Please see the Medal Count and Competition Results by Date pages for results updated daily.

The sporting events expected at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad consist of 41 disciplines in 28 recognized sports.



Synchronized Swimming
Synchronized Swimming

Water Polo
Water Polo

The founding of the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) in 1908 was a pragmatic response to an increase in international sporting events, crowned by the Olympic Games. At the first modern Olympics in 1896, three swimming contests were held. However, no universally accepted rules, regulations or definitions governed the swimming events.
The Olympic Games competitions prior to FINA had included a variety of unusual events such as underwater swimming (1900), 200m obstacle swimming (1900) and plunge for distance (1904). Prior to the London Olympics, where a 100m pool was used, the ocean (1896), the River Seine (1900), and a little lake in St. Louis, USA (1904), had been used as Olympic sites.
In order to unify the rules and create a forum for international meetings, the leaders of the eight attending countries (Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary and Sweden) met on 19 July 1908 at the Manchester Hotel, London, on the occasion of the Games of the IV Olympiad, and resolved to form a world-wide swimming association.
Priority decisions or goals were clear: to standardize the rules for swimming, diving and water polo; to obtain control of world records and to maintain an up-to-date list of these records; and finally, to ensure the direction of Olympic Games competitions for swimming, diving and water polo.
Outstanding accomplishments in the last 40 years have included the introduction of the World Championships (1973), the first World Cups (1979), the Olympic debut of synchronized swimming (1984), the Short Course World Swimming Championships (1993), the Diving Grand Prix (1994), advances in the use of technology, specifically of electronic timing equipment; and the rapid development of the swimming program to include new events such as Masters and Open Water Swimming.

Aquatics :: Diving

Almost a century ago, "fancy diving" entered the Olympic Games as a new event. It was simply diving, as we know it today, and indeed, the 1996 program did not change a blink from the 1924 program. Now here comes some truly fancy diving: synchronized diving, or diving in pairs, which was introduced in the Sydney 2000 Games, doubling the program in more than one way. The traditional men's and women's 10-metre platform and three-meter springboard diving events were repeated for the synchronized portion, with judges assessing both individual dives and synchronization.
Diving developed in Europe in the 17th century, when gymnasts practiced their acrobatics over water. Combining artistry and athleticism with undeniable courage - platform divers hit the water at about 55km/h - diving ranks among the Olympic Games' most exhilarating events. In 1988, Greg Louganis of the United States, arguably the greatest Olympic diver in history, cracked his head on the springboard while attempting a reverse 2.5 pike. After receiving stitches, Louganis won gold in both men's events.

Aquatics :: Swimming

"My will to live completely overcame my desire to win."
That was the reaction of 19-year-old Hungarian Alfred Hajos after he won the 1200 meters freestyle at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. He won by being the first swimmer to reach shore after a boat had left everyone in the icy waters of the Mediterranean.
Olympic swimming has come a long way, to temperature-controlled 50-metre pools, wave-killing gutters, lane markers designed to reduce turbulence, and status as one of the Games' glamour events. It is far removed from those early days.
There were the venues, from the Bay of Zea in 1896, to Paris's River Seine in 1900, to a 100-metre pool constructed inside the athletics track in 1908. Then there were the events, from a 100-metre race for Greek sailors in 1896, to underwater and obstacle races in 1900, to a "plunge for distance" in 1908. That event involved a standing dive, with contestants then remaining motionless for 60 seconds, or until their heads broke the surface - whichever came first.

Aquatics :: Synchronized Swimming

It looks like perhaps the most effortless event in the Olympic Games, but there is more to synchronized swimming than what appears on the surface. Besides demanding strength, endurance, flexibility, grace and artistry, it requires exceptional breath control.
Unusual, but vital, equipment helps the women maintain the illusion of effortlessness, no simple task considering they perform strenuous movements upside down and underwater while holding their breath. A nose clip prevents water from entering the nose, allowing the swimmers to remain underwater for long periods. Gelatine keeps the hair in place. Make-up brings out the features.
Most importantly, an underwater speaker lets the swimmers hear the music clearly while underwater, helping them achieve the split-second timing critical to synchronized swimming.
Originally known as water ballet, synchronized swimming began in Canada in the 1920s. It spread to the United States in the early '30s, where a display at the 1934 Chicago World's Fair drew rave reviews. Its popularity soared further when Esther Williams performed in a string of MGM "aqua musicals" in the 1940s and '50s.

