Opening week's action at the Games... and what to expect
Adlington, Daley, Ennis, Farah and the cyclists lead a gold rush for Team GB over the next seven days
Sunday 29 July 2012
All eyes on Adlington
Rebecca Adlington defends the 400m freestyle gold she won in Beijing. Timing: 8.13pm.
There's a domestic dust-up on the cards as Nicola Cooke goes head to head with Team GB rival Lizzie Armitstead in the women's cycling road race. Timing: 12pm.
Great Britain's footballers could do with a win over the UAE at Wembley after the 1-1 draw in their opening game. Timing: 7.45pm.
And the star-studded Team USA basketball squad take their bow against the French. Timing: 2.30pm.
Daley in at the deep end
After his disappointing pairing with Blake Aldridge four years ago, Tom Daley goes for gold in the 10m synchro diving with his new partner Pete Waterfield. Timing: 3pm.
In the pool, Liam Tancock could be the best hope of a men's medal in the 100m backstroke final, but he is up against Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte of the USA. Timing: 7.58pm.
Beat the girls from Brazil
Hope Powell's women footballers follow up the victory on their Olympic debut with a glamorous tie against Brazil, who won silver at the past two Games. Timing: 7.45pm.
Float like a butterfly
Ellen Gandy goes for gold in the 200m butterfly but she will be up against China's world No 1, Zige Liu. Timing: 8.09pm.
In the rowing men's eight final Team GB will be up against Canada, Germany and the United States. Timing: 10.30am.
The men's football team face a tricky final group game against Uruguay. Ryan Giggs should relish playing in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Timing: 7.45pm.
Back on track for glory
In a packed velodrome Sir Chris Hoy, who won three golds in Beijing but is now 36, leads the men in their defence of the team sprint title. Timing: Final, 6.10pm.
Victoria Pendleton will look to add to her gold medal four years ago in the sprint as leading lady in the team sprint. Timing: Final, 5.50pm.
Everyone for Ennis
The potential Golden Girl of London 2012, Jessica Ennis, begins her heptathlon campaign on the first day of track-and-field competition, having missed Beijing 2008 through injury. Timing: from 10.05am.
In the pool, Adlington looks to add to her gold haul in her best event, the 800m freestyle. Timing: Final,7.43pm.
Big hurrah for Farah
Mo Farah is one of Team GB's biggest gold medal hopes in the men's 10,000m. Timing: 9.15pm.
Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter look to retain the lightweight double sculls rowing title. Timing: Final, 9.40am.
Usain Bolt runs in the men's 100m heats. Timing: from 10am.
Will India continue to be the worst team in town?
You would think that a country of over a billion people would be able to find a few Olympic gold medallists tucked away somewhere, wouldn't you? India has been proving otherwise since 1900. Considering its size, population and economic power, 20 medals is a meagre haul in over a century of Olympic participation.
More than half of them have been won in hockey, with athletics and wrestling the only other two disciplines in which India has medalled more than once. In fact, India's most revered Olympian is a gallant loser — Milkha Singh, known as The Flying Sikh, who broke the Olympic record in the 400m final in 1960 but still missed out on a bronze medal in a photo finish.
Athens in 2004 produced a single silver medal in double trap shooting, but in the previous three Olympiads the team had slunk home without a single medal. There are various theories, including: Indian parents push their children towards study and away from sport; and it's a conspiracy that cricket is not an Olympic sport. A more likely culprit is the acute lack of public facilities. Some private money was made available when Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate, established a trust to fund training for 2012. We'll see how that works out in the coming weeks as 81 athletes, India's largest-ever squad, bid to better three medals in Beijing, which included a first individual gold, in pistol shooting.
Nick Sczcepanik's spotter's guide to the wacky world of the Olympics
1. Small bald fat men to award medals
Their competing days may be over – if, indeed, they ever dawned – but a group of ageing men in suits, such as Fifa president and IOC member Sepp Blatter, can still bask in a reflected Olympic glow. IOC members put the medals around the necks of podium athletes; if they can reach after a long lunch, that is. Of the 105 full members of the IOC, only 20 are women, including the Princess Royal.
2. Athletes queuing up to explain their nicknames
Thorpedo, Flo-Jo, the Dream Team, Eric The Eel — every Olympiad throws up its colourful monikers. Australia's men's coxless four, The Oarsome Foursome, may have the best team name, but the United States take the individual honours thanks to gymnast Gabby "The Flying Squirrel" Douglas, footballer Alex "Baby Horse" Morgan and towering beach volleyballer Kerri "Six Feet of Sunshine" Walsh.
3. Americans queuing up to explain their names
In a tradition that started in the immigration queues on Ellis Island, Americans defy conventions about spelling common first names, and often make up completely new ones. So look out for Alyssa, Deron, Keshia, T'erea, Lashinda, Shalane, Zsuzsanna and the rest. And be glad that volleyball player Destinee Hooker escaped her, er, destinee...
4. Hi-tech Taekwondo
It may not be possible to be sure that a goal has been scored in a simple game like football, but a new automated scoring system that records the strength of blows to the body should ensure accurate judging in the complex Korean martial art of taekwondo. So you may not know what's going on amid all the spinning, jumping and flying kicks, but at least you'll know who's winning. And, in case you were worried, kicks to the head, which score the most points, will still be scored by judges.
5. The oldest Olympian
At 71, Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan, who will take part in the dressage from Thursday, is the 2012 Games' oldest competitor. Fortunately Hoketsu, who appeared in his first Games in his home town of Tokyo in 1964, has to do nothing more strenuous than sit on his horse, Whisper, who is a sprightly 15. Four years from now he hopes to overtake Oscar Swahn of Sweden, who won a silver medal in shooting at 72 in 1920 – if his horse is still up to it.
6. Extra security pat-down for two Aussie swimmers
Nick D'Arcy, a contender for gold in the 200m butterfly, and Kenrick Monk, a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay team, were recently ordered to remove pictures of themselves holding semi-automatic weapons from their Facebook pages. They will be sent home immediately after the swimming programme, but at least they will compete. D'Arcy was cut from the 2008 squad after an assault on team-mate Simon Cowley, who received a fractured jaw, nose, eye socket and cheekbone.
7. Sporting changelings
Dwain Chambers once tried out, unsuccessfully, as an American footballer, but American weightlifter Holley Mangold has done better after giving up gridiron. A high school offensive line (wo)man who bruised her way past male nose tackles and linebackers to reach a state championship game, she only took up snatching and jerking at 18, winning the junior national championship at the first attempt in 2008. Now she is a strong outsider in the 75kg and over division.
"When I was five or six I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics," she said. "I thought it would be in gymnastics, but my body had a different plan."
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