2012 London Olympics: What and who to watch out for at the summer Olympic Games!

RunnerOscar Pistorius

Runner Oscar Pistorius (Photo by Erik van Leeuwen)

In just two short weeks, the 2012 London Olympics will be underway in London, England. With the opening ceremonies beginning on Friday, July 27 and concluding on Sunday, August 12, the days in between will surely be packed with excitement including 36 different events for the able-bodied Olympics and 28 for the Paralympics. There will be many must-see moments for these summer Games, and here’s a rundown of what to watch this year!

The events

With so many events taking place during the two-and-a-half week span, it’ll be hard to keep up with what’s going on! The best place to check often is the official London 2012 Olympics page. Here, you’ll find a listing of all events taking place daily, with a special recognition for medal events, as well as a listing of all athletes and medals awarded by country.

This year’s able-bodied events include:

  • Table tennis
  • Canoe slalom: Timed runs down a water course with up to 25 open gates to maneuver around
  • Handball: Two teams of seven players dribbling a ball down the court who attempt to throw it past a goalie who stands in a net similar to soccer
  • Cycling — BMX: Riders race on an outdoor track on BMX bikes that contain only one gear and one brake
  • Equestrian
  • Modern pentathlon: Combination of fencing, swimming, horseback riding, shooting and running all to be completed within one day of competition

This year’s Paralympics include:

  • Boccia: Players propelling balls trying to get closer to the target ball than opponents.
  • Wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis
  • Sitting volleyball: Similar to the able-bodied counterpart but players must have a portion of their body between the buttocks and the shoulders remain on the floor when attempting a shot
  • Goalball: Players who have varying visual impairments wearing eye masks (so everyone is on the same level) and rolling a large ball, equipped with two bells for hearing, down the court to score a goal.

Who you won’t want to miss

Twenty-five-year old South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius — who had both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was just 11 months old — will be the first Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied track and field. Pistorius will be running in the individual 400-meter race and the 400-meter relay race with three teammates for South Africa.

Michael Phelps, member of the U.S. Men’s swim team, will go for seven medals this summer as he’ll attempt to do what no swimmer has done: win the same events at three consecutive summer Olympics. According to the July 2, 2012, post “Michael Phelps goes for … seven” by Alan Abrahamson for Team USA, Phelps won’t be competing in the 200 meter freestyle, which the world has seen him break records on. Instead, he will be working to perfect the 100 and 200 butterflys, the 200 and 400 individual medley (a combination of races in one event) and all three relays, including the 400 freestyle relay. Not too shabby for a 27-year-old.

What you might see at the next summer Olympic Games

Pole dancing. Yes, pole dancing. While it’s too late to join in on this year’s Olympics, the International Pole Dance Fitness Association (after being denied by the International Olympic Committee) will be trying again to be recognized as a sport by the IOC for the 2016 summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Softball, baseball and karate have also gotten the snub from the IOC for this year’s Olympics. Rugby could return to the Games in 2016 after being dropped in 2009 by the IOC. Fans will see a different, more fast-paced version of the same being played in 2016, which will likely include seven players a side.

For more up-to-date Olympic info you can always follow along with @London2012 on Twitter or subscribe to the U.S. Olympic Team‘s Facebook page.

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