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2012 Olympic Previews

A preview of coming attractions at the Games of the XXX Olympiad

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Contributors: Karen Aney, Anthony Biondi, Jennifer Colbourne, Paul Esau, Jeremy Hannaford, Paige Hoblak, Nadine Moedt, Sasha Moedt, Joel Smart, Alexei Summers, Katie Tegtmeier, Jessica WindEmail

Print Edition: July 18, 2012

Basketball

Gold Medals: 3

Point of Interest: The U.S. Men’s basketball team has won 13 of a possible 17 gold medals since the sport’s first inclusion during the 1936 games in Berlin. The U.S. Women’s team has won six of a possible nine gold medals since their addition in 1976. Canada has only medaled once, in Berlin in 1936 … in a game played on a muddy outdoor lawn tennis court … in which Canada lost to the U.S. by a score of 19-8.

What to watch and why: Blake Griffin. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is an international competition, when in fact it’s about the trials, the tribulations, and the petty squabbles of the U.S. squad. A U.S. squad which happens to include one of the best dunkers in the known universe, Blake Griffin. Blake Griffin! I hope they allow Kia Optimas into London’s new Basketball Arena. He and his Gold medal Americans will be playing Argentina, the defending Bronze medalists, on August 8 at 22:15 BMT (12:15 p.m. PST).  – P.E.

Boxing

Gold Medals: 13

Point of interest: It has been alleged that there has been a $9 million payout to the International Boxing Association to fix the gold medal results in the favour of Azerbaijan, and an investigation is being launched. The payout has been confirmed—it actually happened—but the investigation has yet to determine if the money was given in exchange for metals. The game might just be fixed from the start. Who knows?

What to watch and why: All of the boxing will probably be of an excellent quality if it’s anything compared to the other boxing we’ve seen this year, but in particular keep an eye out for the Men’s Bantam matches which will take place on July 28, at 13:30 BMT (5:30 a.m. PST)first fights are often high energy, and full of ambition and vigour. – A.S.

Canoe/Kayak

Gold Medals: 16

Point of Interest: 13,000 litres of water power down the canoe slalom course every second, enough to fill a 25m swimming pool every 30 seconds.

What to watch and why: C-2 (Canoe Double) Men, Monday July 30 at 13:30 BMT (5:30 a.m. PST). Watch Slovak twins Peter and Pavol Hochschorner, three-time Olympic champions in the C2 canoeing class, use that twin intuition to battle their toughest rivals, the French, Czech and German teams. – N.M.

Cycling

Gold Medals: 18

Point of interest: The road races have gained much attention and will include an incredible route with the Zig Zag Road incline and the Donkey Green area of Box Hill in Surrey. The area will offer spectators a fantastic view of the road races, with the men’s race looping Box Hill nine times and the women’s twice. The rest of the route, which travels through six London boroughs, four Royal Parks and Surrey countryside, offers spectators approximately 120 km of road to watch the race for free. Spectators can also view the race for free from other roads on the Box Hill Loop, excluding the Zig-Zag Road incline and Donkey Green area.

What to watch and why: Host country Great Britain will have a strong team lined up and will be hoping to repeat last year’s victory at the World Championships where Mark Cavendish, the world’s top road racer, overtook Australian Matt Gross in an impressive sprint. He’ll be competing in the Men’s road race on July 28 at 10:00 BMT (2:00 a.m. PST). – P.H.

Diving

Gold Medals: 8

Point of Interest: Canada’s last (and only) gold medal in a diving event came in 1984, when Sylvie Bernier won the Women’s 3m individual springboard event. China and the United States have won the lion’s share of diving gold medals over the years; The USA has 48, China has 27 and Sweden, in a distant third place, has six. This year, nine Canadians are competing for medals in the diving events.

What to Watch and Why: Alexandre Despatie has won two silver Olympic medals for Canada in the past, and hopes to add a Gold medal to his list of accomplishments. He is performing in both the men’s 3m individual springboard and men’s 3m synchronized springboard events (whose finals go on August 1, 15:00 BMT (7:00 a.m. PST) and August 7, 19:00 BMT (11:00 a.m. PST)), despite recovering from a recent injury. It is his fourth Olympic appearance. Victoria-born Riley McCormick is diving in the men’s 10m individual platform event; he placed 16th at the 2008 Olympics. The final for that event is on August 11, 20:30 BMT (12:00 p.m. PST). Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion are both excellent divers on their own, and are both competing in the individual 10m (final on August 9, 19:00 BMT (11:00 a.m. PST)) as well, but together they are a much more daunting threat due to their similar physique and diving styles. While they may not medal individually, it will be a let down if they can’t at least land a bronze in the synchronized dive (final on July 31, 15:00 BMT (7:00 a.m. PST)). Èmilie Heymans, like Alexandre Despatie, is making her fourth visit to the Olympics. She has won two silvers and a bronze. This year, she is competing in the 3m Springboard events, both Individual (final on August 5, 19:00 BMT (11:00 a.m. PST)) and Synchronized (final on July 29, 15:00 BMT (7:00 a.m. PST)). Her partner, also in both events, is Jennifer Abel, who was just 16 when she attended the 2008 Olympics. – J.S.

Equestrian

Gold Medals: 6

Points of interest: We’ve got Royals and Presidential candidates with invested interest in equestrianism. Zara Phillips, great granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth 11, is competing for Britain’s eventing team. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s wife is a part owner of a horse named Rafalca on the US dressage team. Queen Elizabeth 11 and Mitt Romney might both make an appearance.

