July 29, 2012
The Olympic Games are the greatest worldwide sporting event and every four years thousands of athletes from every corner of the world travel to compete for the chance to win a medal in their particular event. London 2012 will welcome athletes from 204 different countries competing in 26 sports over 19 days of the highest quality sporting action.
28 July – 3 August, ExCel Arena
Judo is one of the ancient Japanese martial arts where two competitors attempt to throw their opponent onto the mat (tatami) or get them in a hold. Each bout lasts five minutes and the winner is the judoka with the highest score. A score of Ippon is an immediate victory, and waza-ari and yuko are lower scores. Men and women compete in one of the seven weight categories available.
It is no surprise that Japan was the most successful country in Beijing, with a total of seven medals. They will be trying to do even better in London.
11 August – 12 August, Olympic Park Copper Box, Aquatics Centre and Greenwich Park
Modern pentathlon is an interesting combination of sports with the competitors battling it out over a fencing competition before swimming 200m freestyle in the pool and riding a show jumping course. Competitors get points for performance that converts into a handicap for the final 3km run combined with shooting. First person across the line wins.
Four medals in Beijing went to form Soviet countries, with Russia, Lithuania (two) and Ukraine all taking medals.
28 July – 4 August, Eton Dorney
Rowing events are straight races down the water with the first past the post taking the honors. Boats can either have a cox or be coxless and rowers sweep either a single oar or scull with two oars.
Great Britain took seven medals in Beijing and will be keen to repeat this success in front of the home crowd.
29 July – 11 August, Weymouth and Portland
With the exception of some soccer matches, the sailing events are the furthest away from London. Sailors race over a number of days and the best performers over the entire series wins the medals. The different classes of boats increase in size and need more crew to sail.
Triple Olympic champion Ben Ainslie will be hoping for his fourth successive gold medal in the laser class. The last time he was beaten in Olympic competition was at his first Olympics at Atlanta in 1996 when he left with a silver medal.
28 July – 6 August, Royal Artillery Barracks
Athletes take aim with a rifle or pistol at targets that are a set distance (10m, 25m or 50m) away from them. Shotguns shoot at clay target. Scores add up over a number of rounds and the highest scores win.
In Beijing, the Chinese team came out with a total of eight medals – just beating the USA by two medals. One of the American medallists was Matthew Emmons who met and later married a Czech competitor called Katerina Kurkova that he met at the Athens Olympics. She took gold in Beijing setting two world records on the way, including a perfect 400 in qualifying.
25 July – 11 August, Various stadiums
Unlike most major football competitions, the men’s tournament features team mostly composed of Under 23 players with three older players. Many of the players play at the highest level in the top leagues in Europe and South America. The women’s soccer match between Great Britain and New Zealand was the first sporting contest of the Olympic Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.
The Brazil team consists of superstars such as Neymar, Oscar and Hulk and is the strong favorite for the gold. In the female competition, the USA will hope to repeat their success from Beijing but will face competition from world champions Japan.
28 July – 4 August, Aquatics Centre and Hyde Park
Swimming is one of the most popular sports in the entire Olympic Games and has been part of every modern Olympics. Competitors swim over a variety of distances from 50m up to 1500m in the pool and 10km open water in Hyde Park.
One of the highlights of the Beijing Games was the performance of Michael Phelps who won an amazing eight gold medals making him the most successful Olympian of all time. He also won six gold and two bronze medals in Athens for a total of 16 Olympic Medals. This time around he will compete in seven events – many against his American teammate and rival Ryan Lochte.
5 August – 10 August, Aquatics Centre
Synchronized swimming involves swimmers performing beautiful routines while underwater. It originally started as a sport for men, but is now one of only two women-only events.
In 2008, Russia took both gold medals and Spain both silvers. Both countries will be looking to take gold this time around.
28 July – 9 August, ExCel
Originally an after-dinner game played by the upper-class English, this is now the most popular participation sport in the world.
Chinese athletes won every medal that was available to them in Beijing – 2 team gold and six individual medals.
8 August – 11 August, ExCel
Taekwondo is one of the newest Olympic sports, first appearing as a demonstration in Seoul 1988 but only being a full sport until Sydney 2000. The name of this South Korean martial art translates to English as “the way of foot and fist”.
As the national sport of South Korea, the athletes from that country were very successful in 2008, winning four of the eight gold medals on offer.
28 July – 5 August, Wimbledon
The top tennis players in the world will return to Wimbledon only a few weeks after the end of the famous tennis tournament. These athletes are among the highest paid and most famous worldwide in the entire Olympics.
Rafael Nadal will not be able to defend his title due to a knee injury, but Roger Federer will try to add Olympic Gold to his impressive list of tournament victories.
4 August – 7 August, Hyde Park
Another sport that only joined the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, triathlon is an intense combination of swimming, cycling and running. Competitors will swim 1,500m then cycle 43km before finishing with a 10km run.
The men’s competition will see the British Brownlee brothers battling it out for the medals. Older brother Alistair is the reigning world champion, while younger brother Jonathan finished in second.
28 July – 12 August, Earls Court
Volleyball is a fast paced game with teams of six attempting to get the ball over the 2.43m high net and onto the floor in the opposition half of the 18m x9m court.
The USA and Brazil teams each won one gold and one silver medal in Beijing. Both will be hoping to make it two gold medals this time.
29 July – 12 August, Water Polo Arena
Originally a water version of rugby that was played in rivers and lakes, but the modern sport is actually closer to handball.
The USA won two silver medals in Beijing, and will be among the favorite teams to take the gold medals this time.
28 July – 7 August, ExCel
The ultimate test of strength, weightlifting involves the competitors lifting weights in two different lifts – the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.
Asian countries are strong in weightlifting, with 14 of the 15 on offer in Beijing going to athletes from that part of the world.
5 August – 12 August, ExCel
Wrestling is one of the oldest known sports, dating back to the ancient Olympics in 708BC. Wrestlers compete in two different forms of the sport; Greco-Roman and Freestyle.
Russia was the most successful country in Beijing, with athletes taking 11 of the medals on offer.