Olympic Preview: “Other Sports”

It is not necessarily the best name for an Olympic Sports grouping but there really is nothing else to put these three sports under. These three “Other Sports” have both tradition and some modernity to them as they are grouped together simply because they fit nowhere else. Equestrian, Modern Pentathlon, and Weightlifting represent three events that are uniquely Olympic based. It is not that they do not have world championships throughout the world but these three sports are three that are almost never seen outside of the Olympics. They are much like many other sports in the Olympics that are not seen outside of their showcase every four years. Yet these three sports provide a very unique insight into Olympic sports as they show a host of very unique skills. Equestrian is all about the marriage of man and animal with the control of the horse through multiple obstacles in multiple aspects. The Modern Pentathlon harks back to a very traditional sport yet shows a whole new set of skills. Weightlifting is pure power and drama as sports fans get to look at men and women attempting to lift massive weight above their heads. These three sports show these unique skills and experiences and have become staples of the Summer Olympics. They may not be the most popular sports but all have their following and provide their own stories throughout the Olympics. These sports will be there again to provide drama and storylines for all fans to look at so here is a quick guide on the sports so that you can follow along.

 

Equestrian

 

 

 

 

 

First Year: 1912

Most Medals: Germany, 42 (21 Gold)

 

Equestrian is very much an old school sport in the Olympics and it will find a perfect home in the London Olympics. England has a long storied tradition in Equestrian as it has been a popular sport amongst the upper class in Britain for years. Since the beginnings of the sport it has spread throughout the world with people from every lot in life able to compete. At the Olympics the German team has had the most success gathering 42 total medals including 21 Gold Medals. Equestrian is one of the most unique sports in the Olympics as it is the only sport that deals purely with animals and the only sport where men and women compete with and against each other. Equestrian is divided into a number of different disciplines including Dressage, Show Jumping, and Eventing. Each discipline is divided into a team and an individual competition with 6 Gold Medals up for grabs. The Dressage discipline is the ultimate test of the connection of horse and rider. The competition features the horse completing a number of controlled movements in front of 5 judges who score the entire routine based on control and calmness in the horse. Show Jumping is the discipline that showcases the athleticism of the horses. This discipline requires the horses to jump over fences of varying heights in a timed round as they look to get around a course of 15 fences in the quickest time with time penalties added if a fence is hit or a bar is knocked off of the fence. The Eventing discipline is a showcase of all disciplines put together including a Cross Country portion that tests the stamina of the horse and rider. Eventing consists of a four rounds over three days including one dressage round, one cross-country round that features a course of 45 jumps, and two show jumping rounds with scores for all four rounds added up at the end. Equestrian is one of the more unique sports out there and this year with Britain looking on it will be interesting to see who can come out on top and what the major storyline will be as the marriage of horse and rider is tested for Olympic Gold.

 

Who to Watch:

William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain)

– One of the favorites for the Brits to win a medal, Pitt has been at the top of the Eventing world for years and recently has strung together a number first place finishes at events including the 2012 Rolex Three-Day, 2011 Burghley Horse Trials, and the 2011 Stars of Pau and was a member of the Silver Medal Mixed Equestrian Team in the 2004 Olympics

 

Edward Gal (Netherlands)

– One of the premiere Dressage riders in the world Gal and his mount “Toto” have been at the top of the world standings as they swept the 2010 World Dressage Championship the biggest question for Gal will be if a new horse means new results as he will enter the Olympics without “Toto” to help him along the way

 

Canadian Content:

Eric Lamaze (Montreal, QC)

– He became the first Canadian to ever win a Gold Medal in Equestrian when he took the gold Medal in Beijing at the Show Jumping event with his mount Hickstead but sadly his mount passed away during a competition in 2011 as Lamaze will go into the Olympics with a new mount and try to defend his title with a heavy heart

 

Ian Millar (Halifax, NS)

– Another Canadian Show Jumper Millar has competed in more Olympics than any other Canadian athlete and has a silver medal from the team mixed show jumping competition in 2008 as he looks to be near the end of his career and would like nothing more than a medal in London

 

Modern Pentathlon:

 

 

 

 

 

First Year: 1912 (100th Year in the Games)

Most Medals: [Tie] Hungary/Sweden, 21 (9 Gold)

 

