2008 Olympics Event Guide

Special to

The Vindicator


Today’s archers still honor the fabled outlaw Robin Hood. The term “Robin Hood” now refers to splitting the shaft of an arrow already in the target with another arrow.

Athletics (Track and Field)

Athletics is, in many ways, the embodiment of the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” meaning faster, higher, stronger.


Most people don’t know that the world’s fastest racket sport is not tennis, but badminton.


Baseball became a full medal sport in Barcelona in 1992. The U.S. no longer dominates this sport in international play, as the Cubans and several Central American and Asian countries produce excellent teams.


For 36 years, the question has been not who would win, but who would finish second. The U.S. has owned the game – will that domination continue this summer?

Beach Volleyball

Because of the many difficulties of playing outdoors, such as the sand and the sun, beach volleyball players must have outstanding skills and court speed.


When it first arrived in the ancient Olympic Games, the tools of the trade were long strips of leather wrapped around boxers’ fists. The fight continued until one man went down or conceded.

Canoe/Kayak Flatwater

Canoe/kayak, consisting solely of the sprint, was a demonstration competition at the 1924 Olympic Games before gaining full-medal status in 1936.

Canoe/Kayak Slalom

The slalom events require the paddlers to negotiate 20 to 25 gates in turbulent water over a 300-meter course.

Cycling – BMX

Bicycle moto cross (BMX) started in the late 1960s in California. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to include BMX in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Cycling – Mountain Bike

Mountain biking debuted in the 1996 Games. The sport was about 40 years old then, if you date it back to the university student who first stripped down his bicycle and headed for the hills in 1953.

Cycling – Road

In the 1880s, bikes evolved from the awkward penny-farthing style to the sleeker shape of today. Since then, the sport has evolved as athletes and engineers experiment with anything that might shave a few seconds off their times.

Cycling – Track

In track cycling, the riders go nowhere, just around and around an oval track banked at 42 degrees.


Diving was popularized in Sweden and Germany during the 18th and 19th centuries. It grew up out of the gymnastics principles developed in those nations.


This three-day event consists of three disciplines: jumping, dressage and eventing.


Two rivals stand opposite each other and feint, lunge, parry and riposte until one scores the required number of hits to win.

Field Hockey

Hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game. Records exist of it having been played in Persia in 2,000 BC.

Football (Soccer)

In 1900 and 1904, football was introduced as an exhibition sport and became the first team sport included in the Olympic Games.

Gymnastics – Artistic

Gymnastics can be traced back to ancient Greece. A perfect fusion of athletics and aesthetics, gymnastics ranks among the defining, and most popular, sports of the Olympic Games.

Gymnastics – Rythmic

Rhythmic gymnastics is strictly a women’s competition. The gymnasts perform with rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.

Gymnastics – Trampoline

Trampoline gymnastics debuted at the Sydney 2000 Games featuring both men’s and women’s individual events.


Handball is a fast-paced game involving two teams of seven players who pass, throw, catch and dribble a small ball with their hands while trying to score goals.


While throwing opponents to the floor wins most matches, Judo is the only Olympic sport where submission holds allow choking an opponent or breaking an arm.

Modern Pentathlon

Swimming and running are the basic disciplines; shooting requires a precise technique; fencing requires adaptability and riding an unknown horse requires self-control and courage.


Rowing races are divided into sculling and sweep oar, with heavyweight and lightweight divisions.


Sailing first became an Olympic sport in Paris in 1900. Olympic racing is now conducted with boats categorized into one-design classes based on similar weights and measurements.


From just three shooting events at the 1896 Olympic Games to 17 today, the sport has grown steadily. This growth can be attributed to advances in the technology of firearms and equipment.


Fast pitch softball for women was admitted to the Olympics during the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The U.S. won the gold medal in those Games and again in 2000 and 2004.


Olympic swimming has come a long way, to temperature-controlled 50-meter pools, wave-killing gutters, lane markers designed to reduce turbulence, and status as one of the Games’ glamour events.

Synchronized Swimming

Besides demanding strength, endurance, flexibility, grace and artistry, this event requires exceptional breath control.

Table Tennis

At its debut in the 1988 Seoul Games, table tennis began with cigar-box lids for rackets and a carved champagne cork for a ball. Today, players use rubber-coated wooden and carbon-fiber rackets and a lightweight, hollow celluloid ball.


In taekwondo, the hands and feet are used to overcome an opponent, but the trademark of the sport is its combination of kick movements.


During the Olympics, men and women compete in singles and doubles events. Olympic tennis is open to all players, thus many of the greatest professionals in the world compete.


The ultimate endurance test, the triathlon requires athletes to excel at three very different pursuits – swimming, cycling and running.


Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan, a student at Springfield College. The game was originally called “mintonette.”

Water Polo

Tall, long-armed athletes are the prototype for this game, where 85 percent of the body is submerged.


An ancient sport as old as mankind, embodying the direct manifestation of human strength, weightlifting has developed into a modern sporting discipline.


Widely recognized as the world’s oldest competitive sport, wrestling appeared in a series of Egyptian wall paintings as many as 5,000 years ago.

Courtesy of The International Olympic


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