Preview of the London 2012 Paralympics

 

As the euphoria of the Olympic Games fades away, it is now the turn of the Paralympics to take centre stage in London.

And if it’s half as good as the Olympics, we’ll be in for another real sporting treat.

You may not know too much about the Paralympics themselves, but as this is set to be the second biggest sporting event EVER in Britain, here’s a short guide of what to expect over the next couple of weeks!

  • Athletes will be competing across 20 different sports (21 disciplines as there is track and road cycling), and there are six broad categories in which they take part.
  • These are wheelchair, amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, visually impaired and Les Autres, for athletes who do not fall into any of those categories, such as dwarfism or multiple sclerosis.

Sports

  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Boccia
  • Cycling – Road and Track
  • Equestrian
  • Football 5-a-side
  • Football 7-a-side
  • Goalball
  • Judo
  • Powerlifting
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Wheelchair Basketball
  • Wheelchair Fencing
  • Wheelchair Rugby
  • Wheelchair Tennis

Team GB chances?

Team GB are second in the overall table, including an incredible 493 gold medals. Bet your house on them surpassing 500 this time around.

Medals table

  1. USA: 666 gold, 586 silver, 589 bronze.
  2. Great Britain: 493, 470, 463.
  3. Germany: 433, 425, 399.

Best ever?

American Trischa Zorn is the most decorated Paralympian of all time.

55 medals, of which 41 are gold says it all really.

And finally, here’s a couple of videos to get you in the mood…

The Paralympic Games will leave you fascinated, mesmerised, bamboozled and probably exhausted.

They will be very different to anything ever seen on these shores in terms of sporting events. And more than likely, they won’t be back for some time yet.

So relish the moment, and admire these outstanding athletes.

And most of all, enjoy it!

The 2012 Paralympic Games begin on Wednesday, 29 August, and end on  Sunday, 9 September.

 

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.

London 2012 Guide to…Football

 

 

IF you were asked which country leads the Olympic medal table, I am sure very few of you would have said the USA.

It might sound strange, but it’s true – they head the overall table with three golds, two silver and one bronze medal.

  • Olympic football history

Men’s football first appeared at the Games in 1908 in London, and has appeared in every Games since then, apart from the 1932 Olympics in LA.

Women’s football started relatively recently, in 1996 in Atalanta.

It wasn’t until 1992 when all professionals under 23 were allowed to compete and the IOC permitted three over-age players to compete from 1996 onwards.

The women’s event has no restrictions.

  • Football in London

There are 16 men’s teams, and 12 women’s. They all play group matches before the knock-out stage, where extra-time will be played if required. That’s a total of 504 athletes if you wanted to know.

Matches are taking place across the country – in Glasgow, Coventry, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and, of course,  London.

  • Team GB

Stuart Pearce’s side boasts everything from the raw talent of Micah Richards to the evergreen Ryan Giggs. It will be interesting to see how they come up against the likes of Brazilians Neymar and Alexandre Pato.

And Finally…

Look out for: James Tomkins. (GB – West Ham player). Someone has to be the star.

Not to be confused with: the European Championships, the World Cup, Copa America, the Premier League, in fact any other football tournament.

Useless but informative fact: rather surprisingly, Brazil have only won two football medals at the Olympics – both silvers in the 1980s.

Football in two words: more football!

Olympic Football starts on Wednesday 25th July (yes, that’s correct), finishing on Saturday 11th August.

 

 

London 2012 Guide to…Track Cycling

BRITAIN’S domination of the track cycling events in Beijing has made this summer’s competition one of the most eagerly anticipated by Team GB and fans alike.

A return of seven gold medals out of a possible nine was a phenomenal achievement, led by Sir Chris Hoy, who claimed three of them in Beijing in 2008.

  • Speed counts

Of course, in most of the Olympic sports, it is the fastest man/woman who collects gold.

And cycling is no different, and speed really does count. Medals can be decided on split seconds, so riders use every possible method  (legally!) to maximise their chances on the track.

From shaving your arms to having no brakes on your bike, it’s all done to be as aero-dynamic as possible.

  • Tour de force

The French are top of the track cycling medal table, with a staggering 40 gold medals. GB lie in third behind the Italians who are second.

