without it.

“I think it’s a mental thing for me. I feel like if I don’t put any honey on, then it’s just going to suck,” he said.

Jonathan Horton, who is now retired, was also a big fan of honey.

“I don’t know why it works, but I always have a really good grip on the bars I have tried not to use it, and I slip right off,” he said.


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