Olympic Question Time: Your queries answered

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The Independent Online

Q. Why do you get pro tennis players but only amateur boxers? Sally Armstrong

A. That's a question the boxing and Olympic authorities have been asking – so they're changing it for Rio. It's always been thought that professional boxing (no headguard, longer bouts) is more dangerous and is best not in the Olympics. But it also means that the most talented (eg, Amir Khan, pictured below) turn professional after the Games and are lost from the Olympic talent pool. But boxing is addressing this by introducing a new class of professional boxers who compete in the new "World Series of Boxing". They won't be the absolute superstars, but they will be salaried. At the Rio Games in four years, more than 50 of the new-breed professionals will take part.

Q. Why are swimming winners always in the centre lanes? Kolo Cukali

A. They get there by qualifying quickest. The side lanes are slower as they get backwash as waves hit the side walls. But it's not as bad as it used to be. Deeper pools, new designs for lane ropes and overflow gutters help keep the water as still (and fast) as possible.

Q. Why was Team GB introduced in French in the Opening Ceremony? Bob Molton

A. Because French is the primary language of the International Olympic Committee, based in the (French-speaking) city of Lausanne.

Q. Why do the runners always run anti-clockwise? Alexander Moffatt

A. This was not always the case, but the track-direction was standardised (with a couple of exceptions) a century ago – and the convention has lasted. Why anti-clockwise? Lots of theories here. Most convincing is that most athletes are right-handed (and right-footed), meaning they can push harder with their stronger leg if they go anti-clockwise. Some also say the heart, being on the left side of the body, finds it easier to pump blood with the centrifugal force acting from left to right.

Send your questions to olympicquestions@independent.co.uk, or tweet using the hashtag #indyolympics, live from the Olympic Park – or your sofa. We'll try to get you an answer asap and the best questions will be printed. Please remember we may be too busy to answer everyone, but if you think you can solve someone else's query, all the better! Thanks for sending them in.