Water Polo

•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Water Polo is one of the four disciplines of the sport of Aquatics.

Did you know?

Around 800 water polo balls will be used during the competition.
Top Water Polo players swim five kilometres (three miles) in the course of a match.
Water Polo developed in England in the 19th century. Great Britain won four of the first five Olympic Water Polo tournaments.

Key facts

Venue: Water Polo Arena
Dates: Sunday 29 July – Sunday 12 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 2
Athletes: 260

Water Polo: a history of the sport

Water polo was developed in Europe and the United States as two differing sports. When water polo first began, fighting between players was common, if not the norm.

In 1897, New Yorker Harold Reeder formulated the first American rules for discipline, which were aimed at curbing the sport’s more violent tendencies.
Ultimately, the faster, less dangerous European style predominated, and today this is the form of the game practised universally.

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Naming the game

In the early days, the players rode on floating barrels that resembled mock horses, and swung at the ball with mallet-like sticks. This made it similar to equestrian polo, hence its name.

Water Polo at the Games

Men’s Water Polo made its debut at the 1900 Paris Games. Since then, by far the greatest exponents of the sport have been the Hungarians. Between 1928 and 1980, Hungary never failed to win a medal at the Olympic Games, and took home six of 10 possible gold medals between 1932 and 1976.

The newest Aquatics event in the Games is women’s Water Polo, which was introduced in Sydney 2000 – 100 years after the first men’s competition took place in Paris 1900.

How to play – and win

Water polo is a water-based version of handball. Players use a ball weighing between 400g and 450g. They aim to score goals in a three-metre wide, 90-centimetre high net that sits on top of the water.

Each team only has 30 seconds to score before the ball is passed to the opposition. As well as ball skills, players need stamina: you are not allowed to touch the bottom or the side of the pool during a match, which lasts for four periods of seven minutes each. Top water polo players swim five kilometres (three miles) in each match.

Jargon buster

  • Ball under: A foul called on a player for taking or holding the ball underwater when an opponent tackles the player.
  • Dry pass: A pass in water polo that is designed to be caught before the ball hits the water. 
  • Eggbeater: A powerful way of treading water, used in synchronised swimming and water polo. 
  • Swim-off: A race for the ball in the centre of the field of play to start each period.

Get involved

If you want to know more about clubs, facilities and coaching schemes in your area, contact your national federation. Visit British Swimming, Federation Internationale de Natation, Welsh Amateur Swimming Association, Swim Ulster and Scottish Swimming.

water polo at the Beijing games


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Olympic sport of Volleyball includes two disciplines: Volleyball and Beach Volleyball.

Did you know?

A five-a-side game similar to volleyball was played in the Middle Ages.
A volleyball ball weighs between 260g and 280g. It is made of synthetic leather.
The famous ‘set and spike’ play was invented in the Philippines, and originally known as ‘the Philippino Bomb’.
A total of 384 athletes will compete for four gold medals in the sport of Volleyball at the 2012 Games.

Key facts


 Venue: Earls Court
Date: Saturday 28 July – Sunday 12 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 2
Athletes: 288

Volleyball: a history of the sport

Volleyball began in the same place as basketball – a YMCA gym in Massachusetts, USA.

In 1895, four years after James Naismith invented basketball, his friend William G. Morgan came up with a game he called ‘mintonette’ – designed as a more gentle alternative to basketball for older members of the gym.

Mintonette grew into modern volleyball, which is anything but gentle, as players leap and smash their way to success in one of the world’s fastest sports.

For more information on the history of the sport visit the IOC website.

Volleyball at the Olympic Games 

Volleyball first appeared in the Games at Tokyo 1964. Historically, the dominant forces in world Volleyball have been Brazil, Italy and Russia.

How to play

Volleyball is played by two teams of six on an 18 x 9 metre (60 x 30 feet) indoor court. The teams are divided by a net that stands 2.43m (96 inches) high for men and 2.24m (88in) for women.

