July 28, 2012
It is summer time in a leap year and that can only mean one thing – the Olympic Games are just around the corner. The four yearly carnival of sport is here and the entire world will be watching the triumphs and failures of the sporting heroes and villains. Over 10,000 athletes from around the world will compete in 26 different sports, ranging from archery to wrestling and including many of the most popular sports in the world.
Over 19 days of top quality sports action we will get to find out exactly who is the best at each event. Scores of pub arguments and friendly wagers will settle while billions of people from around the world enjoy the action as it unfolds.
July 27 – August 3, Lords Cricket Ground
Archery is possibly one of the oldest events in the entire Olympic program, dating back nearly 10,000 years. Male and female archers compete in individual and team events with a maximum of six competitors from each country. Each archer takes aim at a 122cm target that lies 70m away and the highest scores win.
In Beijing, archers from South Korea were very successful, with both team gold medals and two individual silver medals. Im Dong-Hyun was part of the winning team last time – even though he is legally blind and competes without glasses or contact lenses!
August 3 – August 12, Olympic Stadium
Athletics, or track and field, is probably the most popular of all the Olympic disciplines and the one that most people talk about for long after the competition finishes. A total of 47 different medal competitions run, ranging from 100m up to the marathon and 50km race walk.
Traditionally, America has been successful in these events but in recent years the Jamaicans have overtaken at the shorter distances and the Africans at the longer distances. One of the highlights of the entire games will be Usain Bolt defending the three gold medals he won in Beijing (100m, 200m and 4x100m relay).
July 27 – August 4, Wembley Arena
Like tennis, badminton players compete in singles, doubles and mixed doubles tournaments with a total of five medals available.
Chinese athletes were extremely successful at the last Olympics, with eight medals going to competitors from that country. Lin Dan will hope to repeat his triumph from the last games, and his job will be easier after Beijing silver medallist Lee Chong Wei injured and missing the tournament.
July 28 – August 12, North Greenwich Arena and Olympic Park
This is one of the few opportunities that fans of the sport will get to watch many of the NBA superstars play together on the same team. The USA won both the men’s and women’s competitions last time around and will be strong favorites to repeat the feat in London, although some pundits are tipping Spain to spring a surprise in the men’s competition.
July 28 – August 9, Horse Guards Parade
One of the most popular spectator sports at the Olympics, with men in particular enjoying the girls playing in bikinis – although competitors might need to cover up in the London weather.
The USA has been particularly successful at Beach Volleyball, and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are aiming to win their third gold medal at this event.
July 28 – August 12, ExCel Arena
For the first time women will compete at the Olympic boxing tournament, giving fans of the sport more opportunity to watch fighting action in a total of 13 weight categories (10 men, 3 women). Many winners of boxing medals go on to the successful professional boxers, with world champions including Lennox Lewis, Amir Khan, Roy Jones Jr, Joe Frazier and George Foreman all winning Olympic medals in the past.
The USA has been traditionally successful in the boxing, but for a small country Cuba has a great history in the sport including winning eight medals at the last games.
Slalom: July 29 – August 4, Eton Dorney
Sprint: August 6 – August 11, Lee Valley
The sprint event is a straightforward race along a flat course with the first to cross the line taking the victory. Slalom events involve racing down a white water course passing through gates on the way. In both events, different letters signify the kind of craft and number of canoeists, with C indicating canoe where the competitors kneel and K indicating kayak where they sit down.
Both the sprint and slalom events are usually dominated by Europeans, with only eight medals going to competitors from outside this continent. Slovakian twins Pavol and Peter Hochschorner will hope to repeat their Beijing 2008 success in the men’s slalom C-2 event.
BMX: August 8 – August 10, Olympic Park BMX Track
Mountain Biking: August 11 – August 12, Hadleigh Farm
Road: July 28 – August 1, The Mall/Hampton Court
Track: August 2 – August 7, Olympic Velodrome
Cycling is one of the fastest sports in the entire games, with the top competitors reaching over 40miles per hour on their custom design bikes. Different events take place throughout the Olympics, and the road cycling routes take it out into the country around London so expect to see competitors lining the route.
On the track, Britain and Australia will go head to head in most events and it would be a surprise if the men’s team pursuit world record did not fall at least once during the competition. Many of the biggest names in world cycling will take part in the road race where Mark Cavendish will try to live up to his reputation as fastest man on two wheels.
July 29 – August 11, Olympic Park Aquatic Centre
Men and women compete against each other to perform the best dives from either a 3m springboard of a 10m platform. Each competitor performs six dives which they have to specify to the judges who then award marks out of ten.
Chinese divers took 11 of the 24 medals on offer in Beijing, including seven of the gold medals. Expect them to be equally dominant in London with Qiu Bo in particular looking very strong.
July 28 – August 9, Greenwich Park
The equestrian events make the competitors and their horses work together in synchronized harmony. It is one of the few events in the games that features mixed teams.
At the Beijing games, German Olympians took five medals out of 18, including 3 gold, while no other country won more than two medals. Expect them to dominate again this time around.
July 28 – August 5, ExCel Arena
Men and women individual and teams compete against each other with one of the three classes of fencing sword – epee, foil and sabre.
The USA women’s team all won individual medals with the sabre, but could only manage a team bronze medal. They will hope to improve this time in the team event.
Artistic: July 27 – August 8, North Greenwich Arena
Rhythmic: August 9 – August 12, Wembley Arena
Trampoline: August 3-4, North Greenwich Arena
Artistic gymnastics takes place on six pieces of equipment (men) or four pieces (women) to find out the best all-rounder and the best on each piece of equipment. In rhythmic gymnastics, the women competitors use hoops, ribbons, clubs and balls in their routine. Trampoline gymnastics is for the real high-flyers, with the competitors hoping to bounce 10m in the air during their routines.
The Chinese and Eastern European gymnastics have been the best in the world for a long time, and this is unlikely to change, but strong challengers exist on some of the equipment. Watch out for event specialists and crowd pleasers like Epke Zonderland on the men’s high bar and Louis Smith on the pommel horse.
July 28 – August 12, Olympic Park Copper Box and Basketball Arena
Handball is a popular ball sport where players try to throw the ball into the opposition goal. It is more physical than basketball and it plays on a larger court.
Last time around, the Icelandic men’s team won silver – the only medal for the country in the entire games.
29 July – !1 August, Olympic Park Riverbank Arena
Field hockey plays just like its frozen cousin, ice hockey, but on synthetic turf instead of a staking rink. Teams of 11 players use their sticks to move the ball around and try to get the ball into the opposition goal. Each team plays a number of group games and the best teams qualify for the final stages.
Last time around, Germany (men) and Spain (women) were victorious. Can either team repeat the feat this time?