Aquatics :: Water Polo

Women's water polo was one of the new events at the Sydney 2000 Games, adding another dimension to a game long ranked among the most demanding. Prohibited from touching the bottom or side of the pool through four seven-minute quarters, water polo players swim up to five kilometres in a game. They require the technique and endurance of a champion swimmer, plus a football player's finesse in passing, dribbling and shooting for goal and a rugby player's strength to battle for the ball.
In fact, water polo began as an aquatic version of rugby in the mid-1800s in England, before evolving into a waterborne semblance of football (soccer). By the turn of the century, it had become so popular in Europe and North America that it was included in the program for the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.
Tall, long-armed athletes are the prototype for the game, where 85% of the body is submerged. About the same underwater percentage holds true for the grabbing, holding, kicking, wrestling and yanking of swimsuits that makes the game even tougher.


Anyone familiar with the legend of Robin Hood knows archery competitions date back at least to mediaeval times. Indeed, today's archers still honor the fabled outlaw. The term "Robin Hood" now refers to splitting the shaft of an arrow already in the target with another arrow.
The equipment has crept forward in its technology since Robin and his merry men had the run of Sherwood Forest, but the sport of archery remains essentially unchanged. A recurve bow coated in fiberglass has become standard, and arrows made of aluminum and carbon graphite can travel more than 240km/h, but the most important requirements are straightforward: steady hands, strong shoulders, flexible muscles, sharp eyes and nerves of steel.
Archery was a feature of the Olympic Games several times from 1900 to 1920, but then disappeared for more than 50 years. It reappeared at Munich in 1972 and has remained a fixture ever since.


Athletics is, in many ways, the embodiment of the Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius", meaning faster, higher, stronger.
Athletics (or track and field) is about running faster, jumping higher and throwing further than your competitors. The ancient Games at Olympia began simply with foot races, only occasionally complicated by dressing the runners in infantry armor or making them carry soldiers' shields. Today, athletics remains one of the most popular Olympic sports. From the 100m dash to the 42.195km marathon, from the hammer throw to the high jump, it contains many of the Olympic Games' blue-ribbon events and many of the highest-profile competitors.


Made-for-television radar guns instantly flash the speed of serves, volleys and pitches to the sporting public around the world these days, but few viewers could name the world's fastest racket sport. The title belongs to badminton.
The flight of the shuttlecock, a missile of cork and goose feather that players volley across the net, has been recorded at speeds of 260 kilometres per hour. Speed, agility and lightning-fast reflexes are essential to the game. Add stamina, too - players have been known to cover more than six kilometres in a single match.
While contemporary badminton first appeared in the mid-19th century, it evolved from the game battledore and shuttlecock, which can be traced back to ancient Greece, China, Japan and India.
Especially popular in Asia and Europe today, badminton became a full competition sport at the Olympic Games in 1992.


Baseball's stature in the history of the United States is perhaps reflected more clearly in a simple dictionary rather than in the seven-centimeter-thick baseball encyclopedia.
There, you can find the word Ruthian, meaning "of mammoth proportions", as in a home run by Babe Ruth back in the 1920s. There, you can find Lou Gehrig's disease, as the incurable degenerative illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been better known since Lou Gehrig, Ruth's team-mate, died from it in the 1940s. In the United States, baseball and the English language are interwoven.
However, just as the game did not begin as a wholly US enterprise, it did not end the 20th century as one either. Baseball's all-time home-run champion is a man named Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 during a legendary career in baseball-mad Japan. The national team of Cuba overpowered the Baltimore Orioles of the US major leagues 12-6 in a 1999 exhibition game.
American baseball became a full medal sport in Barcelona in 1992.