The object of the game is to hit the ball over the net to land in the other team’s half of the court. Players normally use their hands to try to keep the ball in the air and set up point-winning plays, although the ball can be played by any part of the body.

Each team is allowed three touches of the ball before it must cross back over the net. Matches are the best of five sets, with 25 points needed to win a set (15 in the fifth and deciding set).

In 2012, the Olympic Volleyball competition will feature 12 teams in a preliminary round, divided into two pools of six teams.

A total of 76 matches will be played during 16 days of competition – 38 matches each for women and men.

Jargon buster


  • Spike: To smash the ball overarm into the opponent’s court.
  • Dig: The act of passing the ball underarm, normally on service receive and back court defence
  • Setter: a specialist player who acts as the link between the passer and the attacking hitters
  • Libero: a specialist back court player for service reception and retrievals from opposition attacks.
  • Block: preventing the attacking ball to come over the net by forming a ‘wall’ of hands at the net.
  • Wipe: where players intentionally hit the ball into the opposition block so that it goes out of play to win a point for the attackers.
  • Shoot: a very fast attack where the setter plays the ball out to the wing attacker as fast as possible to beat the opposition blockers.


Get involved

If you want to get started in this fast and exciting team sport, contact your home nation’s federation:

National Governing Bodies:

British Volleyball Federation 

English Volleyball Association 

Scottish Volleyball Association 

Northern Ireland Volleyball Association 

Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB)  

Volleyball at Beijing 2008


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Olympic sport of Triathlon consists of swimming, cycling and running.

Did you know?

The world’s leading competitors take less than one hour 50 minutes to complete an Olympic-distance triathlon.
London hosts Europe’s largest triathlon at ExCeL – a London 2012 venue.
The first Olympic Triathlon champions were Brigitte McMahon (Switzerland) and Simon Whitfield (Canada).

Key facts

Venue: Hyde Park
Dates: Saturday 4 and Tuesday 7 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 2
Athletes: 110 (55 men, 55 women)

Triathlon: a history of the sport 

Triathlon is thought to be the fastest-growing individual sport in the UK.

It attracts a wide range of athletes because it combines three different disciplines.

The sport developed from the fitness craze that swept California in the early 1970s, and the first race was held in San Diego in 1974.

For more information on the history of the sport visit the IOC website.

Triathlon at the Games

Triathlon made its Games debut at Sydney 2000, where half a million spectators lined the streets to watch the event. Since then, the sport has continued to grow in popularity around the world, producing world class athletes on every continent.

How the competition runs

The Olympic Triathlon starts with a 1,500m swim in open water. Competitors then cycle 40km before finishing with a 10km run. The gaps between the stages are known as ‘transitions’.

These often prove crucial to the end result as athletes gain or lose time on their rivals by taking off their wetsuit and putting on their shoes.

Jargon buster

  • Drafting: Cycling in a pack of riders as opposed to riding alone.
  • Pontoon: The floating apparatus that triathletes dive off to begin the swimming stage.
  • Wet suit: An all-in-one body suit that can be worn if the water is between 14 and 20 degrees. Above 20 degrees wetsuits are not allowed.

Get involved

Triathlon is a sport for people of all ages and backgrounds, and – with races held over a wide range of distances – there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

The British Triathlon Federation’s Home Nations – Triathlon England, triathlonscotland and Welsh Triathlon – oversee a network of clubs, coaches, volunteers and races across the country.

For more information, contact the British Triathlon Federation, the National Governing Body of the sport in the United Kingdom.

Also visit the International Triathlon Union.

triathlon start-beijing 2008


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Just three weeks after the end of the annual grand slam tournament, Wimbledon will once again welcome the best players in the world for the London 2012 Olympic Games Tennis competition.

Did you know?

