Did You Know… Olympics Editionby Manon von Kaenel on Jun, 30 2012
Did you know…. it is almost time for the biggest showcase of human athleticism – the Summer Olympic Games?
This year, they are scheduled to take place in London from July 27 to August 12. That’s a little over 2 weeks to find and crown world champions in – in alphabetical order – archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe slalom, canoe sprint, cycling – BMX, cycling- mountain bike, cycling – road, cycling – track, diving, equestrian, fencing, football (soccer), gymnastics – artistic, gymnastics – rhythmic, handball, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis trampoline, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. In case you didn’t read that entire list, that’s 36 disciplines (and 20 in the concurrent Paralympic program). To get you fully prepared for this festival of athleticism, I believe a little game of “Did you know….?”
1) …That, for the opening ceremonies, enough costumes have been made so that you could wear a new one every day for 63 years. That’s a lot of costumes. Also: they will have a flying system that can lift five elephants. That’s a lot of lifting (but no promise that the show will involve elephants). However, the show will feature a 27-tonne bell, twice the size of Big Ben, inscribed with a quote from none other than William Shakespeare – “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”. The ever-so-crazy opening ceremony of the Olympic Games has always been an opportunity for the host nation to show off their talents (remember the extravaganza of Beijing 2008?), and usually lends for a spectacular, very visually-striking show. This one starts at 9pm local time on July 27 – don’t miss it!
2) …That Cal is going to London. As of now (trials are still ongoing), 20 athletes and 3 coaches from our very own university are qualified to appear at the 2012 Games. Check out a full list of our Olympic bears here. Despite my above comments about the wonders of the opening ceremony, the true beauty of the Olympics really lies with the athletes themselves – all 10,000+ of them. They are the best in their sports, and have gone through months of qualifiers (and years of training) all over the world to have a chance at claiming the world champion title. How amazing would it be to have a Cal Bear bring back some of that gold?
3) …That after 2012, London will have hosted the Olympic Games three times. The 1908 London Games featured the first and only sporting event of tug-of-war, and was surrounded by controversy with regards to the first-ever appearance of the flag parade (apparently the Americans weren’t too fond of “dipping” their flag to the King). 40 years later, the 1948 London Games marked the end of a 12-year Olympics-hiatus due to World War II. As you can guess, the political and economic climate of that time did not make these Games necessarily very warm and welcoming. In both instances, the Games remain in the collective memory of sports enthusiasts as extremely notable and full of “firsts” – hopefully the 2012 Games will join their ranks.
4) …That the Olympics are going green. The organizers of London 2012 have made sure that theirs will be the “greenest Games in history”. They partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and BioRegional to create a plan full of Olympian “firsts” with regards to energy, water, waste reduction, and much more. They will reuse 90% of demolition waste, send zero waste to landfill, use renewable sources for 11% of their energy needs, and use 30 to 40% less drinkable water than standard in their venues. They have also emphasized the importance of minimizing the amount of travel carbon associated with their event, pushing attendees to use public transport, walk or cycle (it is an athletics competition, after all). They even built a new fast train (appropriately called the “Javelin”) to carry passengers from central London to the Olympic Park (the large complex containing athlete’s “Olympic Village “and several sporting venues). It doesn’t stop there – the newly designed Olympic Park, also the largest new urban parkland created in Europe for more than 150 years, will feature restored wildlife wetland habitat, so that otters and swans can frolic in the same areas as athletes and spectators. In accordance with these “green” goals of the Games, McDonald’s even agreed to serve chicken at its Olympic venues exclusively from local British farms. Loraxes everywhere, time to celebrate!
So, now you know. Don’t forget to watch London 2012!