|The Olympic Games- what you didn't know before.||16/03/2012|
The 2012 Olympics are only four months away now, but how much do you know about the sports that will take part in London this summer?
Archery- Hollywood actress Geena Davis took part in US trials for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Archery team.
Athletics- The first ever modern Olympic champion was James B. Connolly, who won gold in the triple jump final, which was held on the opening day of the Athens games in 1896.
Badminton- The game is named after the residence of Britain's Duke of Beaufort, where it supposedly originated 1873.
Basketball- Manute Bol is thought to be the tallest ever Olympian. He was 7’ 7” and played basketball for Sudan.
Beach Volleyball- The United States has won five of the eight Olympic gold medals awarded since the sport’s introduction to the Games in 1996.
Boxing- Boxers are not allowed to box past the age of 34.
Canoe Slalom- Red gates must be negotiated upstream, while green gates must be negotiated downstream.
Canoe Sprint- The oldest Canoe club in the world, the Royal Canoe Club of London, was founded in 1866.
Cycling (BMX)- BMX made its debut at the Beijing 2008 Games.
Cycling (Mountain Bike)- The riders all start together and race over a course with each lap between three and six kilometres.
Cycling (Road)- Canada’s Clara Hughes is one of only four people to have won medals at the Summer Olympic Games and Winter Olympic Games. In Atlanta 1996, she took Bronze in the Individual Road Race and Individual Time Trial, while in Salt Lake City 2002 she won Bronze in the 5000m Speed Skating.
Cycling (Track)- Track bikes have a fixed wheel and no brakes: riders stop by putting pressure on the pedals.
Equestrian (Dressage)- An Olympic dressage arena measures 60m x 20m.
Equestrian (Eventing) - The only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against each other on equal terms is equestrian events. The first woman to participate in an Olympic three-day event was Lana DuPont, who took part in the Tokyo Games with Mr. Wister, finishing thirty-third.
Equestrian (Jumping)- At the Olympic Games horses must be at least nine-years-old to compete in the Jumping.
Fencing- French has been the language of fencing since 1573 when Henri de Saint-Didier, a pioneer of the sport, published a manuscript that included most of the terms for the moves still used today.
Football- Hungary has won three Football gold medals, which is more than any other country.
Gymnastics (Artistic)- Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina has 18 Olympic medals, the most ever won by a single athlete in any sport.
Gymnastics (Rhythmic)- The word ‘Gymnastics’ comes from the Greek for ‘naked’ – early gymnasts used to perform without any clothes.
Gymnastics (Trampoline)- A routine must always start and finish on the feet.
Handball- Considered to be one of the oldest sports, based on a reference in Homer's Odyssey and a third century bronze statuette found in Dodoni.
Hockey- This sport gets its name from the French word ‘hocquet’, which means ‘shepherd’s crook’.
Judo- The rules require competitors to bow when entering and leaving the mat – called a ‘tatami’ – and at the start and end of a fight.
Modern Pentathlon- Women competed in Modern Pentathlon at the Olympic Games for the first time at Sydney 2000.
Rowing- The only sport where competitors cross the finish line backwards
Sailing- The sport’s name was changed from ‘Yachting’ to ‘Sailing’ at the Sydney 2000 Games.
Shooting- The oldest Olympian ever was Oscar Swahn, a Swedish shooter in the 1920 Antwerp, Belgium, Olympics. He was 72.
Swimming- Mark Spitz won seven gold medals swimming for the U.S. in the 1972 Olympics, the most ever won by a single competitor in one Olympic competition.
Synchronised Swimming- One of two sports on today’s Olympic programme to be contested only by women.
Table Tennis- Other names for Table Tennis include ‘Ping Pong’, ‘Whiff Waff’ and ‘Flim Flam’, reflecting the sound of the ball being struck and bouncing off the table.
Taekwondo- On average, it takes three years’ training for athletes to reach the ‘black belt’ status.
Tennis- The first tennis rackets were wooden, with strings made of sheep or bovine intestines.
Triathlon- Olympic distance triathlon comprises of a 1,500m swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run.
Volleyball- Cuba won gold in the Women’s Volleyball competition at three consecutive Olympic Games, from Barcelona 1992 until Sydney 2000 inclusive.
Water Polo- Only the goaltender may handle the ball with more than one hand.
Weightlifting- The bodyweights of competitors are used to break ties – the lifter who weighs less wins.
Wrestling- The longest Wrestling contest in Olympic history occurred at Stockholm in 1912, when a middleweight match between Russia’s Martin Klein and Finland’s Alfred Asikainen went on for an amazing 11 hours.
By James Urry and Charlotte Taylor
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