It’s Almost Games Time
London, England, prepares to host the Summer Olympics
The passing of the Olympic torch is a tradition that officially begins the Games. (Rex Features via AP Images)
Next week begins the biggest sporting event in the world—the Summer Olympic Games. Every four years, a different city hosts the Olympics. This year’s host is London, England. More than 2,000 athletes from nearly every country in the world will see if they have the golden touch in 26 sports, from archery and swimming to wrestling.
London is packed with spectators excited to watch the Games. Some are there just for next week’s Olympic Opening Ceremony, a big celebration in which all the athletes chosen to compete this summer will march through the main stadium. Musicians, dancers, and other artists from the United Kingdom will also perform.
On July 27, the Olympic flame, which has been carried by torchbearers from Greece, will be brought to the main stadium in London. The passing of the Olympic torch is a tradition that officially begins the Games.
The Olympics date all the way back to ancient Greece. The earliest recorded Olympic competition occurred about 2,800 years ago.
In the beginning, the Olympics had only one event, a short footrace. Winners were awarded crowns of olive leaves rather than medals. Over the years, new sports were added, including wrestling, boxing, chariot racing, and a race in which athletes ran wearing full armor.
The Olympic Games began to decline after the Romans conquered Greece. In the year 394, the Roman emperor ordered the games to be stopped. In 1896, the Olympics returned, with the first modern games being held in Athens, Greece.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
What are some of the biggest events to watch this year? Women’s boxing, banned in many countries until recently, will make its debut as an official Olympic sport. Marlen Esparza, Quanitta “Queen” Underwood, and Claressa Shields are the Americans hoping to punch their way to gold.
South African runner Oscar Pistorius will become the first amputee to compete in the Olympics. Pistorius had to have his legs removed below the knee when he was a baby. Nicknamed “Blade Runner,” this Olympic competitor speeds fast on high-tech prostheses, or artificial limbs, below his knees.
U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps is also sure to be a focus of attention. He made history four years ago by winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Hard on his heels will be teammate Ryan Lochte. who bested Phelps in last summer’s world championships.
But being in the Olympic Games isn’t just about winning medals—it’s also about doing your best. “At the end of the day, all the training that I’ve done has prepared me to be here,” Lochte says. He won three gold medals in 2008 and hopes to win even more this summer. “I always remember that as long as I believe in myself and really give 100 percent,” he says, “nothing can stop me.”