The Amanar Vault in Gymnastic Competition

The Move That Won 2012 Olympic Gold in Gymnastics

Pauline Tratz of TG Karlsruhe-Soellingen competes in the Vault during the DTL Finals 2015 at Messehalle 2 on December 5, 2015 in Karlsruhe, Germany. (Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Amanar is a Yurchenko-style vault (also known as the Yurchenko 2.5), meaning that the gymnast performs a round-off onto the board, a back handspring onto the horse, and a flip off. In the Amanar, the flip off the horse is a 2.5 twisting layout back flip. The vault is named after Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar, who performed it at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Example of an Amanar Vault

To see a Yurchenko-style vault in action, watch Cheng Fei (China) perform an Amanar vault in this video.

First Performance

Amanar was one of the best vaulters of all time, and won the 1996 Olympic title on that event -- but she actually stumbled on her namesake vault when she performed it at the 2000 Games. (Watch Amanar do her vault.) She ended up in sixth place in the finals.

Meanwhile, Russian gymnast Elena Zamolodchikova could also perform the same vault, but opted to only do a double twist in vault finals -- and she won gold that day. Amanar's gamble earned her her name in the Code of Points, but not another Olympic gold medal.

A Decider in Major Gymnastic Competitions

Though Romanian Simona Amanar pioneered it, the American women have since made it their vault, and it was key to the U.S. women's Olympic team victory in London in 2012, as well as at worlds in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

In 2012, all three of the Americans performed the Amanar vault in team finals, allowing the team to pull ahead of second-place Russia by nearly two points after the first rotation, and out-distancing the team from eventual bronze medalist Romania by more than three points in that event.

These are enormous margins in the sport. US gymnast McKayla Maroney earned an improbable 16.233 -- the only score above 16 in the entire competition. And that stuck vault has gone on to become legendary: Watch McKayla Maroney's Amanar vault here.