Lifestyle

Five Olympic Sports You Have To Try

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Inspired by the Olympics? Well here are five Olympic sports to get your pulses racing

TRIATHLON

As British Triathlon celebrates its best ever Olympic Games, the successes of the two Brownlee brothers and gutsy performance of Helen Jenkins has persuaded more people than ever to give triathlon a go.

Triathlon is a fast-growing, modern and dynamic sport that is still very much in its Olympic infancy, having only been added to the Games in 2000.

The sport takes a variety of forms and distances, but at the Olympic Games, athletes compete over a course consisting of a 1,500m swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run. Races are continuous with no break between the three elements: the swimming element is held in a pool or in open water, with the bike and run elements held on roads or trails.

DISPUTED BEGINNINGS

Although triathlon is a young sport, there is some disagreement over when it was first invented. Some claim that it originated in France during the 1920s and 1930s as a result of a race called ‘Les Trois Sports’ (the three sports), which started outasa3kmrun,a12km bike ride and a swim across a river channel. Others believe that the concept was created in San Diego, USA in the 1970s when a group of friends who were cyclists, swimmers and runners decided they wanted to train together. They then formalised their training by holding the first modern triathlon, for 46 competitors, in September 1974.

At any rate, the sport has continued to grow since the first World Championships in 1989 – to the point where Paratriathlon will appear at the Paralympic Games for the first time in 2016.

TRIATHLON TECHNICALITIES AND TERMS

Drafting

■ The action of swimming or cycling behind or to the side of another competitor in order to go faster for less effort is known as drafting.

■ In the cycling leg of the race, drafting is legal for elite athletes but not for those competing at a lower level, where competitors are ranked in age categories.

■ In swimming, anyone is allowed to draft.

Brick

■ A brick is a training session consisting of a cycle then a run,or a swim and then a cycle.

Transitions

■ The transistions are the changeovers between the three elements of the race.

■ Because the clock doesn’t stop during transition periods, it’s essential that the athletes’ change of clothes and equipment between disciplines is completed as quickly as possible in order to avoid losing vital seconds – races can be won or lost simply because a shoe doesn’t go on smoothly.

Mount line

■ This is a line at the exit from the transition area on to the bike course after which athletes must mount their bicycles and proceed. There’s also a dismount line at the end of the bike course.

Pactrac Triathlon Club http://pactrac.co.uk

FENCING

Fencing is a fun, exciting sport, simple and cheap to start and keeps both your body and brain active! With three different weapons and a range of fun activities using foam and plastic swords, there is something for everyone and every age.

The sword is one of the oldest of weapons and, as Egyptian frescoes circa 1200BC show, fencing is one of the oldest of sports

The ability to demonstrate speed, skill and dexterity with a sword has always been considered an indication of manliness and throughout 17th and 18th century Europe duelling with rapiers settled ‘matters of honour’. The modern Olympic sport requires fencers to be the fittest of athletes and have levels of skills which require many hours of dedicated training.

In learning the skills of attacking and defending with either the Foil, Epee or Sabre fencers develop good co-ordination, balance and flexibility which makes fencing training an ideal means of keeping fit for all ages and abilities

Today’s Olympic programme features three types of weapon, with a total of ten Olympic gold medals up for grabs in 2016.

THE FOIL

A point weapon, derived from the court sword.

Fencers score a hit by striking their weapon’s point on their opponent’s torso.

To start an attack – fencers extend the arm and thus establish the right of way. Defenders have three options: get hit – retreat and make the attacker miss – or block (known as ‘parry’) the attack with the blade.

Top foilists can draw their opponent’s blade with feints – mock attacks – in order to open up different lines of attack. But points are only scored by hitting the defined target area.

THE ÉPÉE

A point weapon derived from the duelling sword this is the heaviest of the three swords.

What’s more, the target area is far bigger. A hit may be recorded anywhere on the body. This includes the fencer’s sword hand, so the épée has a large protective guard.

This is the easiest weapon for beginners to understand as there is no right of way rule. The athlete simply has to focus on registering a hit.

Epéeists try to outwit their opponents by opening and closing the distance between each other, changing the position (‘line’) of their weapon and employing feints. Epée bouts tend to take longer than the other two weapons.

THE SABRE

A cutting weapon

Sabreurs can hit opponents with the edge of the blade as well as the tip.

The sabre was derived from the old cavalry sword, so the target area in the modern sport consists of everything above the waist including the head.

The same right of way rule applies as in foil, but since point accuracy is not essential in sabre, the bouts are considerably faster.

Fencers tend to specialise in one of the three weapons. However, at the Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games, Nedo Nadi became the only fencer ever to win a gold medal with every weapon at a single Games.

Whichever the weapon, fencers must develop their footwork and bladework. Top fencers excel in both – neat, quick and accurate bladework is no good if footwork is poor.

A fencing outfit consists of:

■ A close-fitting jacket (covering the groin)

■ Underarm protector

■ Glove for the weapon arm

■ Breeches or knickers (ending just below the knee)

■ Thigh- or knee-high socks

■ A bibbed mask

■ Flat-soled shoes with special reinforcements

■ Women also have to wear a plastic chest protector

Oundle, Peterborough & Stamford Epee Club Club founder – Chris Howser Email – chrishowser@ hotmail.co.uk

Tel – 01780 784019

TAEKWONDO

Taekwondo is a martial art that originated in South Korea.

The modern version of the sport was not agreed until 1973, but taekwondo has its roots in many Korean forms of martial arts dating back more than 5,000 years.