For 36 years after basketball entered the Olympic Games as a full medal sport for men, the question was not who would win, but who would finish second. The United States owned the game, and not just because it was invented there.
The Soviet Union took home the gold when they toppled the US team in a controversial 1972 game. After another semi-final victory for the Soviets in 1988, the sport opened to professionals. Once again, the question became who would finish second. In Barcelona in 1992, with a squad featuring some of the world's best-known athletes - Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird - the gold-medal winning US "Dream Team" gave an exhibition of basketball at its best. After an NBA All-Star packed team finished only sixth during the recent FIBA World Championship in 2002, the question will remain if the winning streak of US teams can prevail in future Olympic Games.
Women's basketball hasn't been quite such a one-sided affair. Since it joined the Olympic program in 1976, the gold medals have been divided between the US, the Soviet Union and, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States. After a bronze medal in Atlanta and a Silver medal in Sydney, Australia may have their quest for the podium as well as the traditional powerhouse Brazil.


Boxing ranks among the Olympic Games' most illustrious sports.
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 or the other went down or conceded. The Romans followed with a gladiator dimension. They used gloves studded with spikes or weighted with lead, and fights often ended in death, like other entertainment of the day.
When the modern Games resumed in 1896, the Athens organizing committee omitted boxing, deciding it was too dangerous. The sport reappeared in 1904 in St. Louis, thanks to its popularity in the United States, then disappeared again in 1912 at Stockholm because Sweden's national law banned it.
Only in 1920 did boxing return to the Olympic Games to stay. Hence, Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay at the time) and Teofilo Stevenson (a three-time gold medallist) could join names like Theagenes of Thassos and Cleitomachus of Thebes among the legends.

Canoe/ Kayak


The history of the canoe and kayak has been traced back thousands of years to when natives used these craft to hunt, fish and travel. Canoes were used mainly by the native North and South American Indians along with the Polynesian islanders of the Pacific. They were propelled through the water by single-bladed paddles usually made from wood. The earliest known archaeological evidence of a canoe was unearthed at the tomb of a Sumerian king near the Euphrates River. This relic is estimated to be around 6000 years old. The counterpart of the American Indian canoe is the kayak which was introduced by Eskimos many years ago. These people inhabited the land to the far north of the American continent and Greenland.

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. Europe remains the traditional power base, led by Germany, Sweden and the athletes of the former Soviet Union.
Races are held on flat water, with competitors assigned to lanes. Women compete only in kayaks, the closed boats paddled from a sitting position with a double-blade paddle. Men race in kayaks and canoes, the open boats paddled from a kneeling position with a single-blade paddle. Women race in the 500-metre K1, K2 and K4 (denoting one, two or four paddlers in a kayak). Men compete in the 500m and 1000m K1 and K2, 1000m K4 and 500m and 1000m C1 and C2 (canoe).

Canoe/ Kayak :: Slalom

The sport reached the Olympic Games in 1924. Almost half a century later, in Munich in 1972, canoe/kayak branched out into the dramatic whitewater version, the slalom.
The slalom events, involving men's K1, C1 and C2 and women's K1 (denoting one or two paddlers in a canoe or kayak), require the paddlers to negotiate 20 to 25 gates in turbulent water over a 300-metre course. Competitors aim to complete the course in the shortest time, factoring in penalties.




Mountain Bike
Mountain Bike

Bicycles were first developed in 1817and have long since been used as a form of transport. Originally, the front wheel was much larger than the rear wheel, and the rider was elevated a great deal, making them difficult to control and very dangerous. In 1885, J.K. Starley of England devised the more modern bike with a chain and gearing to allow the wheels to be of equal size. Although bicycle races had been held on the old "penny farthings", the new bikes stimulated the growth of bicycle racing as a sport.

Cycling :: BMX

Bicycle moto- cross (BMX) started in the late 1960s in California, around the time that motocross became a popular sport in the USA. The motorized version of the sport was the inspiration for the human-powered competition. Children and teenagers with the desire but not the means to participate in motocross sated their appetite by racing bicycles on self-built tracks. These young adventurers completed the imitation by dressing themselves up in motocross gear. BMX racing offered exciting action at a low cost, close to home. It is easy to see why the sport was an instant hit. In California the sport was more popular than anywhere else. During the early 1970s a sanctioning body for BMX was founded in the USA. This is considered as the official start of BMX racing. As that decade progressed, the sport was introduced on other continents too, among them Europe in 1978. In April 1981, the International BMX Federation was founded, and the first world championships were held in 1982. BMX rapidly developed as a unique sporting entity, and after several years clearly had more in common with cycling than motorcycling codes. Thus, since January 1993 BMX has been fully integrated into the International Cycling Union (UCI).
On 29 June 2003, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to include BMX in the Summer Games and will debut at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Cycling :: Road

Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick McMillan gave bicycle racing its first big boost back in 1839 when he devised a pedal-and-crank mechanism to power the two-wheeled machines. Until then, bicycles were pushed along by the feet. It rather limited their racing potential.
In the 1880s, cycling took another leap forward with the development of the chain-and-gearing system. With that, bikes evolved from the awkward penny-farthing style to the sleeker shape so familiar today. Since then, the sport's evolution has been a steady climb as athletes and engineers experiment with anything that might shave a few seconds off their times.
The sport's boom in the late 19th century made it a natural for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. That inaugural Olympic road race was held on the marathon course, with riders completing two laps covering a total of 87 kilometres. Almost a century passed before women got their chance to race in 1984, and, 12 years later, at the 1996 Atlanta Games, time trials were introduced.

Cycling :: Track

Road racing and mountain biking relate easily to the average rider's view of cycling. Track cycling does not.
In track cycling, the riders go nowhere, just around and around an oval track banked at 42 degrees. The track's name - the velodrome - sounds space-age, and the helmets, suits and bikes bearing no resemblance to a common two-wheeler more closely resemble something out of Star Wars.
Those idiosyncrasies grew out of years of refinement, though. All were aimed at helping man push bicycles faster and faster.
The aerodynamic "funny bikes" of today offer greater speed than ever, despite their poorer maneuverability that leaves them ill-suited to pack racing.
The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, in particular, fielded a wave of futuristic machines, including the debut of the spoke less, carbon-fiber disc wheel.
Another revolution occurred in the 1992 Barcelona Games, where Great Britain's Chris Boardman won his country's first cycling gold medal since 1920. Boardman broke world records and lapped the world champion in the final with a bike fully utilizing carbon-fiber technology and aerodynamic cross-sections, weighing less than nine kilograms.
Track cycling evolved again during the Sydney 2000 Games, with a new range of races. Women competed in a 500-metre time trial, and men added the Keirin, Madison and Olympic sprint races.

Cycling :: Mountain Bike

First came the road race. It became the rage of the late 1800s, after the invention of the bicycle and before the invention of the car. Then came track racing. It was part of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, even though it looks space-age in its truly modern form. Then came mountain biking.
Mountain biking debuted in the Games in 1996 at Atlanta. The sport was about 40 years old then, if you date it back to the university student who first stripped down his bicycle, converted it and headed for the hills in 1953. The sport was just 20 years old, though, if you date it back to the first organized competition outside San Francisco.
The members of the Velo Club Mount Tamalpais generally receive the credit for establishing mountain biking as a sport. They invented the Repack Downhill race, held regularly between 1976 and 1979 just across the famed Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The races attracted riders from near and far, and the media soon followed.
It was a cool sport, a fringe sport. By 1990, it had turned into a truly professional sport, complete with World Championships. Now, it came back at the Atlanta 1996 Games.




Equestrian events were included in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1900 and then in 1912, in a format very similar to that which will was used at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
In the past, the three-day event (Eventing) was restricted to military officers, while the jumping and dressage competitions were open to civilians, but only a handful of civilian riders competed up to 1948. Up to that time, the growth of modern sport had been rapid, but relatively few competitors were involved in international competitions. They all knew each other and the judges and were accepting of local variations to the fairly simple rules which existed. With the inclusion of the sport in the Olympic Games, it became obvious that some internationally recognized rules for the three Olympic disciplines were essential. In May 1921, delegates from 10 national equestrian organizations met in Lausanne to discuss the formation of an international federation.
Equestrian is the only Olympic sport where man and animal are established team-mates, and one of the few where men and women compete on equal terms.
It is the ultimate in team sports, a horse and rider working together for years to hone feats of grace, daring, agility and speed.
Chariot races and horse riding appeared in Greece's ancient Games, but most of the equestrian program as we know it began in the Olympic Games of 1912. It includes three disciplines - dressage, jumping and three-day event - each with individual and team competition.
Equestrian consists of three disciplines: Jumping, Dressage and Eventing (Three-Day Event).

