London 2012 Guide to…Taekwondo

TAEKWONDO emerged in the South Korean military in the 1950s.

The word is roughly translated as ‘the art of foot and fist’.

The sport is seen as the most popular martial art in the world.

  • More than a fight

There more ways to attack, compared with boxing or wrestling, making it more attractive for spectators. Kicks and punches are used, including scissor kicks and quick spinning.

  • Taekwondo in London

128 athletes will be competing in eight events, of various weight categories.

And finally…

Look out for: Sarah Stevenson. The Brit won a bronze in Beijing and will be hoping for another medal inĀ  her home games.

Not to be confused with: boxing.

Useless but informative fact: kicking is used because the Koreans felt the hands were needed for combat, so too important to use.

Taekwondo in two words: aggression needed.

Taekwondo will be at the ExCeL between Wednesday 8 and Saturday 11 August.



London 2012 Guide to…Table Tennis


OVER 20% of the world’s population play table tennis, making it one of the world’s most played sports.

The game was initially played in Britain in the early 1900s, but it is now China who are really masters of the game.

  • Table Tennis in London

172 players will be competing in four events, with the Chinese odds-on favourite to be among the medals.

The have won an incredible 20 gold medals, with the nearest challengers South Korea who only have three.

  • It’s quick

Table Tennis is played at a lightning pace, and you really have to see up close to see the different techniques used by players to get the better of their opponents.

And finally…

Look out for: long rallies. They are actually quite rare but when they do occur, they are certainly to be admired.

Not to be confused with: Tennis.

Useless but informative fact: In exchanges, the ball can travel at 100mph.

Table Tennis in two words: Ping Pong.

Table Tennis takes place at the ExCeL between Saturday 28th July and Wednesday 8th August.


London 2012 Guide to…Synchronised Swimming


SYNCHRONISED Swimming was introduced at the London Games in 1948 but was only given competitive status in 1984 at the Games in LA.

It is a women-only event, and 104 athletes will be competing in London this summer.

  • How it works

Pairs or teams of eight perform a short routine accompanied to musicĀ  in front of a panel of 10 judges.

The judges are divided up, with one half awarding marks for artistry, while the other assesses technical merit.

  • Synchronised Swimming in London

Synchronised Swimming events will be held at the Aquatics Centre, with duets and teams performing two routines – technical and freestyle.


And finally…

Look out for: the Russians. They have claimed every gold medal in the past three games.

Not to be confused with: water aerobics.

Useless but informative fact: Synchronised swimmers can were nose clips, but not goggles.

Synchronised Swimming in two words: endurance, flexibility.

Synchronised Swimming takes place at the Aquatics Centre between Sunday 5 August and Friday 10 August.


London 2012 Guide to…Swimming


SWIMMING is one of the Olympic’s most popular sports and also one with the largest number of events, ensuring there are many medals up for grabs.

The four recognised strokes – freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke are all tested over varying lengths.

It is, therefore, possible to win a number of medals, as Michael Phelps – The Baltimore Bullet – demonstrated in Beijing by claiming eight golds. He is certainly the one to watch.

  • Medals galore

The USA can proudly boast 214 swimming gold medals, by far and away the most of any nation. Their total is 489, so the 500 should be easily reached in London.

  • Swimming in London

950 Athletes will be competing in 34 events at the Aquatics Centre for the pool events, and Hyde Park for the Marathon Swimming.

And finally…

Look out for: Rebecca Adlington – will look to build on her two golds from Beijing and will have a great chance with no doubt very vocal home support.

Not to be confused with: a load of athletes splashing around in the water.

Useless but informative fact: until 1956, the butterfly stroke was allowed in the breaststroke races.

Swimming in two words: strength, timing.

Swimming begins on 28th July and finishes on Saturday 4th August, with the Marathon Swimming taking place over Thursday 9th and Friday 10th August.


London 2012 Guide to…Shooting



SHOOTING was just one of the nine events held at the first modern Games in 1896.

The sport has three disciplines, using the pistol, shotgun and rifle.

  • Shooting in London

There will be 15 different events at the Royal Artillery Barracks, with 390 athletes taking part.

  • Superpowers

The USA have had by far the most success in this event, with 50 gold medals over the years.

China and Russia lie behind them, but quite a way down. The Chinese won five golds in Beijing though, so watch out for them.

And finally…

Look out for: a stray bullet. Always one.

Not to be confused with: duels or arcade games.

Useless but informative fact: British shooters have to train abroad because of a ban on handguns in the UK.

Shooting in two words: hit target.

Shooting takes place between Saturday 28th July and Monday, 6th August.


London 2012 Guide to…Sailing


BRITAIN were the most successful nation at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, which means it’ll be the same in London, right?

So it’s not a guarantee, but everyone is hopeful more success will come once again to Britain’s sailors.

Team GB lead the all-time sailing medal table with 49 medals overall, including 24 gold.

  • Sailing in London

First things first, sailing will not actually be happening in London!

Weymouth and Portland will be hosting the event, which sees 10 separate competitions.

There will be 380 athletes competing.

  • Races

There are two types of racing in sailing.

Match racing is between two boats, while fleet racing is where there is a mass start.

Competitors race initially in a round-robin format, before the knock-out stages

Match racing is often the more exciting, due to its cat and mouse nature.

And finally…

Look out for: Ben Ainslie – will become Britain’s most successful sailor ever should he win gold. He is already three-time Olympic champion.

Not to be confused with: a jolly on the water.

Useless but informative fact: the sport’s name was changed from yachting at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Sailing in two words: stay afloat.

Sailing events take place between Sunday 29th July and Saturday 11th August, at Weymouth and Portland.


London 2012 Guide to…Rowing

ROWING has been at every Olympics since 1900. It would have been at the Games four years later were it not for bad weather!

  • Rowing in London

There will be 14 rowing events, eight for men and six for women, ranging from single and double sculls to coxless pairs. A scull is a type of boat and a cox directs the crew from the front.

Every race is over 2km, and the competition starts with heats which eliminate slower crews.

  • Proud to be British

GB has an excellent rowing history, led by Sir Steve Redgrave.

Britain were also the leading nation at the Games four years ago, and they lie third on the all-time medals table, with 54 medals including 24 gold.

And finally…

Look out for: Sir Steve Redgrave. One of Team GB’s most famous Olympians, the five-time gold medallist will no doubt be making regular appearances – not on the water, mind you.

Not to be confused with: two people having a heated argument.

Useless but informative fact: rowing is the only sport where competitors cross the line backwards.

Rowing in two words: utter exhaustion.

Rowing starts at Eton Dorney on Saturday 28th July and finishes on 4th August.