Medicine and science in sports and exercise vol:24 issue:7 pages:755-63
The growth and maturity status of 201 elite female gymnasts was considered. The subjects were participants at the 24 World Championship Artistic Gymnastics in 1987. In addition to age at menarche, weight, stature, biacromial, and bicristal breadths, the sitting height/stature ratio, and the Health-Carter anthropometric somatotype of gymnasts 13-20 yr of age were compared with reference data for a nationally representative sample of Flemish girls. Median age at menarche (probit analysis) in gymnasts is 15.6 +/- 2.1 yr compared with 13.2 +/- 1.2 yr in Flemish girls. Anthropometric dimensions increase with age until about 16 yr and then tend to plateau. In contrast to body size, there is little variation in somatotype with age. Compared with adolescent girls, elite gymnasts are considerably shorter and lighter with narrower shoulders and hips, but the differences are more apparent after 17 yr. Elite gymnasts do not differ from nonathletes in relative leg length, but they have proportionally broader shoulders relative to hips. Differences in somatotype occur primarily in endomorphy (especially lower in gymnasts) and to a lesser extent in mesomorphy (higher in gymnasts).