The first tennis balls were made of wool or hair, wrapped up in leather.
The first tennis rackets were wooden, with strings made of sheep or bovine intestines.
One theory behind the unusual scoring system used in a tennis game relates to the presence of a clock on the court. People think that the clock hand was moved forward by 15 minutes a time to record the score.
Tennis gets its name from the French ‘tenez’, which means ‘here you go’. Players used to shout this phrase before they served the ball.
‘Love’ – the term for ‘no points’ in tennis – is thought to come from the French word ‘l’oeuf’, meaning ‘egg’ – the shape of a zero.
King Henry VIII was a champion in ‘real (or ‘royal’) tennis’ – a precursor of the modern sport.

Key facts

Venue: Wimbledon
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Sunday 5 August
Events: Men’s and women’s Singles and Doubles; Mixed Doubles
Medal events: 5
Athletes: 172 (86 men, 86 women)

Every four years, the Olympic Tennis tournament attracts the world’s top stars. At Beijing in 2008, for instance, Rafael Nadal won the men’s Singles, while the Williams sisters triumphed in the women’s Doubles. All the players will be aiming for a showdown on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, where the Olympic champions will be crowned.

The basics

The Tennis competition at London 2012 will feature five medal events. Along with men’s and women’s Singles and men’s and women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles will be making its first Olympic appearance since 1924.

All matches will be the best of three sets with the exception of the men’s Singles final, which will be the best of five sets, and all Mixed Doubles matches, which will be resolved by a first-to-10 tie-break if they reach one set all.

At London 2012, the Tennis tournament will be played according to a knockout format, with the winners of the semi-finals in each event going head-to-head on Centre Court for the gold medals.

Olympic Tennis, past and present

Tennis appeared at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 but was dropped from the programme after the Paris 1924 Games. It returned 64 years later, with Miloslav Mečíř (Czechoslovakia) and Steffi Graf (West Germany) winning gold in the two singles tournaments at Seoul 1988.

The Tennis competition at London 2012 will be held on the grass courts of Wimbledon, which has its own Olympic history. The venue staged the Tennis competition when London first hosted the Olympic Games in 1908, with Great Britain winning all six gold medals

Jargon buster

  • Ace: A legal serve that the opposing player fails to touch with their racket
  • Baseline: The far boundary line at either end of the court
  • Lob: A ball hit high in the air, usually deep into the opponent’s court
  • Love: No points; zero
  • Tie-break: If the score in games reaches 6-6 in anything other than the deciding set, there is a tie-break, won by the first player or doubles team to reach seven points with a margin of at least two clear points. A first-to-10 tie-break is also used to decide Mixed Doubles matches that reach one set all.

Get Get Involved

The Lawn Tennis Association  (LTA) runs various schemes to help young people in Britain get started and become winners. Your local club is the best place to learn, and public courts are a great place to practice your skills. The LTA website includes a ‘Find a Club’ facility, while the Active Places website  also allows you to search for indoor courts in England.

For information about Tennis in Northern Ireland go to the Ulster branch of Tennis Ireland.

Or for more on the sport, see the website of the International Tennis Federation (itftennis.com).

C:\fakepath\tennis beijing2008


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Expect plenty of excitement at ExCeL when the Taekwondo competitors take to the court at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Did you know?

More than 60 million people in 190 countries around the world take part in Taekwondo.
Team GB won its first Olympic medal in the sport of Taekwondo at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: Sarah Stevenson won a bronze in Female 72kg+.
In 2008 Taekwondo player Rohullan Nikpai won Afghanistan its first ever Olympic medal when he won bronze in the men’s 58kg competition.
There are only four weight divisions at the Olympic Games, compared to eight at the World Championships.
On average, it takes three to four years’ training to reach the ‘black belt’ status.

Key facts

Venue: ExCeL
Dates: Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 August
Medal events: 8
Athletes: 128 (64 men, 64 women)

The word ‘Taekwondo’ translates into English as ‘the way of foot and fist’ – an accurate description of the principles behind this Korean martial art. Powerful kicks and punches are, literally, the name of the game, which offers tension, drama and plenty of action.

The basics

The object of Taekwondo is to land kicks and punches on your opponent’s scoring zones: one point is awarded for a valid kick or punch to the torso, two points for a valid spinning kick, and four points for a turning kick to the head.

