A glimpse at the London Summer Olympics of 2012

London, England is host to next year's 2012 Olympics, but did you know that the venerable city has hosted them twice before? In 1908 and 1948, London welcomed the world to its doorstep by giving athletes round the world a top venue to showcase their physical talents.

Next year is no different, except that instead of only 22 countries, as in 1908, more than 200 countries will be represented in the London Olympics 2012. In addition to the most popular sports, such as gymnastics, boxing, football, and aquatics, you'll have an opportunity to enjoy lighter fare that is no less challenging. Such sports as badminton and table tennis are serious endeavors in many countries, such as China, whose participants have dominated world competition in recent years.

Fencing and equestrian competitions are also quite big in the Olympic games, although television coverage is not quite as widespread as with other wildly popular sports. Equestrian competitions generally include English and Western style riding.

What many people don't realise is that shortly after the regular games end on August 12, the 2012 London Paralympics begin. These games seem to be on an upward trend, and according to the Daily Mail, LOCOG chairman Lord Sebastion Coe predicts a sell-out. The Paralympics begin on August 29, and despite rain fears, Coe seems confident they'll be quite successful.

If you choose to attend the Paralympic games, you'll have an opportunity to see athletes from all over the world compete in such sports as swimming, rowing, sailing, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball.

Venues for the games include the recently completed London Aquatics Centre, which boasts two 50-metre swimming pools and 25-metre diving pool. It is located in Olympic Park at Stratford, East London, and during the games, will have a seating capacity of more than 17,000.

Velo Park, located on the northern portion of Olympic Park, is also a new addition. Here you'll find the Velodrome, the indoor cycling track, and also the BMX Racing Track. The men's BMX track is 470 metres long, while the women's track is 430 metres long. An interesting bit of trivia: the BMX track was constructed from 14,000 cubic metres of soil.

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