Equestrian :: Dressage

Often described as horses performing ballet, dressage has changed little since the Renaissance. The term stems from a French word for training, and European cavalrymen developed the idea for use on the battlefield and the parade ground. The horse performs set movements, or tests, in response to its rider's subtle aids and signals. The event is conducted over three rounds. In the first two, horse and rider perform a set routine of dressage movements, including passages, pirouettes and piaffes in a walk, trot and canter. The third round is freestyle, with routines individually choreographed and performed to music.
The scoring is done by judges who evaluate how well the horse executes the moves. During the Olympics four days are devoted to dressage.

Equestrian :: Eventing

Eventing combines the above two disciplines, and adds a third competition of riding a cross-country course on horseback. Scoring is by a series of tables evaluating each day's performance.

Equestrian :: Jumping

Both exciting and easy to follow, show jumping is a very popular discipline. Originating from Ireland, with its passion for fox hunting, jumping requires horse and rider to complete a course of about 15 obstacles, including triple bars, parallel rails, water jumps and simulated stone walls. Penalties are incurred if jumps are taken in the wrong order, if a horse refuses a jump or knocks down a rail, and if time limits are exceeded.


Take the romantic, swashbuckling epics of Errol Flynn, add some rules, protective clothing and an electronic scoring system, and you have fencing at the Olympic Games. Two rivals stand opposite each other and feint, lunge, parry and riposte until one scores the required number of hits to win.
Evolved from the ancient form of combat, fencing is one of only four sports that has been featured at every modern Olympic Games. It was the first to include recognized professionals in a medals competition after modern Olympic Games founder Pierre de Coubertin arranged special events for professional fencing "masters" in the original 1896 and 1900 competitions.
The clothing has become so protective, though, that officials modified masks a few years ago to return a "human face" to the event. Fine, but for intense reality, the 1924 team foil competition still wins: After the Olympic Games, an Italian and a Hungarian settled a scoring controversy with a real duel.


While the modern game of football started with the foundation of the Football Association of England in 1863, its roots extend to opposite ends of the earth. The ancient Chinese, Greeks and Romans played a similar game, long before English kings in the 1300s and 1400s were trying to outlaw the violent sport.
While professionals are allowed in the men’s tournament, rules restrict teams to players under 23 years old with the exception of three over-age players. ’No age restrictions apply for the women’s tournament. For the Beijing 2008 Games the number of women’s teams has been increased to 12. The men’s tournament is set at 16 teams.




The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) was formed on 23 July 1881 when representatives of the gymnastics associations of Belgium, France and the Netherlands met in Liège. As a governing body it is held in high esteem by both its member federations and gymnastics clubs throughout five continents. In 1897, seventeen national associations joined together to form the basis of the European Gymnastics Federation. However, when the USA was admitted in 1921, the Committee changed its name to the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique or FIG, as it is known today.
FIG comprises three Olympic disciplines: artistic, rhythmic and trampoline.
Each discipline is controlled by a Technical Committee made up of a Technical President and six members. The Technical Committees are responsible for the coordination and control of their specific discipline in terms of the technical requirements for competition as they relate to each specific discipline.

Gymnastics :: Artistic

Mixing strength and agility with style and grace, the high-flying acrobats have provided many of the most breathtaking Olympic spectacles of the past quarter-century.
Nadia Comeneci's perfect 10 score at the 1976 Montreal Games, the first ever awarded, remains the high-water mark for most gymnastics fans. The 14-year-old Romanian achieved the seemingly impossible seven times in Montreal, a feat so unexpected that the scoring technology was set up for only three digits. Her 10.00s were displayed as 1.00.
Gymnastics has a long, proud history. The sport can be traced back to ancient Greece, where such skills featured in the ancient Olympic Games. Ancient Rome, Persia, India and China practiced similar disciplines, mostly aimed at preparing young men for battle. The word itself derives from the Greek word gymnos, meaning naked - dress requirements for athletes in those days were minimal, to say the least.