What to watch and why: August 4, 18:30 BMT (10:30 a.m. PST), team jumping. 64-year-old Ian Millar will be contending for Canada. In Bejiing 2008, in his ninth appearance in the games, Millar received his first medal: silver for team jumping at the age of 61. Will number 10 bring him luck? – S.M.

Football

Gold Medals: 2

Point of Interest: Football was introduced into the Modern Olympic Games in 1900 as the first ever team sport; European teams dominated the event until 1996. Spain was the last national team (men’s) to earn the gold medal for Europe, and is in a good position to retain the honour. Canada’s men have qualified three times in the 100+ years they’ve been competing. The women have qualified twice in the four competitions they have been allowed to enter.

What to watch and why: Canada Women’s National team. First round matches July 25th, 17:00 BMT (9:00am PST) vs. Japan; July 28, 14:45 BMT (6:45am PST) vs. South Africa and July 31, 14:30 BMT (6:30am PST) vs. Sweden. Canada’s Striker/team captain Christine Sinclair is from Burnaby, and midfielder Sophie Schmidt is from Abbotsford. Sinclair is considered to be the best player ever to come out of Canada. – J.W.

Gymnastics

Gold Medals: 18

Point of interest: Canada has never won a medal in artistic gymnastics; on the other hand, Canadian trampoline gymnast Jason Burnett not only won silver in the 2008 Olympics, but also holds the record for most difficult routine.

What to watch and why: Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team, July 31 at 16:30 BMT (8:30 a.m. PST) and Individual All-Around August 2 at 16:30 BMT (8:30 a.m. PST) to support local Coquitlam athlete Brittany Rogers. Women’s Group Rhythmic Gymnastics, August 12 at 13:30 BMT (5:30 a.m. PST) will have Canada’s first ever Olympic rhythmic group team competing. Men’s Trampoline Gymnastics, August 3 at 14:00 BMT (6 a.m. PST) where record-breaking Canadian silver-medalist Jason Burnett will be a serious contender for gold.  – J.C.

Judo

Gold Medals: 14

Point of interest: Judo was first introduced into the Olympics in 1964. Much to the disappointment of the Japanese, a man from the Netherlands, Anton Geesink, won gold in the opening year. However, Judo did not return as an Olympic sport in the 1968 Olympics, but returned in the following 1972 games.

What to watch and why: While any match is going to be fun to watch, I recommend tuning in to watch the Men’s under 73 kilo category. This match will feature the first ever Palestinian Olympic Athlete, Maher Abu Rmeileh. The elimination rounds begin at 9:30 BMT (1:00 a.m. PST) and continue throughout the day (or night). – A.B.

Swimming

Gold Medals: 35

Point of Interest: This is supposedly the last time Michael Phelps will participate in the Olympics. Although it is still under speculation, he told Anderson Cooper that he would be finished “once” he retired.

What to watch and why: The reappearance of USA’s Michael Phelps is a definite attraction. With eight medal wins in the previous Olympics, he requires only three more to become the most distinguished Olympian in history. During Beijing’s 200m butterly event, he took gold despite his goggles filling up with water halfway through the race, rendering him sightless. This could be the one time he’d most like to improve upon: it will be held on July 28 at 19:47 BMT (9:47 a.m. PST). It’s also worth tuning in to watch UBC student Savannah King. Since debuting at the 2008 Olympics, she’s broken a number of Canadian records for long distance freestyle. Her best shot is at the 800m freestyle. The final will be held on August 3 at 19:45 BMT (9:47 a.m. PST). – J.H.

Track and Field

Gold Medals: 47

Point of Interest: Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, called “The Fastest Man in the World”, is surely going to be working hard to maintain his title. Some fierce competition this year for the 100 metre will be Bolts’ rival American Tyson Gay who holds the second fasted 100 metre record of all time, just under Bolt. That means an intense under-10-second race; who doesn’t have time for that? Also, Mark Zuckerberg’s freshman roommate, American-born Samyr Laine, will be competing for Haiti.

What to watch and why: Now if watching women run is more your thing (no comment), then here is the race for you to tune into. Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot, the world’s 5000 metre record holder, against, well you probably won’t see them anyways because Cheruiyot will have finished that race by the time the announcers introduce the athletes. She’ll be competing in the 10,000 m on August 3 at 21:25 BMT (11:25 a.m. PST). One last athlete to make sure you see is Mo Farah, Britain’s 5,000 metre record holder. He is sure to blow the competition out of the water with his 12-minute 53-second record. He’ll then have enough time to distribute some life jackets to them before the race is over, because this isn’t a swim meet people. Watch him in the Men’s 10,000m race on August 4 at 21:15 BMT (11:15 a.m. PST). – K.T.

 

Tennis

Gold Medals: 5

Point of Interest: This will be the first grass court tournament held since tennis was re-introduced to the Olympics in 1988. All events will be held at Wimbledon.

What to watch and why: Men’s Doubles, July 27 at 12:00 BMT (4:00 a.m. PST), because 22-year-old Vasek Pospisil will be competing with 39-year-old Daniel Nestor. Nestor is the only Canadian to have ever won a medal in tennis – he and partner Sebastien Lareau won gold in Beijing. – K.A.

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