Literally translated, the word taekwondo means ‘the way of foot and fist’, but is more accurately translated as ‘the art of kicking and punching’:

➜ Tae – foot ➜ Kwon – fist ➜Do–the art or way.

HOW IT WORKS

Taekwondo matches are fought in a court measuring 8m x 8m.

Contestants wear white suits, known in Korea as ‘doboks’, and either red (‘chung’) or blue (‘hong’) protective equipment called a ‘hogu’.They also wear other protective items including a head protector, groin, shin and forearm guards, hand protectors and a clear mouthpiece.

A match consists of three rounds of two minutes, with a one-minute break between rounds. A sudden-death fourth round is played in the event of a tie. If the fourth round results in a tie, the officials decide the winner based on the initiative shown in the final round.

Athletes are permitted to use parts of the foot below the ankle only to score points: no shin or knee techniques are allowed. They may only use a closed hand to punch.

Full-force attacks by fist and foot are only allowed on areas covered by the trunk protector.

Only foot techniques can be used to attack the head – these attacks may only be made to the front of the head.

Points are awarded to contestants when a kick or punch using accepted techniques is delivered with full force.

Points are awarded as follows:

■ One point for a valid attack on the trunk protector.

■ Two points for a valid turning (spinning) kick to the trunk protector

■ Three points for a valid kick to the head

■ Four points for a valid turning (spinning) kick to the head

■ If a player is knocked out or counted out, their opponent is declared the winner.

PAYING THE PENALTY
There are two types of penalty that may be given:

■ A kyong-go warning penalty is given for misdemeanours such as falling down, grabbing, holding or pushing, turning your back on your opponent or attacking below the waist. Two kyong-go penalties lead to a one-point addition to the opponent’s score.

■ A gam-jeom penalty is given for infractions such as attacking your opponent when the round has stopped, attacking a fallen opponent or intentionally attacking your opponent’s face with the hand. One gam-jeom penalty leads to a one-point addition to the opponent’s score. In the Olympic Games, opponents compete by sparring against each other, but breaking (wooden boards, or bricks), poomsae and self-defence are also key parts of the martial art of taekwondo and feature frequently in other competitions.

www.evolutiontkd.co.uk
Peterborough Martial Arts Academy Unit 3 and 4,
Wainman Road
Peterborough,
PE2 7BU
01733 235 230

ROWING

Requiring a unique mix of technique, power and endurance, rowing is one of Great Britain’s most successful Olympic sports – and Lonon 2012 proved to be no exception.

The four golds, two silvers and three bronzes won by Team GB rowers meant London 2012 was our best ever performance on the lake.

Rowing both on and off the water is a great way to develop your fitness or to stay physically active. Regular exercise, fun and companionship all contribute to your general well-being and good health.

Rowing comes in two forms: sculls, where each rower pulls two oars; and sweeps, where each rower pulls one oar. Sculls can be singles, doubles or quads, while sweeps are raced by pairs, fours or eights. The eights also have a cox calling the stroke rate.

What all these formats deliver is an amazing spectacle of pain and endurance over 2,000 metres of agony. Rowers face backwards, so a tactical and psychological advantage is gained by being in front from the start. They must begin with an explosive sprint, flooding their body with lactic acid, which means their muscles burn throughout the race.

Rowing is a sport of strategic physiology in which athletes must decide how much acid and pain they can carry through the race in return for being in front. Accelerating over the last 500m the rowers drive themselves so hard that, if correctly timed, their final stroke is the last they are able to pull.

Peterborough Rowing Club www.peterboroughcityrowing.co.uk

HANDBALL

It’s been described as a sport that combines all the best elements of basketball, water polo and football, with a little bit of rugby thrown in.

Matches last 60 minutes and players need to be all-round athletes: strength, power, agility and good aerobic fitness are all essential skills. This would go some way to explaining why handball is one of the most popular team sports across the world for women and men, spectators and players alike.

The International Handball Federation (IHF) officially numbers 155 member federations and estimates that it represents approximately 800,000 teams and more than 19 million sportsmen and women.

The sport’s elite men and women play professionally, mainly in Europe, and the ultimate objective for many players is to compete in the Olympic Games. The men’s and women’s versions of the sport are identical, except that the ball in the women’s game is slightly smaller.

THE RULES

Apart from the goalkeeper, nobody is allowed in the goal area, which is behind a 6m line from the goal. Players can jump over the area, but must shoot or pass the ball before touching the floor.

Players may not take more than three steps without bouncing the ball, and may not hold the ball for more than three seconds: this is called ‘walking’ and results in a turnover. If a player has the ball and bounces it, then holds it and then bounces it again, this is double dribbling, and is not allowed. Similarly, using your foot to contact the ball is not allowed by any player apart from the goalkeeper.

Fouls are called for tripping, pushing, hitting, charging or holding. Minor infringements result in a free throw; if a clear scoring chance is spoiled, the attacking team receives a penalty throw. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, the referee may give players a yellow card for a warning, a two-minute suspension, or a red card for a permanent dismissal.

Throw-ins are awarded after the ball has crossed a sideline, and are taken by the side that didn’t touch the ball last, with the player putting one foot on the line where the ball went out and passing it back into the court.

Attacking teams are awarded corner throws when a defender has knocked the ball over the goal line but wide of the goal itself. The player puts one foot on the corner of the side line and the goal line, then passes the ball into the court. Goal throws are awarded when the ball comes off a goalkeeper and crosses the goal line. The goalkeeper then takes the throw from within his or her own area.

Handball is a great sport to watch – referees may also hand out red cards to crowd members who fail to cheer for their team loudly enough!

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