London 2012 Guide to…Mountain Biking

MOUNTAIN BIKING is not quite as it sounds. If it was simply climbing mountains, then that would be pretty amazing, no, actually incredible!

But mountain biking is actually more like riding through a farm. And this is precisely what all 80 riders will be doing this summer in London.

  • Californication

Like fine wine and gold among other things, California is famous for being the place where mountain biking really took off. The sport was seen their in the 1970s in the hills of northern California and it soon became a worldwide activity.

The first World Championship took place in 1990 and Mountain Biking made its debut appearance in Atalanta in 1996.

  • Balance

Balance is key in Mountain Biking, and it’s not just about keeping two wheels on the ground.

It’s about negotiating the course in the quickest possible time, while trying to avoid damage to the bike (something very likely to happen considering the terrain).

The bikes are obviously light to help with speed but this makes them more prone to those little problems that can take vital seconds to repair.

And yes, riders do carry their own tool kit with them, so it’s DIY!

  • Mountain Biking in London

Men and women compete in separate races on Hadleigh Farm in Essex – with 50 male competitors and 30 female.

However, don’t bank on them all to finish, as only 28 men out fo 50 finished the course in Beijing.

The men’s course is approximately 45km, while the women’s is 35km. This consists of several laps of the course.

Riders lapped by the leader are eliminated though, as are those who have severely damaged their bike and are unable to repair it at the time.

  • Ones to watch out for

Julien Absalon will be hoping for a third successive gold medal in the men’s race, having won in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing four years later.

Sabine Spitz won women’s gold in 2008 and is one of the favourites for the title this summer.

And finally…

Look out for: punctures. Unfortunately for riders, all too common and will no doubt means the end of Olympic dreams for some of the riders.

Not to be confused with: the Tour de France’s mountain stages. It’s completely different.

Useless but informative fact: California’s Mount Tamalpais is known as the first mountain where the sport was first contested.

Mountain Biking in two words: stay on!

The Mountain Biking races take place over the weekend 11/12 August at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.

London 2012 Guide to…Badminton

  • Badminton is one of the three racket sports on offer at the Olympic Games.

It’s all thanks to the Duke of Beaufort that badminton is played in the UK. The Duke was a military officer, and brought back a version of the game from India in 1873. After introducing the game to acquaintances, the game proved to be extremely popular. Furthermore, since the Duke’s residence was called Badminton House, the name badminton was given to this new sport.

Although the origins of badminton lie in the UK, it is actually Asian players who have tended to dominate the sport in recent history having won an astonishing 69 out of the 76 medals available in the sport’s Olympic history.

  • Badminton began in Barca

The 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona was when badminton was first included on the Olympic schedule. There were four main events – the men’s and women’s singles and doubles competitions. The mixed doubles was introduced at the Games four years later in Atlanta – and it is these five which continue to this day.

  • What’s it all about?

It’s about hitting a shuttlecock around and trying to hit it inside the court, preventing the opponent from hitting an effective return. Badminton is played on a rectangular court which is split by a net, much like tennis except the net is raised in the air.

A game is best of three sets – and a set is won once the player or team reach 21 points. If the score is level at 21-21, then play continues until one side has a two-point advantage. So in theory this could continue endlessly, but in fact if the set still goes on, once it is 29-29, then the side to win the next point wins the set.

  • Wembley

Wembley Arena will be hosting the badminton tournaments at the Games. The tournament takes the normal format of group stages, followed by the knock out stages. 172 athletes will be taking part in the five events.

  • Ones to watch

‘Super Dan’ may sound like an actor, but Lin Dan is in fact a formidable badminton player. He is the current Olympic champion and considered by many to be the best player ever. The current number one, Malaysian Lee Chong Wei who won silver in Beijing in 2008 will no doubt pose a threat once again.

  • Local hopefuls

Nathan Robertson may well be a familiar name; the experienced Brit won a silver medal at the Athens games in 2004. He will be competing in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles. British number one Rajiv Ouseph is another one to keep an eye on in the men’s singles competition.

And Finally…

Look out for: the shuttlecock – it can travel over 250mph during a rally!

Not to be confused with: tennis, or any other racket sport for that matter.

Useless but informative fact: the feathers in a goose’s left wing are the best source for making a shuttlecock.

Badminton in two words: lightening reactions.

Badminton at the Wembley Arena will be on show between 28 July and 5August.

 

First things first…

Hello and welcome to my new blog, totally2012.

As the name suggests, it will be about 2012, but more specifically, sports in 2012, and even more specifically, the Olympic Games in London.

However, I’m not just aiming to cover just this amazing event (as I’m sure it will be), but I’ll also look at other sporting events from the Tour de France to Euro 2012, and much more.

But for now though, i.e. the next few weeks, I am going to concentrate on the Olympics, and have a look at some of the sports that we all have to look forward to next summer.

It might seem a long way away right now, but it will be on us in no time!

Thanks for reading so far and the next blog will be up very soon.