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…Weightlifting

 

 

WEIGHTLIFTING featured at the first modern Games in 1896, but only became a constant from 1920 onwards.

The heaviest weight ever lifted was 263.5kg by Iranian Hossein Rezazadeh in 2004 – that’s the equivalent of two baby elephants!

  • How it works

Two moves must be completed.

The ‘snatch’ requires the bar to be lifted from the floor to above the head in one quick movement.

And the ‘clean and jerk’ is when athletes must bring the bar up to their shoulders, then extend it above the head in a separate movement.

  • Weightlifting in London

260 athletes will be competing in 15 different events – eight for men and seven for women.

The Eastern European countries and China will once again be the nations in and among the medals.

And finally…

Look out for: ecstatic weightlifters. The sport can get you very emotional, so when something is achieved, you’ll see it alright.

Not to be confused with: people trying to get fit.

Useless but informative fact: strongest weightlifters can lift more than three times their body weight.

Weightlifting in two words: Explosive strength.

The weightlifting events take place at the ExCeL, from Saturday 28 July to Tuesday 7 August.

 

London 2012 Guide to…Volleyball

 

 

VOLLEYBALL was invented by a group of students in the USA in 1895 who found basketball too physically demanding.

They came up with what is now volleyball, which has more than 220 national federations.

USA (again), Russia and Brazil are traditional strong sides in volleyball.

  • Volleyball in London

There will be 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s competing at Earl’s Court.

The 12 are split in to two groups of six, and the teams play each other, before the top four qualify for the knock-out stages.

  • The all-important  rules

A point is won if the ball touches the ground in the opponent’s court or it is hit out by the opposition.

Only three touches are allowed by a team before the ball must be returned to the other side.

And finally…

Look out for: a flying ball. With lots of players on the court and the ball travelling at fast speeds, the ball can land up literally anyway.

Not to be confused with: Handball. Lots of players throwing a ball around, so understandable.

Useless but informative fact: The tallest volleyball player ever is Aleksey Kazakov, standing at 7″2.

Volleyball in two words: fast, frenetic.

Volleyball takes place at Earl’s Court between Saturday 28 July and Sunday 12 August.

 

London 2012 Guide to…Triathlon

 

THE Triathlon combines three stamina-based sports – swimming, cycling and running.

Competitors begin with a 1500m open-water swim, cycle for 40km and finish off with a 10km run.

Not forgetting the change-overs too, adjusting from swimming gear to cycling gear for example, it all takes time!

  • Triathlon in London

Hyde Park is playing host to the Triathlon with 110 men and women competing for gold medals.

Half a million people lined the streets at the Triathlon’s debut appearance in Sydney in 2000, and similar crowds are expected this summer in the English capital.

And finally…

Look out for: athletes collapsing at the end. This event takes a massive toll on the body.

Not to be confused with: athletes who cannot get in to one single event. They are by no way inferior!

Useless but informative fact: F1 driver Jenson Button regular competes in triathlons.

Triathlon in two words: mental challenge.

The Triathlon takes place across Hyde Park on Saturday 4 and Tuesday 7 August.

 

London 2012 Guide to…Tennis

 

 

TENNIS will be taking place at Wimbledon, just weeks after the Grand Slam there.

Players sometimes tend to pull out from the tournament to focus on the US Open, but there still promises to be some of the world’s top players, and this year Roger Federer is competing, arguably the greatest player ever.

  • Tennis in London

There will be five events at Wimbledon, with 172 players starting off.

The USA have a strong record in Olympic Tennis, with 17 gold medals, although Britain lie second only one behind on 16.

And finally…

Look out for: Roger Federer. The world’s greatest. Make the most of him while you can.

Not to be confused with: Wimbledon Grand Slam. Same location but different event.

Useless but informative fact: the last time the Olympic tennis event was held at Wimbledon was in 1908.

Tennis in two words: come-on Tim!

Tennis starts on 28th July and lasts until Sunday, 5th 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 music  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.