Gymnastics :: Rhythmic

When rhythmic gymnastics first caught the attention of the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) in the middle of the 20th century, its devotees were calling it "modern gymnastics". Yet its hazy history can clearly be traced to at least the last century.

Gymnastics :: Trampoline

As of 1 January 1999, trampoline became a discipline of gymnastics at the Olympic Games.
Trampoline gymnastics debuted at the Sydney 2000 Games featuring both men's and women's individual events. The Russian Federation took home two gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as Alexander Moskalenko and Irina Karavaeva were crowned with gold medals.
Trampoline competitions are open to both men and women.


The modern game of handball was first played towards the end of the 19th century in Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Recognition of field handball based on the games of "Raffball" (snatch ball) and "Königsbergerball" (Konrad Koch, 1846-1911) occurred at the turn of the century. G. Wallström introduced Sweden to the sport of "handball" in 1910.
After the men's game debuted on turf football fields at the 1936 Games in Berlin, the European-based sport next appeared in its present indoor form in 1972 at Munich. A women's division opened in 1976 and it has become one of the most highly attended Olympic sports.


Hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game. Records exist of it having been played in Persia in 2000 BC. The name hockey probably derives from the French hocquet, or shepherd’s crook, and refers to the crooked stick which is used to hit a small ball. The game became more organized late in the 19th century and became an Olympic sport in 1908. Until the 1970s, the game at international level was mainly played on natural grass, but has become an even more exciting and Skilful India dominated the sport for three decades, winning all six Olympic gold medals and 30 consecutive games from 1928 to 1956. The first Balbir Singh, who was followed by four more players of the same name who also played for victorious Indian teams, scored five goals in a 6-1 gold-medal victory over the Netherlands in Helsinki in 1952.


Judo means "the gentle way" in Japanese. Of course, it is derived in part from jujitsu, the hand-to-hand combat technique of ancient samurai warriors, and everything is relative. While throwing opponents to the floor wins most matches, it is the only Olympic sport where submission holds allow choking an opponent or breaking an arm.
Developed by Dr Jigoro Kano in the 1880s, the sport broke into the Olympic Games in 1964 at Tokyo. The host country could add one sport, and Japan chose judo. Four weight classes were established, and Japanese entries promptly won three.
However, in the fourth, the open class, a 1.98-metre Dutchman named Anton Geesink defeated three-time Japanese national champion Kaminaga Akio before 15,000 people at Nippon Budokan Hall. And then he beat him again. It followed victories earlier in the year over other top Japanese opponents, deeply bruising the theory that a skilled judoka could defeat any opponent of any size.

Modern Pentathlon

A young French cavalry officer of the 19th century was sent on horseback to deliver a message. He rode across the uneven terrain, through enemy lines, and was confronted by a soldier with his sword drawn. Challenged to a duel, the officer won, only to have his horse shot out from under him by another enemy soldier.
After felling that soldier with a single shot, the officer ran on. He swam across a raging river, and then finally he delivered the message. So, legend has it, was born the modern pentathlon.
The brainchild of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, the event was based upon the unlucky officer and introduced into the Stockholm Games of 1912. Only remotely resembling the ancient pentathlon inspired by the warmongering Spartans, modern pentathletes shoot, fence, swim, compete in show jumping and run - five events testing endurance as well as athletic versatility.


Tactically, it sounds as ludicrous as sprinting the first five kilometres of a marathon. To win a 2000-metre rowing race, the crew must sprint for the first 500 meters.
Such are the demands in the sport of the Athlete of the Century and the Oarsome Foursome.
Rowing is an endurance test that finishes at a speed of up to 10 meters a second. Crews cover the middle 1000 meters at about 40 strokes per minute, but, over the first and last 500 meters, shift up a gear to as many as 47.
The modern master is Steve Redgrave of Great Britain, widely hailed as the greatest rower ever. A six-time World Champion, he won gold medals at the last five Olympic Games and has been loosely crowned Athlete of the Century.


