Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't Stop Me Now, by Team GB

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: The Paralympics

The Paralymplic Games is a parallel competition for athletes with disabilities. The Wheelchair Games was started as a rehabilitation program for British war veterans with spinal injuries by neurologist, Sir Ludwig Guttman in 1948. The neurologist had started using sports as part of spinal injury rehabilitation and as other spinal injury groups adopted the plan the competition grew.

The first Stoke Mandeville Games or Wheelchair Games was run to coincide with the 1948 London Olympics. By 1952, competitors from the Netherlands gave the games an international dimension.

The first Paralympics took place in 1960 in Rome and corresponded to the 9th Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games. Sir Ludwig Guttmann brought 400 wheelchair athletes to compete. The first Winter Paralympics were held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden in 1976. The Summer Paralympics have been held in conjunction with the Olympic Games in the same host city since 1988. This practice was adopted in 1992 for the Winter Paralympics, and became an official policy of the International Olympic Committee and the IPC in 2001. The Paralympic Games take place three weeks after the closing of the Olympics, in the same host city and using the same facilities.

Past locations of Summer Paralympics

1948 - Stoke Mandeville, England
1960 - Rome, Italy
1964 - Tokyo, Japan
1968 - Tel Aviv, Israel
1972 - Heidelberg, Germany
1976 - Toronto, Canada
1980 - Arnhem, Netherlands
1984 - Stoke Mandeville & New York
1988 - Seoul, Korea
1992 - Barcelona, Spain
1996 - Atlanta US
2000 - Sydney, Australia
2004 - Athens, Greece

2008 – Beijing, China
At Beijing there will be twenty sports are on the program with rowing making its first appearance in the Paralympics. The sports are: Archery, Athletics (track and field), Boccia, Cycling, Equestrian, Football 5-a-side, Football 7-a-side, Goalball, Judo, Powerlifting, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Swimming, Table tennis, Volleyball (sitting), Wheelchair basketball, Wheelchair fencing, Wheelchair rugby, Wheelchair tennis.

2012 - London UK

2012 - London, UK
The fourteenth Summer Paralympic Games took place in London. London 2012 has the largest field of any Paralympic Games ever. An estimated total of 4,200 athletes will represent 164 countries. Fourteen countries will be making their Paralympic Games début: Antigua and Barbuda, Brunei, Cameroon, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mozambique, North Korea, San Marino, the Solomon Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. In addition, Trinidad and Tobago will be returning to the Games for the first time since 1988.

The Paralympic torch was designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who had designed the Summer Olympic torch. It was intended to have a "modern" and "innovative" look, and was constructed with an aluminium alloy skin that is perforated to help with heat dissipation and grip. The torch also has a reflective finish, allowing it to match its surroundings and provide better visibility at night.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 2012 London

The 2012 Summer Olympics took place in London, United Kingdom. Around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) took part.

The Games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The opening ceremony was called "Isles of Wonder" and directed by Danny Boyle. The official BARB ratings give the opening ceremony a rating of 24.24 million viewers, the highest audience for any British television broadcast since 1996.

During the Opening Ceremony, the theme tune to Chariots of Fire was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Simon Rattle. The performance was accompanied by a comedic skit by Rowan Atkinson which included the opening beach-running footage from the film.

The host broadcaster was Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), an agency of the IOC. It used its own cameras, and crews subcontracted from other Olympic broadcasters, to cover the events. The base video and audio were sold to other broadcasters, who added their own commentary and presentation.

The Olympic medals were designed by David Watkins. Virtually all the gold, silver and copper was mined in Salt Lake County, Utah in the U.S. Each medal weighs 375–400 g (13.2–14.1 oz), has a diameter of 85 mm (3.34 in) and is 7 mm (0.27 in) thick, with the sport and discipline engraved on the rim.The obverse features Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, stepping from the Panathinaiko Stadium with Parthenon in the background; the reverse features the Games logo, the River Thames and a series of lines representing "the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together".

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time, meaning every country has sent a female competitor to at least one Olympic Games. Women's boxing was included as a sport and every sport had female competitors.

There are four special Olympic flags that differ from all others in that they have a 6-coloured fringe. Such a flags will be displayed in the City of London. The flag was presented to Boris Johnson the mayor during the Beijing closing ceremony.

The official mascots were animations called Wenlock and Mandeville depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton. They are named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held a forerunner of the current Olympic Games, and Stoke Mandeville, a village in Buckinghamshire where a forerunner to the Paralympic Games were first held. The designs were generally greeted with some disdain.

To further commemorate the Games the Mint issued a new set of 50 pence coins. The coins each feature one of 29 sports on the reverse and have been designed by people from England and Wales.The designers ranged from a Manchester policeman and a delivery driver from Reading to a bank clerk from Preston and a Bristol schoolgirl. The 50 pence pieces feature well-known sports such as sailing, swimming and basketball, but also lesser-known disciplines including handball and the Paralympic sport boccia.

Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, winning his 22nd medal.

There have been several controversies during the lead-up to the Games, including sponsorship, the athletes' use of social media, and several political issues. Although thousands of people failed to secure seats for the events they wanted following a complicated lottery process, a large number of empty seats were observed during the first days, including at some of the most popular events. This was speculated to be due to corporate sponsors who had been provided with tickets but weren’t using them fully.

It was announced prior to the Summer Games that half of all the competitors were tested for drugs, with 150 scientists set to take 6,000 samples between the start of the Games and the end of the Paralympic Games. In addition, every competitor who won a medal was also tested. The Olympic anti-doping laboratory tested up to 400 samples every day for more than 240 prohibited substances.

The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics was held on 12 August 2012. In addition to protocol, the ceremony featured a flashback fiesta to British music with The Who finishing out the performance. The ceremony also included a handover of the Olympic flag by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, to Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 2008 Beijing

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad took place in Beijing, China. A total of 37 venues were used to host the events, including 12 constructed specifically for use at the Games. 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events. The 2008 Games cost an estimated $44 billion.

The centre piece was the Beijing National Stadium ("The Bird's Nest") because of its nest-like skeletal structure. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the athletics competition. The opening ceremony lasted over four hours. An estimated 4.1 billion people around the world saw the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony lasted over four hours. The official song of the 2008 Olympics was called “You and Me", and was performed by Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan.

The design of the 2008 Olympic Torch was based on traditional scrolls and used a traditional Chinese design known as the "Propitious Clouds" (祥云). The torch was designed to remain lit in 65 km/h (40 mph) winds, in temperatures as low as minus 40 °C, and in rain of up to 50 mm (2 in) per hour. Former Chinese gymnast Li Ning lit the cauldron, after being suspended into the air by wires and completing a lap of the National Stadium at roof height. Many Chinese consumers incorrectly identified Li Ning’s company as an official Olympics Games sponsor despite the millions spent by Adidas to secure the sponsorship.

The International Olympic Committee sold separate broadcasting rights for television and new media such as internet and mobile technologies. According to Nielsen Media Research, 4.7 billion viewers worldwide tuned in to some of the television coverage, one-fifth larger than the 3.9 billion who watched the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The Olympic Committee also set up a separate YouTube channel.

The official logo of these Olympic Games, titled "Dancing Beijing", featured a stylized calligraphic character jīng (京, meaning capital), referring to the host city. The open arms of the calligraphic word symbolised the invitation from China to the world to share in its culture. The official motto for the 2008 Olympics was "One World, One Dream" (同一个世界 同一个梦想).

The mascots for Beijing 2008 or Fuwa are five figures to represent the five Olympic Rings. Each figure is in the colour of the rings blue, yellow, black, green, and red respectivley and are designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends. The figures represent China's most popular animals i.e the Fish (Beibei – prosperity), the Panda (Jingjing - happyness), the Tibetan Antelope (Yingying – health and strengh), the Swallow (Nini – good luck) and the Olympic Flame (Huanhauan - passion). When the names of the five are put together i.e. Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni this can be translated as "Welcome to Beijing."

American swimmer Michael Phelps broke the records for most gold medals in one Olympics and for most career gold medals for an Olympian by winning eight swimming events.

Jamaican sprinter , Usain Bolt broke both the 100m and 200m world records and claimed a third gold and record with the Jamaican 4 x 100m relay team.

Dawn Harper (US) raced to the finish line in a pair of borrowed spikes in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and wore the same shoes to the winner's podium. Prior to the race Harper discovered the spikes on the single pair of shoes she owned were wearing down. Her friend Michelle Perry, the retired hurdler, loaned her shoes to Harper to race. At the time Dawn had no sponsor to provide her with a new set of spikes.

In cycling, the road race followed the Great Wall and passed in front of the “Forbidden City.”

The 2008 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony concluded the Beijing Games and included the handover of the Games from Beijing to London.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Olympics :History of the Modern Games : 2004 Athens

The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad was held in Athens, Greece and all IOC countries attended. There were10,625 athletes from 201 countries in competition. Kiribati and Timor Leste participated for the first time in the Olympic Games. Another first was the flame travelled around the world in a relay to former Olympic cities and other large cities, before returning to Greece. Some of the most modern sporting venues in the world at the time were built to host the 2004 Olympic Games. For the first time video coverage was served over the Internet. The BBC made their complete live coverage available to UK high-speed Internet customers for free; customers in the U.S. were only able to receive delayed excerpts. The International Olympic Committee forbade Olympic athletes, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from setting up specialized weblogs and/or other websites for covering their personal perspective of the games. They were not allowed to post audio, video, or photos that they had taken. An exception was made if an athlete already has a personal website that was not set up specifically for the Games.