The Modern Pentathlon is a sport that showcases an all-around athlete who can compete and win in 5 different sports. It was created by Baron Pierre de Coubertin as an alternate to the Ancient Pentathlon. The reason he created this new event was to move away from the Ancient Pentathlon that highlighted the skills of an ancient Greek soldier. The Modern Pentathlon would instead highlight the skills needed to be a cavalry soldier. Since 1912 the Modern Pentathlon has remained a collection of skills that a cavalry soldier although it is now also a test of athletes who are well-rounded in a number of very different skills. The Modern Pentathlon features five disciplines including shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping, and long distance running. These athletes will go through all five events through one day that culminates in the long distance race that determines the winner. The competition begins with a fencing tournament where each athlete faces each other in single elimination bouts. After the fencing the athletes move to the aquatics centre where they compete in a single 200 metre freestyle race. Then the athletes move on to compete in a Show Jumping event where they move through a 12-jump course. After these three events are complete the points for their performance are added up and converted into a time handicap. This handicap determines the starting times for each athlete in the next event. The final discipline is a long distance race along with a shooting range challenge. The athlete with the most points after the first three events starts first and the rest of the athletes are staggered based on a time handicap, one second for every four points. The athletes run 1,000 metres to a shooting range where they shoot pistols at five targets in a 70 second time limit. After their first shooting the athletes do another 1,000 metre run and another shooting range and then do it again. After the last shooting range the athletes run another 1,000 metres to the finish line where the first to cross the finish line wins the gold. In all the Modern Pentathlon tests athletes in a number of disciplines and showcases some of the most well-rounded athletes in the Olympics. The big question for this event will be if the dominance of the European countries continues or will a new power emerge in London?

 

Who to Watch:

Lena Schoneborn (Germany)

– Schoneborn represents the traditional European powers in the women’s modern pentathlon as she is the defending Olympic champion after winning Gold in Beijing in 2008 as she looks to continue her Olympic success this year in London

 

Andrei Moiseev (Russia)

– For the men Andrei Moiseev is the pinnacle of the Modern Pentathlon even as he has only appeared in the Olympics twice he still won Gold both years, 2004 and 2008, and won the 2011 world championships as the men will be chasing him in London

 

Canadian Content:

Joshua Riker-Fox (Calgary, AB)

– One of Canada’s brightest stars in the Modern Pentathlon Fox became the top performing athlete in the event during the Beijing Olympics where he finished 24th but he will be looking for a better result after finishing in 3rd at the 2011 Pan-Am Games

 

Weightlifting:

 

 

 

 

First Year: 1896 (Consistently in Olympics since 1920)

Most Medals: Soviet Union, 62 (39 Gold)

 

Weightlifting is one of those pure sports in the Olympics that has last for decades and is simply a test of strength. There is nothing fancy to the weightlifting events in the Olympics as it asks simply if you can lift more than your opponent. Weightlifting also provides some of the biggest drama in the Olympics as athletes struggle to lift massive weight. There is little more exciting than when an athlete looks to get the weight above their head but struggles to do so and in the end gets it there. There have been the odd injury in the Olympics that has shown the danger of the sport and that danger makes this a thrilling ride. These athletes will be divided into 8 weight classes for men including Super Heavyweight (+105 kg), Heavyweight (105 kg), Middle Heavyweight (94 kg), Light Heavyweight (85 kg), Middleweight (77 kg), Lightweight (69 kg), Featherweight (62 kg), and the Bantamweight (-56 kg). The Women, who have had Olympic weightlifting since 2000, are divided into 7 weight classes including Heavyweight (+75 kg), Middleweight Heavyweight (75 kg), Light Heavyweight (69 kg), Middleweight (63 kg), Lightweight (58 kg), Featherweight (53 kg), and Bantamweight (48 kg). In all weight classes the competition involves two disciplines that every athlete must complete to hope for a medal. First is the snatch where the athlete takes the barbell and in one motion lifts it above his/her head. The next lift is the Clean and Jerk where the athlete first lifts the barbell to their chest and then lifts it above their head. Each lift is only completed when a judge determines that the barbell is under complete control after the athlete has the barbell above their head with locked arms and legs. Each athlete names the weight they want to lift before they lift and they have three attempts to complete that weight. Athletes are eliminated when they cannot complete a lift in their three attempts with the last man or woman standing winning the gold medal. This summer weightlifting will once again be a showcase of raw power but who will win the gold and be labeled the strongest man and woman at the Olympics?

 

Who to Watch:

Matthias Steiner (Germany)

– Steiner represents the superstars of the weightlifting competition in the Super heavyweights who lift bars that seem like they are going to break and as the defending Gold medalist in the weight class he will be watched closely to see if he can repeat

 

Team China

– Last year the Chinese had an amazing performance in almost every sport they competed in and that including weightlifting where the home favorites were on the podium in almost every light weight class but can they repeat this performance in London

 

Canadian Content:

Christine Girard (Rouyn-Noranda, QC)

– In the 2008 Beijing Olympics Girard made her Olympic debut and finished in fourth place making a good impact on the sport and along with her trainer, who lives across the country and who she communicates with on Skype, look to improve on her debut and make the podium

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