The action takes place inside an 8m x 8m zone called a court, with each contest made up of three two-minute rounds. Over their standard white uniform, known as a ‘dobok’, competitors wear coloured protective equipment. The competitor wearing blue is referred to as ‘chung’, while the competitor in red is ‘hong’.

The eight Taekwondo events at the London 2012 Games – four weight categories for men, four for women – will be played in a knockout format. The winners of each contest will qualify for the next round, with the two finalists going head to head in the gold medal contest. All competitors who lose to one of the finalists will enter the ‘repechage’, which will eventually determine the winners of the bronze medals.

Olympic Taekwondo, past and present

Taekwondo made its debut as a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 Games, but was not officially added to the Olympic programme until the Sydney 2000 Games. At London 2012, the Taekwondo competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Jargon buster

  • Chung: The competitor wearing blue
  • Dobok: A competitor’s uniform
  • Hong: The competitor wearing red
  • Shi-jak: The command to start fighting
  • Gam-jeon: A deduction penalty

Get involved

The British Taekwondo Control Board  can provide you with the names and addresses of clubs across the UK. The World Taekwondo Federation website also has plenty of news and information about the sport.

Taekwondo competition at Beijing 2008

Table Tennis

•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Power, subtlety and lightning-fast reflexes will all be on display at ExCeL during the exciting London 2012 Olympic Games Table Tennis competition.

Did you know?

Other names for Table Tennis include ‘Ping Pong’, ‘Whiff Waff’ and ‘Flim Flam’, reflecting the sound of the ball being struck and bouncing off the table.
Table Tennis was banned in the former Soviet Union from 1930 to 1950 because the sport was believed to be harmful to the eyes.
Top players previously used sophisticated rubber and applied special glues to their rackets to help them put spin and speed on the ball.
Ivor Montagu of England was the founding ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) President, serving from 1926 until 1967.
Table Tennis balls are hollow and weigh approximately 2.7 grams (0.88 oz). They are made of celluloid.

Key facts

Venue: ExCeL
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Wednesday 8 August
Medal events: 4
Athletes: 172 (86 men, 86 women)

Table Tennis has come a long way from its origins in the late 19th century, when it developed as an after-dinner game played by upper-class English families. More than a century later, Table Tennis is a breathtaking spectacle that blends power, speed, skill and subtlety – no wonder it’s the biggest participation sport in the world.

The basics

Table Tennis is based on the same basic principles as Tennis, but it has a very different scoring system. Singles matches are played over the best of seven games, with the first player to 11 points (by a margin of two clear points) winning each game. Team matches, meanwhile, consist of four singles matches and one doubles match, each played over the best of five games.

Both the Singles and Team events at London 2012 will be run in a knockout format. Players and teams will progress through the draw until the finals, which will decide the winners of the gold medals.

Olympic Table Tennis, past and present

Since Table Tennis joined the Olympic programme in 1988, China has won 20 of the 24 available gold medals. The only European Olympic gold medallist so far has been the legendary Swedish player Jan-Ove Waldner: nicknamed ‘the Mozart of Table Tennis’, Waldner won the men’s Singles at Barcelona in 1992.
At London 2012, the Table Tennis competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Jargon buster

  • Blade: The flat, rigid part of the racket used for striking the ball.
  • Loop: An attacking shot, often played with plenty of topspin.
  • Penhold: A type of grip where the racket is held as if it was a pen
  • Let: As well as service lets (similar to Tennis), a let may be called if play is interrupted – for example, by a ball from another table entering the playing area. If this happens, the rally is replayed.
  • Time-out: Each player may claim a time-out of up to one minute during an individual match.

Get involved

Table Tennis is fast, fun and easy to learn. If you want to start playing, the chances are there is a club or league near you. Find out more from the English Table Tennis Association, the Irish Table Tennis Association, the Table Tennis Association of Wales, Table Tennis Scotland and the International Table Tennis Federation

table tennis competition atthe beijing games

Synchronised Swimming

•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Synchronised Swimming is one of the four disciplines of the sport of Aquatics.

