Archery dates back around 10,000 years, whenbows and arrows were first used for hunting andwarfare, before it developed as a competitive activityin medieval England.
Athletics is the perfect expression of the Olympicmotto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (‘Faster, Higher,Stronger’) – the competition requires athletes to runfaster, throw further, jump higher and leap longerthan their rivals. With 2,000 athletes competing in 47events, Athletics is the largest single sport at theGames.
Badminton players at the London 2012 OlympicGames will need lightning-fast reactions if they’re tokeep up with shuttlecocks travelling at speeds inexcess of 400km/h.
From humble beginnings in North America,Basketball has grown into one of the mostpopular team sports in the world. Its a truly globalgame: the National Basketball Association (NBA) inthe USA, the worlds leading professional league,features players from more than 30 countries.
Beach Volleyball came of age on the sun-soaked beaches of Santa Monica, California, duringthe 1920s. Over the last three decades, the sport hasmoved far beyond its roots and is now played all overthe world.
The ever-popular men’s Boxing events are joinedon the Olympic program by women’s events for thefirst time.Boxing featured at the original Olympic Games in the7th century BC, when opponents fought with strips ofleather wrapped around their fists.
The Canoe Slalom competition will call forspeed, control and precision on the daunting whitewater rapids at the new Lee Valley White WaterCentre. Modeled on slalom skiing, the first CanoeSlalom competition was held in Switzerland in 1932.The sport was staged on flat water during its earlydays, but was later switched to white-water rapids.
Requiring sustained bursts of speed and power,Canoe Sprint at the London 2012 Games willoffer thrilling, down-to-the-wire finishes.The histories of the canoe and the kayak go backhundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the middle ofthe 19th century that the first official canoe and kayakraces were held.
The fast and furious sport of BMX makes only itssecond Olympic appearance at the London 2012Games.BMX (Bicycle Motocross) began to take off in the late1960s in California, around the time that motocrossbecame popular in the US.
Rocky paths, tricky climbs and technical descentsprovide plenty of challenges for riders in theMountain Bike competition.Much like BMX, Mountain Biking is a youngsport that developed in northern California during the1970s.
At London 2012, a quartet of challenging, excitingRoad Cycling events will energize the streets ofLondon and Surrey.According to popular legend, the first ever bicyclerace was held in Paris in 1868.
At the London 2012 Olympic Games, there are 10 goldmedals in nine sessions up for grabs over six action-packed days in the Track Cycling competition.Cycling has a long and fascinating history in the UK.
Diving requires acrobatic excellence and supremecoordination skills, as athletes dive from heights of upto 10m into the waters below. Competitive Divingdeveloped from gymnastics in the 18th century withgymnasts from Sweden and Germany.
The Equestrian competition at London 2012 ismade up of three disciplines: Dressage, Eventing andJumping. Each discipline requires different skills fromthe riders and horses competing.
Although sword fighting dates back thousands ofyears, Fencing as we now understand it reallycame of age as a sport in the 19th century. A tense,compelling battle of wits and technique, the sport isone of the few to have featured at every modernOlympic Games.
The Soccer competition kicks off the London2012 Olympic Games. Spread across six majorgrounds around the UK, it offers all the drama thatfans of the game have come to expect from majorinternational tournaments.
The grace, strength and skill of Olympic gymnastshave been astonishing audiences since the Games inAncient Greece, where Gymnastics was regarded asthe perfect symmetry between mind and body. Thebest known of the three Gymnastics disciplines,Artistic Gymnastics is always among themost popular competitions at the Games.
Grace and beauty will be on show throughout thefour days of Rhythmic Gymnasticscompetition at Wembley Arena. Rhythmic Gymnasticsfirst appeared during the 19th century and slowlygrew in popularity until the first experimentalcompetitions were staged during the 1930s.
Speed, skill and stamina are key attributes forcompetitors in Handball, a quick and exhileratingteam sport. Developed in Denmark, Sweden andGermany in the late 19th century, it was originallyplayed outdoors as field handball. It first appeared atthe Olympics at the Berlin 1936 Games.
Hockey demands speed, stamina and a mastery ofintricate hand-eye coordination. Played by teams of11 on an outdoor pitch, the sport is a long-timeOlympic favorite, offering non-stop action over 14days of competition.
