Single digits baby, we’ve finally come down to the wire. It is the FINAL COUNTDOWN for the London Olympics!
There has been a lot of hubbub about Michael Phelps going for an ungodly number of Olympic medals, if this Dream Team is the best Dream Team, and how fast Usain Bolt is going to be. This isn’t even mentioning the gymnastics, soccer, tennis, and (beach) volleyball rematches that should be epic.
Let’s talk about sports that don’t get a lot of mainstream love. Maybe they’re sports that don’t have a golden face or bod like Ryan Lochte, or sports that aren’t played at the local gym, they aren’t the underdog sports but maybe they are under-loved.
Here is my altruistic attempt to enlighten and educate and spread the joy of some slightly hidden Olympic treasures. Or if you’re feeling a tad cynical you can use this knowledge to sound aggressively pretentious and browbeat your buddies … your call.
1. Modern Pentathlon:
Back in Ancient Greece this was the climax of the Games. The winner was given the rank, “Victor Ludorum,” and I imagine this guaranteed you any toga-wearing lady you laid your eyes on. Back in the day athletes would run, throw spears, jump, discus, and wrestle. Today however, the games have undergone a serious makeover. In 1912, Baron de Coubertin introduced the modern pentathlon that includes pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding, and running (everything a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines would need to be able to do competently).
Why you should be pumped: This is like a Jason Bourne event. You have to sword fight and hit your opponent in under a minute or it's a “defeat”. Then swim 200m and jump on a horse and leap over a 12-fence course. The higher your score the bigger head start you get in the 1000m run. After you run you have to hit five targets in 70s with a LASER PISTOL.
Who to Watch: On the men’s side Russia is looking to sweep this event. The current world champion is Lesun Aleksander. The American long (long) shot would be Sam Sacksen. On the women’s side Laura Asadauskaite is dominant a Lithuanian stud. The American women are led by Rosalie Purvis who should finish in the top 20.
(Field) hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game it was played in Persia in 2000 BC. The Brits were the official developers of the game as soldiers, and workers took the game with them to the corners of the British Empire and it became an Olympic sport in 1908. Most of the dominant nations in the sport were/are members of the British Empire, except maybe the U.S. India men’s team has been the dominant force with six consecutive titles between 1928 and 1956 and was unbeaten in 30 consecutive matches.
Why you should be pumped: Come on, this just drips with imperialistic intrigue. Will the mother country which is hosting the Olympics be able to exert its dominance over the world once more? Or will the colonies rise up in defiance? The rules of this game are kind of difficult to follow and there are a lot of penalties that can be called. It has all the potential to be a potent drinking game.
Who to Watch: Argentina and the U.K. will open in pool play and it could get fiery! Argentina released a patriotic video that showed an Argentinean midfielder training on Falklands landmarks and ended with the slogan, “To compete on English soil, we are training on Argentine soil.” This historical jab strikes an emotional chord because it is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. Britain won following a surprise attack by the Argentines.However, the midfielder shown in the video failed to make the team, which just makes this a fail for Argentina. The U.S. men did not make the 12 team playoff, but look for the U.K. to play for pride. The American women have quite the climb as they are ranked 10th and will face stiff competition from the Germans and Argentinians.
You may have heard this sport mentioned in some Saturday Night Live skits making fun of Romney. His wife is a big lover of this somewhat bizarre sport. Dressage is considered the art of equestrian sport and is used as the groundwork for all other disciplines. Back in ancient Greece, dressage was a method for training horses for war. This sport kind of fell by the wayside until the Renaissance when there was a revival of the sport, and now we have horse riding in sync with music.
Why You should be Pumped: This is the Summer Olympics equivalent to Ice Dancing. You watch because it’s colorful, pretty and set to music. I also feel this sport is on the verge of having a reality TV show. Following in the footsteps of Dance Moms, The Real Housewives and those Kardashashians. This sport is scandalous. In the 1932 Olympics, Swedish equestrian Bertil Sandstrom won the silver after being demoted to last place for clicking to his horse for encouragement. He claimed it was a creaking saddle making the offending sound. I really can’t do this sport justice with words, please watch some of these videos and get ready to rumble! Hip Hop Dressage , BORN THIS WAY moves and here are the 2009 Highlights
Who to Watch: According to analysts who have devoted her time and smarts to breaking down equestrian and dressage greatness, the top teams to watch are the U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the U.S., and the top five riders as Dujardin, Kristina Sprehe (Germany), Helen Langehanenberg (Germany), Bechtolsheimer and Steffen Peters (U.S.). But really, I will be cheering on whoever has the freshest beats and wicked moves.
4. Water Polo
Maybe this sport is better known in other areas of the country, but I am still baffled by this ballgame in water. It looks like an easy way for people to get dunked under and have water rush up their nose. But I am coming around to this, it’s like full contact soccer in a pool where you use your arms … roll with that.
Why You Should be Pumped: This sport combines the swimmer body with a football mentality. Also both U.S. men's and women’s teams are poised to make a medal run. This is a good sport to mix up some of the non-ball sports like track and gymnastics. Throw this in the rotation with some basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Fast paced and full of chlorine with sexy headgear.
Who to Watch: USA USA USA! I may be optimistic but I am feeling it for ‘Merrrica this Olympics! The women’s squad has been on a medal podium since the introduction of the sport on the women’s side. Let’s keep the streak going this summer. While the Men have really come into their own with some clutch new brawny additions such as Jeff Powers. However, it’s hard to discount the powerhouse that is Hungarian men team. Unfortunately Hungary and America drew the same pool so that will be an epic bout.
Developed in 1934, trampolines were originally used to train astronauts. Trampolining made its first appearance at the 2000 Games in Sydney with men’s and women’s competitions. There will be a total of 32 competitors in trampoline (16 men and 16 women). All eligible to compete must turn 18 by December. To figure out a score there’s a simple formula: difficulty score + execution score + time of flight score = final score. The higher you bounce the more points you get!
Why you should be pumped: This is kind of like gymnastics condensed, all the tricks in a short high-flying package, flips on speed. I can’t imagine the accidents that could happen in training these athletes are shoving it back to gravity and testing limits of twisting. This is also somewhat like the circus and everyone loves the circus; but not clowns--they scare my sister.
Who to Watch: Savannah Vinsant is a contender to snag a medal while Steven Gluckstein is a 3-time US champion. If all goes well we should be seeing the stars and stripes flying in the background. However, Russia and China have also done astonishingly well in this event since its recent inauguration into the games.