  • Track Cycling in London

188 athletes (104 men, 84 women) will take part in 10 medal events – five each for men and women.

  • The five disciplines

The Sprint: two riders race each other over three laps. Sounds simple but it’s all about tactics, as they both start off extremely slowly before unleashing an explosion of pace as they bid to outpace each other to the finish line.

Keirin: a seven rider race over 2km. The cyclists follow a pace-setting motorbike until 700m to go in the race. It is then a free-for-all leading to a frantic finale.

Omnium: a new event, where riders are assessed in six different categories. Points are awarded in reverse order, with the rider having the least obtaining gold. The six events are: timed flying lap, points’ race, elimination race, individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial.

Team Sprint: a three lap race between two teams that each have three riders.  The teams start on opposite sides of the Velodrome and each rider pulls off until it’s a head-to-head for the final lap.

Team Pursuit: men’s teams are composed of four riders, while women are made up of three. The track distance is 4km for men and 3km for women. Teams start on opposite sides, so there are two ways of winning: either by overtaking your opponent or by finishing fastest. Sounds simple!

  • Ones to watch

Hoy and Victoria Pendleton lead the British contingent, and Hoy has backed Team GB to secure all 10 gold medals. 19-year-old Laura Trott is also one to keep an eye on, having won two world titles already at the world track championships.

Meanwhile, Aussie Anne Meares looks set to renew her rivalry with Pendleton, while France’s Gregory Bauge and Kevin Sireau, and the German trio of Robert Fostermann, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Nimke will all attempt to stop British dominance.

And finally…

Look out for: broken pieces of record. Likely to be done.

Not to be confused with: those magnificent men and their flying machines. Sounds similar, but that was a film from the 60s…

Useless but informative fact: the velodrome is made from 56km of sustainable Siberian pine and was fixed into place with 300,000 nails.

Track cycling in two words: flippin’ fast.

The Track Cycling races take place at the Velodrome, between Thursday 2nd and Tuesday 7th August.

Do you think Sir Chris Hoy will dominate once again?

Leave your thoughts/tips below!

Follow me on Twitter: @jonathanl50

London 2012 Guide to…Road Cycling

THE Road Cycling events are always extremely popular among sports fans, and this summer should be no different.

And with our very own Mark Cavendish being one of the favourites, road cycling is seen as one of Team GB’s best chances of claiming gold.

  • Dodgy start

Cycling had a stuttering start to the Olympics.

It was one of the sports in Athens at the first modern Games in 1896, but it was dropped from the next three Games, returning in 1912.

  • Road cycling in London

There will be two medals apiece for male and female cyclists this summer – one for the road race and one for the time trial.

A total of 212 cyclists will be competing: 145 men and 67 women.

The road race is 250km for men and 140km for women, and will start and finish in The Mall.

The time trial is over 44km for men and 29km for women, and Hampton Court Palace is the beginning and end for this race.

Each rider starts 90 seconds apart, so if they are caught, it’s curtains so I’d recommend they simply admire the views.

  • Ones to watch

Cavendish is obviously the one to keep your eyes on (providing you’re running alongside him). The ‘Manxman’ is the world’s best sprinter, so no pressure then.

Another Brit, Nicole Cooke won road race gold in Beijing, so a repeat of that would do just nicely.

  • Va Va Voom

France are top of the cycling medals’ table, with a total of 86 medals, including 40 gold.

Italy lie in second place, with Britain in third with an overall tally of 63 medals.

And Finally…

Look out for: crashes at the end of the road race. They’re not inevitable, but if there’s a large amount of riders 500m from the finish line all going for one medal, well, you get the gist.

Not to be confused with: the Tour de France. Yes it’s in the same month, it’s lots of cyclists on a road, and it’s brutal, but there’s no yellow, green or polka-dot jerseys, it’s over in a matter of days and of course it’s in England!

Useless but informative fact: Hampton Court Palace is one of just two surviving palaces which were owned by Henry VIII. (The other is St James’s Palace)

Road cycling in two words: extremely competitive.

The road races and time trials will take place between Saturday 28th July and Wednesday 1st August.

Do you think Cavendish will win gold?

Leave your thoughts below.

Follow me on Twitter: @jonathanl50