If you've ever wondered how the heck gymnasts manage to keep a grip on the parallel bars, know this: it ain't just chalk. Olympic gymnasts use any and all forms of hand goop, from honey to coke and beer and sugar to melted gummy bears and a special concoction created by a chemist and more. And the crazy thing is, it's completely legal.
Yep, according to the International Gymnastics Federation's point code, there is no specific rules or restrictions regarding the use of sticky substances. Gymnasts could theoretically be marked down half a point by the judges for "marking the floor carpet" with chalk but that makes no mention of the use of hand goop. So without rules, the gymnasts go crazy.
Each gymnast has their own method, like creating a honey, spit and chalk slurry or mixing honey and chalk with a spritz of saltwater. Some have even cooked up a beer and sugar mixture. What perhaps is most impressive though, is former US gymnast Trent Wells, who used gummy bears for a while. According to the WSJ:
"We thought it might be a little bit stickier solution than honey or Karo syrup," says Mr. Wells. After some experimentation with boiling the gummy bears in varying amounts of water, they created the ideal viscosity in a reddish goop. Mr. Wells eventually moved to a special sugar water that a chemist friend helped him brew.
It seems like women gymnast simply stick with just water and chalk but men gymnasts use so many different types of hand goop that the bars get quite gnarly. In fact, it gets so bad that gymnasts need to wash down and sandpaper each athlete's sticky gunk from the bars before they compete. Read more about the hand goop at WSJ. [WSJ, Image Credit AP]