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…Wrestling

 

 

OLYMPIC Wrestling goes all the way back to 706BC in the Ancient Games.

It was seen as the ultimate test of strength, stamina and skill between two men.

Women then came on in the act, competing for the first time in 2004.

  • Objectives

The aim in wrestling is to overpower your opponent and pin them to the ground – not literally.

The more stylish the flips and throws are, the more points are awarded.

The contest is over three rounds, so if a pin is not secured, it is decided on points.

  • Two disciplines

Greco-Roman is when only the upper body and arms are able to be used, while in freestyle, the whole body is permitted.

  • Favourites

Russia, Sweden and Finland tend to dominate the Greco-Roman format, with the USA, Russia and Japan the ones to watch in freestyle.

  • Weightlifting in London

Weightlifting takes place in the ExCeL, with 344 athletes taking part in 18 different categories.

And finally…

Look out for: bone crunching moves.

Not to be confused with: your everyday fight.

Useless but informative fact: the longest Olympic wrestling match took 11 hours in Stockholm in 1912.

Wrestling in two words: brutal extravagance.

Wrestling takes place between Sunday 5 and Sunday 12 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…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…Trampolining

 

Despite being invented in the 1930s, trampolining was only introduced to the Olympics in 2000.

Trampolinists require a combination of strength, timing and grace all matched to perfection to claim a medal.

Style, difficulty and finishing are assessed by a panel of nine judges.

  • Trampolining in London

There are just two events – one each for men and women so the pressure is on right from the off.

And finally…

Look out for: someone hitting the ceiling. You never know.

Not to be confused with: bouncing around in the back garden.

Useless but informative fact: Trampolines in London will be 5.05m long, 2.91m wide and 1.15m high.

Trampolining in two words: great fun.

Trampolining takes places on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th August at the North Greenwich Arena (the o2).

 

London 2012 Guide to…Artistic Gymnastics

 

 

ARTISTIC Gymnastics is exactly how it sounds. Far more than just a few somersaults, gymnasts turn the sport in to a real art form using strength, flexibility and skill.

Athletes compete for the best all-round, individual and team performances on each piece of apparatus.

Men tackle the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and the horizontal bar.

Women perform on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and the floor.

  • Get down on the floor

Floor exercises are performed on a sprung floor – this helps the gymnast’s routine, giving bounce and protection when landing. The exercises last for approximately 90 seconds, and are accompanied with music.

  • The pommel horse

Only used (or should it be rode) by men, this involves single and double leg work.

Points are deducted for a variety of reasons, including not passing through the handstand position when dismounting, not using all sections of the horse and pausing.

  • The rings

Like the horse, only used by men, the rings require considerable upper body strength. Exercises consist of swing, strength and hold elements, with the execution of these determining an overall score.

  • The best of the rest

The vault is tackled by men and women, with speed and technique key to the performance.

Parallel bars are used by men only, and typical routines see a variety of swinging skills.

You’ll be able to see a mixture of multiple twists and flips on the horizontal bar and spins on the uneven bars.

The balance beam brings out the best in the gymnasts, with extremely diffIcUlt moves attempted.

  • Artistic Gymnastics in London

The North Greenwich Arena (the O2) is hosting the Artistic Gymnastic events.

196 men and women will be competing in 14 different disciplines.

And finally…

Look out for: the tears. Unfortunately, there’s always one gymnast whose routine does not quite turn out as they had hoped. And that’s their Olympic dreams shattered.

Not to be confused with: ballet, and nightclubs. Dancing (ish) and music. Why not?

Useless but informative fact: Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto broke his kneecap during his floor routine, but went on to perform on the pommel horse and rings to help his country secure gold at the Montreal Games in 1976.

Artistic Gymnastics in two words: power, poise.

Artistic Gymnastics start on Saturday 28th July and end on Tuesday 7th August.

 

London 2012 Guide to…Diving

BACK in 1904 it was called Fancy Diving and the two disciplines were the ‘Fancy High Dive’ and the ‘Plunge for Distance’. 

Fast forward to 2012 and diving has come along way since its introduction to the Olympics in St Louis in the early 20th century.

It’s now one of four aquatic sports at the Olympics, alongside swimming, water polo and synchronised swimming.

  • How it works

A panel of judges grade each diver from one to 10, for the level and performance of each dive. Simple really.

  • The Superpowers

China dominated diving in Beijing in 2008, while the USA has a formidable Olympic  diving record.

The Chinese won seven out of a possible eight golds four years ago, while the Americans have 131 medals in total, including 48 golds.

However, the Chinese are the ones to watch, as they are a relatively new addition to the sport. The country was initially banned from competing due to its government and was only allowed in at the Games in 1984. Since then it has topped all but one of the Olympic diving tables.

  • Diving in London

Divers will compete from two boards: the 3m springboard and the 10m fixed platform, meaning there will be four events each for men and women.

They are the 3m springboard, 10m platform, 3m synchronised springboard and the 10m synchronised platform.

There are 68 men and 68 women competing in the events.

Synchronised diving is making only its fourth Olympic appearance, having debuted in Sydney in 2000.

  • Daley’s the real deal

Despite coming home empty-handed from Beijing as a 14-year-old, British sensation Tom Daley has since won two Commonwealth Games gold medals and is currently 10m platform World Champion.

A nation expects.

And finally…

Look out for: a splash in the water. That probably means it’s game over as the idea is to make as little as possible (well, ideally nothing).

Not to be confused with: Premiership football at 3pm on Saturday afternoons.

Useless but informative fact: 180,000 tiles have been used to line the pools in the Aquatics Centre.

Diving in two words: pure concentration.

Olympic diving events start on Sunday 29th July and finish on Saturday 11th August.