Judo contests are a five-minute whirlwind ofcombat, with athletes attempting a combination ofthrows and holds in a bid to defeat their opponents.Developed from jujitsu and established as a sport inthe late 19th century by Dr Jigoro Kano, athletes usean intricate mix of attack and defense. The sport’sone-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive.
At the London 2012 GamesModern Pentathloncelebrates 100 years as part of theOlympic Games. Modern Pentathlonwas championed by Baron Pierre deCoubertin, the founder of themodern Olympic Games, and has itsorigins in a 19th-century legend. Thestory goes that a young Frenchcavalry officer was sent on horsebackto deliver a message. To complete hismission, he had to ride, fence, shoot,swim and run.
The Rowing competition at the London 2012Games will feature extraordinary displays of powerand passion on the world-class waters at Eton Dorney. Although its history dates back centuries, rowing onlycame of age as a competitive sport in the last 200years.
The waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harborplay host to 10 exhilarating Sailing events.Mastery over ever-changing conditions on open waterrequires skill and nerve. Both will be essential forcompetitors in the Sailing events at London 2012 over14 days of competition that should offer plenty ofexcitement and drama.
During the London 2012 Games, nearly 400competitors are shooting for gold across 15dramatic events. Having been practised competitivelyfor centuries, the tense and demanding sport ofShooting is now popular all over the world.
Hugely popular around the world as a leisure activityand a competitive sport, Swimming has featuredat every modern Olympic Games. Speed, strengthand stamina will be key for athletes in thecompetition which features no fewer than 34 medalevents.
Synchronized Swimming is all about graceunder pressure, as athletes use pinpoint precision andimmense stamina to deliver beautiful routines in thepool. Having made its Olympic debut at the LosAngeles 1984 Games, the all-female event will be heldat the dazzling Aquatics Centre during London 2012.
Power, subtlety and lightning-fast reflexes will all beon display at ExCeL during the Table Tenniscompetition. The sport has come a long way from itsorigins in the late 19th century, when it developed asan after-dinner game played by upper-class Englishfamilies.
The word Taekwondo translates into English asthe way of foot and fist – an accurate description ofthe principles behind this Korean martial art. Powerfulkicks and punches are, literally, the name of the game,which offers tension, drama and plenty of action.
Every four years, the Olympic Tennis tournamentattracts the world’s top stars. At Beijing 2008, RafaelNadal won the men’s Singles, while the Williamssisters triumphed in the women’s Doubles. All theplayers will be aiming for a showdown onWimbledon’s Centre Court, where the Olympicchampions will be crowned.
Prepare to be dazzled by the athletes in theTrampoline, the newest of the three Gymnasticsdisciplines on the Olympic program. Since making itsOlympic debut at the Sydney Games in 2000, thesport has consistently featured awe-inspiring displaysof acrobatic excellence, with athletes jumping toheights of up to 10 meters.
The precise origins of Triathlon are unknown:some say that the sport began in France between thewars, others that it really developed in the UnitedStates during the late 1970s. Whatever the truehistory, Triathlon is now one of the fastest-growingsports in the world.
In 1895, William G Morgan devised a game he calledmintonette, which he intended as a gentlealternative to basketball for older members of hisYMCA gym. A century later, Volleyball is anythingbut gentle – few sports on the Olympic program offersuch fast and exhilarating action.
Water Polo developed during the 19th centuryas an aquatic version of rugby, played informally inrivers and lakes. The version of the game that survivestoday is closer to Handball: a fast, tough anddemanding sport, it has featured on every Olympicprogram since the Paris 1900 Games.
Weightlifting will showcase a test of purestrength – the oldest and most basic form of physicalcompetition. The aim of Weightlifting is simple: to liftmore weight than anyone else. The result is puresporting theatre of the most dramatic kind, and a realspectator favorite.
Recognized as one of the world’s oldest sports,Wrestling was first held at the ancient Olympicsin 708 BC, and Greco-Roman Wrestling was includedat the Athens 1896 Games The London 2012Wrestling competition consists of two disciplines –Greco-Roman, where athletes use their upper bodiesand arms only, and Freestyle, where athletes can useany part of their bodies.