Sailing first became an Olympic sport in Paris in 1900, where time handicaps were used to adjudicate the race. The race format and the classes of competing boats have changed frequently since then. Olympic racing is now conducted with boats categorized into one-design classes based on similar weights and measurements.


Olympic history abounds with tales of athletes who overcame crippling adversity to win gold medals, but Karoly Takacs' comeback may be the best. Takacs was part of Hungary's world-champion pistol-shooting team in 1938 when an army grenade exploded in his right hand. Ten years later, he won the first two golds in rapid-fire pistol - after teaching himself to shoot left-handed.
In a sport where the bullseye looks about the size of the full stop at the end of this sentence, a sport where shooters compete amid a cacophony of noise and still concentrate on firing between heartbeats, Takacs' achievement tests the imagination.
From just three shooting events at the 1896 Olympic Games to 17 today, the sport has grown steadily. In part this leap can be ascribed to advances in the technology of firearms and equipment, which have led to constant changes in the shooting competition. But it can also be ascribed to the passion shooters have for their sport.


There is little soft about Olympic softball. One pitch at Atlanta was clocked at 118 kilometres per hour (73.3 mph). Considering the pitcher stands 13.1 metres (43 feet) from the batter, and the hardest-throwing baseball pitchers throw 160 kilometres per hour (99.4 mph) from 18.4 metres (60 feet), softball batters have essentially the same time to react as their baseball counterparts.
In addition, a softball is as hard as a baseball. The only difference being the size; a softball is 30.4cm (12 inches) in circumference and a baseball is 22.8cm (9 inches).

Table Tennis

Gossima. Whiff-Whaff. Flim-Flam. Ping-Pong.
Whatever name it assumes, table tennis has come a long way since its introduction as a genteel, after-dinner alternative to lawn tennis in 1890s England. Today, players compete for big money, wield high-tech rackets and volley the ball at speeds up to 160 kilometres per hour. Table tennis has become the world's largest participation sport, with 40 million competitive players worldwide and countless millions playing recreationally.
The game, which debuted in the Olympic Games in 1988 at Seoul, began with cigar-box lids for rackets and a carved champagne cork for a ball. Today, players use specially developed rubber-coated wooden and carbon-fiber rackets and a lightweight, hollow celluloid ball. Various rubber compounds and glues are applied on the rackets to impart greater spin or speed.
Indeed, some glues are banned from Olympic competition - they make the ball travel up to 30km/h faster.


Various Korean forms of martial arts have existed but in the early 20th century, Taekwondo became the dominant form. In 1955 a group of Korean martial arts leaders chose Taekwondo as the definitive Korean martial art in an attempt to promote its development internationally.
In 1973, the Korean government recognized the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) as the legitimate governing body of the sport, and the first World Championships were held in that year.


When Irishman John Boland traveled to Athens for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, he had no idea he would return home with the gold medal in tennis. But then, he had no idea he would compete either - he went as a spectator.
Times have changed dramatically for Olympic tennis since then. Today's Olympic tennis players include some of the highest-profile athletes in the world. Accustomed to five-star hotels and high-stakes prize money, at the Olympic Games they will bunk in the Olympic Village and compete for nothing but a gold medal.
Tennis was dropped from the Olympic program after 1924 amid turmoil over such issues as where to draw the line between amateurism and professionalism, and it didn't return as a medal sport until 1988. Today, Olympic competition includes men's and women's singles and men's and women's doubles.


While Taekwondo and triathlon both debuted as the newest Olympic sports at the Sydney 2000 Games, triathlon was literally the newest sport. Although the origins of Taekwondo date back thousands of years, the triathlon dates back to 1978.
The first triathlon was held in the south-western United States city of San Diego in 1974, in many ways an outgrowth of the California jogging craze. The ultimate endurance test, it requires athletes to excel at three very different pursuits - swimming, cycling and running. The sport demands particularly intense discipline because each area requires a high-level training schedule.