Did you know?

Synchronised Swimming began as a sport for men in the 1800s. It is now one of two sports on today’s Olympic programme to be contested only by women. The other is Rhythmic Gymnastics.
The pool must be a minimum of 20m by 30m, and within that a 12m by 12m area must be at least 3m deep. The water temperature must be 26 degrees Celsius, plus or minus one degree.
Hollywood star Esther Williams performed water ballet in several American movies in the 1940s and 1950s. She hoped to compete in the 1940 Olympic Games, but they were cancelled because of World War II.
Synchronised Swimming began as a sport for men in the 1800s. It is now one of two sports on today’s Olympic programme to be contested only by women. The other is Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Key facts

Venue:  Aquatics Centre
Dates: Sunday 5 – Friday 10 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 2
Athletes: 104

Synchronised Swimming: a history of the sport

At the turn of the 20th century, Annette Kellerman, an Australian swimmer, toured the United States performing water acrobatics. Her shows proved very popular and a sport was born.

The sport was developed further by Katherine Curtis, who had the idea of combining water acrobatics with music. Her students performed at the 1933-34 Chicago ‘Century of Progress’ Fair, where the announcer, former Olympic Swimming gold medallist Norman Ross, coined the term ‘synchronised swimming’.

The competitive aspect was developed around the same time when Frank Havlicek, a student of Katherine Curtis, drew up a set of rules.

For more information on the history of the sport visit the IOC website.

Synchronised Swimming at the Games

Synchronised Swimming has featured at the Games since London 1948.

The sport did not achieve medal status until Los Angeles 1984.

How the competition runs

Synchronised Swimming is sometimes called ‘water ballet’, as competitors perform short routines to music in the pool. Routines are judged on technical merit and artistic impression.

Synchronised Swimming demands advanced water skills, great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater.

Athletes use nose clips to help them stay underwater for longer, while underwater speakers help them to stay synchronised.

The two events are for women only: Duet (for pairs) and Team (for groups of eight).

Jargon buster

  • Deckwork: The mood-setting moves that swimmers perform on the deck once the music starts before they enter the water. 
  • Eggbeater: A powerful way of treading water, used in Synchronised Swimming and Water Polo.
  • Ballet leg: A position where one leg is extended perpendicular to the water surface, with the body in a back layout position. 
  • Rocket split: A move involving a thrust to the vertical position, followed by a rapid leg split before returning to the vertical position at maximum height.

Get involved

If you want to know more about clubs, facilities and coaching schemes in your area, contact your national federation. Visit British Swimming, Federation Internationale de Natation, Welsh Amateur Swimming Association, Swim Ulser and Scottish Swimming.

synchronised swimmiing at the beijing 2008 games


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Swimming is one of the four disciplines of the Olympic sport of Aquatics.

Did you know?

Underwater Swimming featured at the Paris 1900 Games. Competitors earned points for the length of time and distance they were underwater.
There will be 53 sets of lane ropes used during the swimming competition.
The ‘crawl’ technique used in Freestyle Swimming was developed by a British Swimming instructor called J. Arthur Trudgeon. He based it on a native American style of Swimming that he had discovered during a trip to South America in the 1870s.
Johnny Weissmuller, the first man to swim 100 metres in under a minute, was just as famous out of the pool. He helped save the lives of 11 people when a boat capsized on Lake Michigan, and also played the role of Tarzan in films.
The first official tie in Olympic Swimming history came in Los Angeles 1984, when American teammates Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer proved inseparable in the 100m Freestyle event.
The swimming pool for the London 1908 Olympic Games was built inside the athletics track.

Key facts

Venue: Aquatics Centre
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Saturday 4 August; 10km Marathon: Thursday 9 and Friday 10 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 34
Athletes: 850

Swimming: a history of the sport

Prehistoric man learnt to swim in order to cross rivers and lakes – we know this because cave paintings from the Stone Age depicting swimmers have been found in Egypt. Swimming was also referred to in Greek mythology.