The Opening Ceremony culminated in the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by 1996 Gold Medalist Windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis at the Ancient Olympia.

As part of the opening ceremony a topless Minoan priestess featured momentarily. In the US her breasts were pixilated digitally to avoid controversy. Also, lower frontal nudity of men dressed as ancient Greek statues was shown in such a way that the area below the waist was cut off by the bottom of the screen.

A new medal obverse was introduced at these Games, rectified the long lasting mistake of using a depiction of the Roman Coliseum rather than a Greek venue. The new design featured the Panathinaiko Stadium.

Athiná and Phévos (pronounced in Greek, Athina and Fivos) were the 2004 Olympic mascots inspired by ancient Greek terra-cotta figurines. The sister and brother were named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and Phoebus, the god of light and music, respectively. The mascots were based on clay models kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The ancient daidala, which were dolls that had religious connotations as well as being toys.

Concerns about terrorism elevated following the 11 September 2001 attacks meant Greece increased the budget for security. It was estimated the cost of the games was over € 10 billion which in the end proved a financial disaster. 24 athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

American swimmer Michael Phelps emerged as the face of the games and won eight medals. Swimmer Jenny Thompson became the most decorated U.S. Olympian, winning her 12th medal as a member of the 400-meter medley relay.

Americans dominated track and field events sweeping the top three spots in both the men's 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash, with Shawn Crawford and Jeremy Wariner each earning gold, respectively. In the 100-meter dash, Justin Gatlin took home the gold medal with a time of 9.85. He was followed closely by three other competitors also under 10 seconds, making the event the most competitive track event in Olympic history. Gatlin later failed a drug test for having too high a level of testosterone.

In the women's 400-meter hurdles, upset winner Fani Halkia delighted the home crowd.

Maurice Greene (US) finished third in his attempt to defend his 100 m title, and a silver as the anchor leg runner on the United States 4x100 m relay team.

Fiercely patriotic Maurice ran in Star spangled shoes.

U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm won gold in the all-around competition despite an early fall.

The Argentinian men's basketball team defeated Italy to win the gold medal, becoming the first non-U.S. team to win the title since professionals were allowed to play in 1992.

The marathon was held on the same route as the 1896 games, beginning in the site of the Battle of Marathon to the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens. While leading in the men's marathon with less than 10 kilometres to go, Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima is attacked by Irish priest Cornelius Horan and dragged into the crowd. De Lima recovered to take bronze, and was later awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.[24]

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 2000 Sydney

Sydney, played host to the 2000 Summer Olympic Games which had 10,651 athletes competing in 300 events. A record 199 IOC nations took part with only Afghanistan suspended due to the Taliban regime's prohibition against practicing any kind of sports. The event was officially opened by Governor General Sir William Deane.

The Opening Ceremony had a cast of 12,687 people who took part in the ceremony. It was described by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch as the most beautiful ceremony the world has ever seen. In 2002, the Auditor-General of New South Wales reported that the Sydney Games cost A$6.6 billion.

Cathy Freeman ignited the cauldron around her feet in a circle of fire. The planned spectacular climax to the ceremony was delayed by the technical glitch of a computer switch that malfunctioned, causing the sequence to shut down by giving a false reading. This meant that the Olympic flame was suspended in mid-air for about four minutes, rather than immediately rising up a water-covered ramp to the top of the stadium.

She won the 400 metre final ahead of Lorraine Graham of Jamaica and Katharine Merry of Great Britain. Freeman's win made her the first competitor in Olympic Games history to light the Olympic Flame and then go on to win a Gold Medal.

The Olympic Village was adjoining the Sydney Olympic Park and accommodated 10 200 competitors and 5 100 delegation officials at the time of the Olympic Games.

Olly, Syd and Millie were the official mascots of the Sydney Olympics. Olly (Olympics) was a kookaburra, representing the Olympic spirit of generosity. Syd (Sydney) a platypus, represented the environment and energy of the people of Australia. Millie (millennium) was an echidna representing the historic date.

Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat became the unofficial mascot of the games and represented a protest over the commercialization of Olympic mascots.

The Triathlon made its Olympic debut. Brigitte McMahon (Switzerland) swam, cycled and ran to the first gold medal in the sport, beating the favoured home athletes such as Michelie Jones who won silver. McMahon only passed Jones in sight of the finish line.

Maurice Green sported the famous gold shoes when he retained the 400m gold. His shoes were made by Nike and 3M with reflective material made from 24 karat gold. Nike made nine pairs of gold shoes for the supreme athlete.

Marathon runners wore microchips in their shoes for the first time.

