The beam is 10 centimetres wide and five metres long. Gymnasts perform daring exercises while perched 1.25m above the floor. Routines must include a variety of acrobatic elements, such as jumps and leaps, turns, steps, combinations of walking and running steps, as well as wave and balance elements performed in a standing, sitting or lying position.
The gymnast must use the entire length of the apparatus, while expressing elegance, flexibility, confidence and self-control. The maximum required time for the beam exercise is one minute 30 seconds.
The Olympic Artistic Gymnastics competition has four phases: qualification, Team final, Individual All-Around final and individual apparatus finals.
All gymnasts compete in the qualifications. The best eight teams then go through to the Team final, where three team members compete on each apparatus. Teams are ranked on their total score.
The best 24 individual gymnasts (maximum two from each country) go through to the Individual All-Around final, where gymnasts compete on all apparatus. The best eight gymnasts on each apparatus (maximum two from each country) go through to the individual apparatus finals.
Each apparatus is judged for difficulty and execution, with the highest scoring athlete the winner.
For further information please refer to the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
Find out more about the Artistic Gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games on the International Olympic Committee website.