The first organised swimming races did not take place until the 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain was created.

There were still no official rules or standards when Aquatics featured in the programme for the first modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896, Paris 1900 and St Louis 1904.

The Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) was formed during the London 1908 Olympic Games competition to act as a governing body for the sport.

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Swimming at the Games

Swimming has featured in every edition of the Games since 1896. Early Olympic events were conducted in freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was added in 1904.

At the first three modern Olympic Games, Swimming took place in open water – in seas, rivers and lakes. A pool was used for the first time at the London 1908 Games, where the rules were finally standardised.

In the 1940s, breaststrokers discovered they could go much faster by bringing both arms overhead together. This was soon banned in the breaststroke, but became the butterfly stroke, which is now the fourth stroke used in competitive swimming.

The newest Aquatics event in the Games is the Marathon 10km, which took place for the first time in Beijing in 2008.

How the competition runs

Traditional Swimming races take place over distances ranging from 50 metres to 1,500m. Unless it is a Freestyle event, competitors have to use a particular swimming stroke: Breaststroke, Butterfly or Backstroke. There are also Medley events which combine all four strokes.

Olympic races take place in a 50m-long pool divided into 10 lanes, with only the middle eight lanes used by swimmers. The swimmer who touches the pool wall first at the end of the race is the winner. The Olympic programme includes both individual and team men’s and women’s events.

The Marathon 10km races are swum outside in areas of open water such as the sea, a lake or a river, and competitors usually swim circuits around buoys positioned in the water.

Jargon buster

Medley: A combination event in which a swimmer or relay team swims separate legs of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.
Negative split: A race strategy in which a competitor swims the second half of a race faster than the first half.
Tumble turn: An underwater roll at the end of a lap that allows a swimmer to push off from the end of the pool with his feet.
Turn judge: An official at each end of the lane responsible for ensuring a swimmer turns correctly and, in the longer races, for displaying lap cards to inform a swimmer how many laps remain.

Get involved

To get started, head down to your local pool, you can search for one at Active Places (England only). If you want to know more about clubs, facilities and coaching schemes in your area, contact your national federation. Visit British Swimming, Federation Internationale de Natation, Scottish Swimming, Welsh Amateur Swimming Association, and Swim Ulster.

For advice on swim fitness programmes visit the Swimfit website.

Swimming pool


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, the sport of Shooting will feature three disciplines: Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun.

Did you know?

There will be around 275,000 clay targets for the Shotgun competition.
Hungarian shooter Karoly Takac, taught himself to shoot left-handed after a grenade blew off his right arm in 1938. Ten years later, he won two gold medals at the London 1948 Games.
Running Target or ‘Deer’ events were held from 1908 until 2000. This discipline replicated deer hunting, using a crossing target at ranges of 100m in 1908, reducing to 10m in 2000.
Between 1896 and 2004, British athletes won 88 Olympic medals in Shooting.
Shooting had more athletes than any other sport at the Athens 1896 Olympic Games.
At Barcelona 1992, China’s Zhang Shan became the first woman to win Gold in a mixed-sex shooting event. After these Games, the International Shooting Union stopped men and women competing against each other.

Key facts

Venue: The Royal Artillery Barracks
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Sunday 5 August
Events: 15 events in all: five in each of the three disciplines (Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun). In each of these disciplines, three events are for men and two for women.
Gold medals up for grabs: 15
Athletes: 390

Shooting: a history of the sport 

Shooting developed as a hunting sport. The earliest shooting clubs were recorded in central Europe in the 15th century. The rules and competition structure of modern shooting were developed in Europe and the USA, spreading worldwide in the late 19th century.

Today, top marksmen and women come from a wide range of countries – every continent is represented at the Olympic Games.

For mor information on the history of the sport visit the IOC website. 

Shooting at the Games

Shooting was one of the sports on the programme of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896.

The worldwide development of the sport has seen it grow from three events at those Games to 15 today.

