The Sports Section - Let the Games Begin

[Cover]Sports Fans - have you cleared your calendar from July 27-August 12?  The Summer Olympics 2012 in London are almost here.  Time to gear up again, starting with the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night.

Since NBC will provide wall-to-wall coverage of the games on multiple channels, on the internet and mobile devices, and will include everything you've always wanted to know about the sports events and athletes, here are some interesting facts and trivia they may not mention.

  • This is London's third time to host the modern Summer Olympics - they also hosted in 1908 and 1948.
  • There will be an estimated 10,500 athletes representing 204 nations.  Team USA will field a team of 530 athletes.
  • Competitors will vie for medals in 300 events in 26 sports.  Gone from the list of sports this year are Softball and Baseball.  There are no new sports, but a new event has been added - Women's Boxing.
  • The "Gold" Medals are actually composed of 1.5% gold, 92.5% silver, and the rest copper.
  • The food canteen in Olympic Village can hold 5,000 people and expects to serve 14 million meals during the Olympics and Paralympics (Aug. 29-Sept. 9).

One of the biggest questions still remaining is who will light the Olympic Torch.  The torch relay is working its way towards London and speculation has it that the two favorites for lighting the Olympic Flame are 5X British Rowing Gold Medalist Steve Redgrave or 2X Decathlon Champion Daley Thompson.  We'll have the answer on Friday night.

Root for the Home Team - Among the many competitors with an Ohio connection are these outstanding Olympians from Northeast Ohio:

  • Terrell Gausha - Glenville High School graduate - Boxing, middleweight.
  • Tianna Madison - Elyria High School graduate - Track & Field, 100 meters, 4x100 relay.
  • Margot Shumway - Westlake High School graduate - Rowing, double sculls - it can't get any more local than this!  Good luck, Margot!!


Tour de France - I caught a lot more of this year's race coverage than ever before and was most intrigued by:

  • The crowds.  The Tour is the only sport in the world that gives fans almost unlimited access to the riders on the course.  They are in such close proximity that they can and do touch the riders.  It was quite disconcerting to me that some of these zealous fans are waving flags in the riders' faces, stepping into their path, and patting them on the back..  Not my favorite aspect of the Tour, but it would be nearly impossible to set up 2000 miles of barricades to keep the crowd back.
  • The endurance of the riders.  The race is comprised of 20 stages (plus a prologue) ridden over 3 weeks, with only 2 rest days.  The race covers about 2000 miles, much of it in the mountains.
  • The strategies of the teams and riders.  There were 198 participants on 22 teams (9 per team).  There was constant maneuvering among the leaders and the teams.  I learned about Pelotons, leaders, chasers, and that you don't have to win every stage to be the overall winner.  Also, there is a lot of good sportsmanship in cycling.
  • The spectacular scenery.  A helicopter hovered low over the riders and offered amazing views of the mountains, villages, chateaus, and French countryside.

Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins (and his team SKY) on his 2012 Tour de France victory, the first ever for a rider from Great Britain.

Featured Book: The Happiness of Pursuit: A Father's Courage, A Son's Love, and Life's Steepest Climb by Davis Phinney (796.62092 P572H - 2011).  From the publisher: 

"For two decades, Davis Phinney was one of America's most successful cyclists.  He won two stages at the Tour de France and an Olympic medal.  But after years of feeling off, he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's.  The body that had been his ally was now something else - a prison.  The Happiness of Pursuit is the story of how Davis sought to overcome his Parkinson's by reaching back to what had made him so successful on the bike and adjusting his perspective on what counted as a win."

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