Ian Thorpe set a new world record in the 400 m freestyle final before competing in exciting 4 x 100 m freestyle final. Swimming the last leg, Thorpe passed the leading Americans and arrived in a new world record time, two tenths of a second ahead of the Americans.

Controversy erupted at the Women's Gymnastics All-Around final, when gymnast after gymnast fell on the vault. Some gymnasts were physically injured, and all were shaken, but nothing was done to try to discover the reason most gymnasts were having severe problems. Finally, in the middle of the second round, it was determined that the vault horse had been set 5 cm too low – a small amount, possibly, but to these world-class athletes, enough of a difference to have thrown off their impeccable timing to the extent that true performance was impossible. This situation led directly to the elimination of Svetlana Khorkina from consideration as the top all-around gymnast.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games : 1996 Atlanta

The Games of the XXVI Olympiad was officially the Centennial Olympics, and held in Atlanta, Georgia, United States in 1996. Atlanta was the third American city to host the Olympic Games. One hundred and ninety seven (197) IOC member nations took part in the Games, comprising 10,318 athletes. Beach volleyball became an Olympic event and remains the only event to be played barefoot.

The opening ceremony featured 500 cheerleaders and 30 pickup trucks. The Olympic song "The Power of the Dream" was composed by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and David Foster, with words by Linda Thompson and performed in the opening ceremony by Céline Dion accompanied by David Foster on the piano, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Centennial Choir (Morehouse College Glee Club, Spelman College Glee Club and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus).

For the torch ceremony, more than 10,000 Olympic torches were manufactured by the American Meter Company and electroplated by Erie Plating Company. Each torch weighed about 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) and was made primarily of aluminum, with a Georgia pecan wood handle and gold ornamentation. The 1996 Games were given a dramatic and emotional start when the cauldron was lit by sporting legend Muhammad Ali.

Atlanta's heavy reliance on corporate sponsorship caused European Olympic officials to consider the Games to be overly commercialized. Coca-Cola, whose corporate headquarters is in Atlanta, received criticism for being the exclusive drink offered in Olympic venues. The city licensed street vendors who sold certain products over others, and therefore provided a presence for companies who were not official Olympic sponsors. In defense, the organizing committee stated the heavy corporate sponsorship was part of America's culture of capitalism. Atlanta relied on. Commercial sponsorship and ticket sales resulted in an overall profit of $10 million.

The battle between manufacturers of shoes was at its height. Official USOC sponsor Reebok were the official footwear supplier but other companies launched massive promotions. Much ambush advertising was in evidence with Nike attempting to promote the rings logo on their track and sportswear kits. Reebok made use of Olympic-themed billboards throughout Atlanta while, Nike's marketing success lay in the presence of its "Niketown" which was located on the cusp of Centennial Olympic Park. Nike's message of being involved with the Olympics successfully reached the television audience.

At a press conference before the 100m final sprinter, Linford Christie (UK) wore Puma contact lenses.

The mascot for the games was Izzy, an animated character resembling an amorphous amoeba and designed by a compurer program. Arguably Izzy (derived from what is it?) was the least popular mascot and the Olympic Committee banned it from appearing at the opening and closing ceremonies. Izzy remained conspicuously absent before, after, and during the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Track and field photo finishes were computerized in colour for the first time. Donovan Bailey (Canada) won the men's 100 m, setting a new world record of 9.84 seconds at that time. He also anchored his team's gold in the 4x100 m relay.

Michael"The Man With the Golden Shoes" Johnson (US) entered the Olympic finals donning a custom-designed pair of golden-colored Nike racing spikes made with Zytel. Sources differ on the exact weight of the shoes and the manufacturer claims they weighed 3 ounces (85 g) each. Other sources state each shoe weighed about 94 grams (3.3 oz). The shoes had five grams of gold weaved into their fabric. The left shoe was a US size 10.5 while the right shoe was a US size 11, to account for Johnson's shorter left foot. He won gold in both the 200 m and 400 m, setting a new world record of 19.32 seconds in the 200 m.

Johnson wore mustard coloured Nikes when he won the 400m in an Olympic-record 43.49 seconds. After the race, he tossed his gold shoes into the crowd. as a celebration.

Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) won gold in the 10,000m at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics (2000). He grew up running barefoot and refused to wear customised shoes until he ended the 10,000m with bloody toes and blisters from the track in Atlanta which was designed for sprinting and too hard for the distance runners.

Kerri Strug of the United States women's gymnastics injured her left ankle on a vault landing during competition. She thought she needed to gain a better score to secure gold and took part in a second vault in severe agony. She scored a 9.712.

The Games were marred by the Centennial Olympic Park bombing . A security Guard discovered a pipe bomb and immediately notified law enforcement and helped evacuate as many people as possible from the area before it exploded. Although the Guard’s quick actions was credited for saving many lives two people died and a further 111 were injured.