Women first took part in Shooting at Mexico City 1968. They used to compete alongside men, but separate men’s and women’s events have been held since 1996.

 How to play

Shooting is made up of Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun competitions.

In Pistol and Rifle events, competitors fire bullets at a target from a set distance.

They score points according to the accuracy of their shots. The targets consist of 10 rings, with a ‘bullseye’ at the centre that counts for 10.9 points in Olympic finals.

Pistol targets are either fixed at 50m and 10m, or turn to set time sequences at 25m.

In the Shotgun event, competitors fire lead pellets (‘shot’) at moving clay targets. These are launched from different directions, and in sequences originally designed to look like birds in flight.

Jargon buster

  • Firing line: The line where competitors position themselves to shoot their targets.
  • Clay shooting: The sport of shooting at clay targets thrown into the air by a trap machine.
  • String: A series of shots – usually five or ten.
  • Lost: A shotgun target that has not been hit. 
  • Three positions: Rifle events that require competitors to shoot in the prone, standing and kneeling positions at a distance of 50m.

Get involved

Shooting is a fun way to learn discipline and responsibility. In the UK, more than 350,000 people currently practice the sport, with equal numbers of boys and girls entering competitions.
If you want to get involved, British Shooting is a good place to start.

As with many sports, there are schemes to encourage young people to reach a high level.

Find details of all the Shooting clubs and facilities in your local area by visiting British Shooting, the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association and the National Small-bore Rifle Association.

shooting competition at Beijing 2008


•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The waters of Weymouth Bay will play host to 10 exhilarating Sailing events during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Did you know?

Crown Prince Olav of Norway won Gold in the Six-metre Sailing class at the Amsterdam 1928 Games.
Boats are identified on the water by a national country code on the sails.
The first woman to win an Olympic Sailing medal was Frances Rivett-Carna of Great Britain, who won gold in London 1908.
Great Britain was the most successful Sailing nation at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 – winning four of the 11 gold medals.
Women have always been allowed to take part in Olympic Games Sailing competition, but events for women only were introduced at Seoul 1988.
The sport’s name was changed from ‘Yachting’ to ‘Sailing’ at the Sydney 2000 Games.

Key facts

Venue: Weymouth and Portland
Dates: Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August
Medal events: 10
Athletes: 380 (237 men, 143 women)

Mastery over ever-changing conditions on open water requires skill and nerve. Both will be essential for competitors in the Sailing events at London 2012, 14 days of competition that should offer plenty of excitement and drama in the beautiful but testing waters of Weymouth Bay, on the south coast of England.

The basics

At London 2012, the 10 different Olympic Sailing events (six for men, four for women) will feature a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards.

Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position: the winner gets one point, the second-placed finisher scores two, and so on. After The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled. Following the medal race,, the individual or crew with the fewest total points will be declared the winner.

Olympic Sailing, past and present

Sailing made its Olympic debut in 1900; with the exception of 1904, the sport has appeared at every Olympic Games since then.

Led by triple gold medal-winner Ben Ainslie CBE, Team GB has topped the Sailing medals table at the last three Olympic Games. British sailors will be hoping to repeat the feat at London 2012, battling their rivals in Weymouth Bay. London 2012 is considering making Sailing a ticketed event.

Jargon buster

  • Fleet race: Three or more competitors racing against each other.
  • Match race: Two competitors racing head to head, with slightly different racing rules that allow aggressive tactics
  • Port: When looking forwards, the left-hand side of the craft
  • Starboard: When looking forwards, the right-hand side of the craft.
  • Tacking: When a boat passes through the eye of the wind in order to change direction. Because it is impossible to sail directly into the wind, sailing boats must zig-zag.

Get involved

More than 2.5 million people around the world regularly take part in Sailing. If you’re keen to join them, get in touch with the Royal Yachting Association which operates centres for beginners all over the country as well as overseas. Tthe International Sailing Federation has information on the sport at international level.

sailing competition at Beijing 2008