For 19 days this summer, the world’s biggest stage will be in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Women’s soccer will kick off the games Wednesday, July 25, men’s soccer follows July 26, and the opening ceremony is scheduled for July 27. The U.K. will be sure to showcase its vast history and pride during the ceremony, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip officially opening the games.
The Olympic torch, a long-lasting tradition, began its journey this year on May 19 in Land’s End, a small settlement on the southwest corner of England. When the torch arrives July 26 at the Olympic Stadium in London, it will finish a 70-day journey across the entire country. As of the time of this article’s publication, who will light the torch at the opening ceremony is yet to be determined.
This year will mark the first time London has hosted the Olympics since the 1948 Games. The city was supposed to host the games in 1944, but they were cancelled due to World War II. After placing a bid for the 1948 games, London won the rights as host venue once again.
In the 1948 Summer Olympics there were 136 events in 29 sports, while the 2012 edition of the games features 302 events in 26 sports. Over 10,000 athletes from 200 countries will compete in this year’s games and attempt to “Inspire a Generation,” which is the official motto of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The four sports that ought to be the most entertaining overall will be track and field, men’s swimming, women’s gymnastics and men’s basketball. Of course, other events will bring variety and interesting action to the summer games, but these four sports expect to evoke the most intrigue and competition and feature the best athletes.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt looks to take home the gold in the same three events (100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100 relay) that he won in Beijing in 2008. Standing in his way are a number of men who have emerged as serious contenders in recent years. Fellow countryman Yohan Blake would pose a tough challenge, as would Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and the rest of the United States team.
On the women’s side, American Allyson Felix is expected to compete for the gold in the 100-meter and 200-meter, along with fellow American Carmelita Jeter and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown. Meanwhile, the 4×100 relay should be one of the most entertaining events in the entire games, with the U.S. and Jamaica as clear-cut favorites.
In men’s swimming, American Michael Phelps will not be able to match his record-setting production of eight gold medals in 2008 because he is only competing in seven events this year. Phelps will not be participating in the 200-meter freestyle this year, which was one of seven events in which he set a world record during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Fellow American Ryan Lochte is expected to be Phelps’ main competition in the pool. The two will face off in two events in London: the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medleys, in which the heated rivalry may bring the water to a boil.
As usual, the U.S. boasts one of the best women’s gymnastics teams going into the Olympics. No member of the 2008 silver medal squad is on the 2012 team, including Nastia Liukin and Alicia Sacramone, who failed to qualify, and Shawn Johnson, who retired due to chronic left knee problems.
However, 16-year-olds Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas and McKayla Maroney lead what is sure to be a team destined for the top of the podium. Wieber is the favorite for all-around individual gold but will feel some pressure from Romanian and Russian gymnasts.
The most talked-about team at the 2012 Olympics may be this year’s U.S. men’s basketball “Dream Team.” With superstars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love and more, it would take some kind of disaster for this team not to win the gold.
Sure, Team USA could face threats from Spain, Argentina and France, but there is enough talent on the U.S. roster to defeat everybody else combined. After the 2008 “Redeem Team” took it to the world and left no doubt, this year’s team is set to dominate and leave the rest of the teams in the dust.
By the time of the closing ceremony on Aug. 12, over 900 total medals will have been awarded. When the fire goes out on these games, the next Olympics will be the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. But it is the summer’s turn now, and the action is about to heat up.