Trampolines are variously said to have originated in China, Persia and Egypt. Some believe that trampolining was done first by the Inuit people who used to toss each other into the air on a walrus skin, something like the sheet used by firemen to catch people jumping out of burning buildings. The modern trampoline was invented in the 20th century in America.
George Nissan and Larry Griswold a gymnast and assistant coach used their experiences of training with and mending safety nets used by trapeze artists to come up with the first portable trampoline in 1936. On a modern competitive trampoline a skilled athlete can bounce to a height of up to ten meters, performing multiple somersaults and twists.
The first individual trampolining competitions were held in colleges and schools in the USA and then in Europe. This paved the way for the first World Championships, which were held in London in 1964.Trampolining featured as a sport in gymnastic competitions from 1947, but took until 1967 for the sport to be recognized in its own right.
At first the Americans ruled the roost at the World Championships, but soon European competitors began to dominate the sport and for a number of years, athletes from the former Soviet Union have often dominated the sport. Germany and France have been the other strong nations in trampolining
Trampolining has been part of the Olympic Games since 2000. Trampolines also feature in the competitive sport of Slamball, a variant of basketball, and Bossaball, a variant of volleyball. Since trampolining became an Olympic sport, many more countries have started developing programs and Japan and China are already producing very competitive athletes.
For the last twenty years or so, Garden Trampolines have become a trend, particularly in the US , and have served to increase the interest in the sport. This boom in residential trampolines also translates into more potential high end athletes.
Today, trampolining is popular the world over, even in China and India. The Trampoline Medals at the 2008 Olympics were won by China, Canada and Uzbekistan.