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.

 

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London 2012 Guide to…Water Polo

 

WATER POLO was originally seen as an aquatic form of rugby.

However, it is actually more akin to handball, but a lot more difficult!

  • How it works

Water Polo is a seven-a-side game, and a game is divided into four periods, each lasting eight minutes.

A team has 30 seconds when in possession to score, otherwise the ball is given to the opposition.

Touching the bottom of the pool, or its side is forbidden.

  • Water Polo in London

Water Polo is taking place in a specifically constructed arena in the Olympic Park.

Teams are divided in to two groups, before progressing to the knock-out games.

And finally…

Look out for: cheating – or ‘ways of gaining an advantage’. Not everyone can see what goes on under the water.

Not to be confused with: Polo. No similarities at all apart from the name!

Useless but informative fact: the longest running water polo is competition is played between Oxford and Cambridge universities, starting way back in 1891.

Water Polo in two words: splash ‘n’ grab.

Water Polo takes place at the Water Polo Arena from Sunday 29 July to Sunday 12 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…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…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…Modern Pentathlon

The Modern Pentathlon is contested over just one day.

It starts with fencing, with all athletes competing against one another, and this is followed by a 200m freestyle swim and a horse-riding event over 12 jumps.

The scores from these three events are then converted into a time handicap, for the new, combined shooting and running competition.

  • Modern Pentathlon in London

The Modern Pentathlon all takes place over a day so there’s no time for respite or a nap.

There’s 36 men and 36 women each competing for a single gold medal.

And Finally…

Look out for: some extremely talented athletes.

Not to be confused with: an army training course.

Useless but informative fact: certain European military academies have adopted the Modern Pentathlon as a final test for their soldiers.

Modern Pentathlon in two words: skill, concentration.

Modern Pentathlon takes place over the weekend 11/12 August at three venues – the Handball Arena, Aquatics Centre and Greenwich Park.