Beach Volleyball
Beach Volleyball


Volleyball, like basketball, is a sport whose origin is known almost to the day. Oddly enough, both sports were invented at the same college and within a few years of one another. Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan, a student at Springfield College and a director of the YMCA at Holyoke, Massachusetts. The game was originally called "Mintonette".
Volleyball quickly spread around the world and became more popular in other countries than in the United States. The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) was formed in 1946. The sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1964 by the Japanese, although it was never contested as a demonstration sport at the Olympics. No country has been truly dominant in volleyball, although the Soviet Union has won the most medals. Originally the Japanese had the world's best women players while the United States had the best men's team in the world throughout the 1980s.
Volleyball has now reached great heights of popularity in the United States and Brazil, largely thanks to the discipline of beach volleyball.
The beach volleyball phenomenon, although hugely visible, is still just in its infancy. From the first FIVB World Tour event just over ten years ago, to the overwhelming spectator and television success of 'Beach' at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, beach volleyball has opened up Volleyball to a completely new market.

Volleyball :: Beach Volleyball

Because of the many difficulties of playing outdoors, such as the sand, the sun and the wind, beach volleyball players must have outstanding ball skills and court speed. Partners must be well matched or opponents will win easy points by exploiting the weaker player.
In beach volleyball, matches are played best of three sets using the rally point system. The first two sets are played to 21 points, with the final tie-breaker set being played to 15 points. A team must win a set by two points. There is no ceiling, so a set continues until one of the teams gains a two-point advantage.

Volleyball :: Volleyball

Prior to Sydney 2000, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) introduced a new specialist role: the libero. This player wears a different colored uniform from the rest of the team and can be substituted in backcourt for any player on the team. The libero cannot serve, spike the ball over the net or rotate into the front-line positions, but plays a vital role for the team in serve reception and backcourt defense. There must be at least one point played between a libero substituting off for a player and going back on the court for another player - hence he/she cannot be on the court for the whole game. The libero added an extra dimension to backcourt defense during the Sydney 2000 Games, improving the reception of teams, lengthening the rallies and giving a vital role to shorter players.
Matches are played best of five sets. The first four sets are played to 25 points, with the final set being played to 15 points. A team must win a set by two points. There is no ceiling, so a set continues until one of the teams gains a two-point advantage. Previously, all sets were to 15 points, with the first four sets having a ceiling of 17 and the final set requiring at least a two-point winning advantage.


An ancient sport as old as mankind, embodying the most direct manifestation of human strength, weightlifting has not only flourished, but also developed into a modern sporting discipline for the 21st century. The apparent simplicity of lifting the barbell from the ground and over the head in one or two movements is deceiving. Weightlifting requires a combination of power, speed, technique, concentration and timing. Super heavyweight lifters normally claim the title of World’s Strongest Man or Woman. However, kilo per kilo, the lightest weightlifter is often the strongest. Men’s weightlifting was on the program of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Women participated for the first time at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000.


Greco- Roman
Greco- Roman

If the Olympic Games are a history of mankind, wrestling is the prologue. When the ancient Games of the Olympiad were born, wrestling already was an ancient game. Widely recognized as the world's oldest competitive sport, wrestling appeared in a series of Egyptian wall paintings as many as 5000 years ago. When the Games began in 776 BCE, more than two millenniums later, it included wrestling, and, in the years that followed, wrestling featured as the main event.
The sport would return in a similar role when the Olympic Games returned after a 1500-year absence in 1896. Organizers, seeking direct links to ancient times, found a natural in the sport that had enjoyed popularity across much of the ancient world, from Greece, Assyria and Babylon to India, China and Japan. They resurrected Greco-Roman wrestling, a style they believed to be an exact carryover from the Greek and Roman wrestlers of old.
When the modern Olympic Games resumed in Athens in 1896, organizers considered wrestling so historically significant that it became a focus of the Games. They remembered tales of wrestling competition in 708 BCE, of oiled bodies fighting on sand in the ancient Games. Greco-Roman wrestling was deemed a pure reincarnation of ancient Greek and Roman wrestling. Eight years later, Olympic officials added a second category with far less history and far less grandeur, but great popularity. Commonly known as "catch as catch can", freestyle wrestling had become the staple of 19th-century fairs and festivals in Great Britain and the United States, a form of professional entertainment. Like Greco-Roman wrestling, it became a staple of the Games themselves. In Greco-Roman competition, now dominated by Russia, wrestlers use only their arms and upper bodies to attack. In freestyle, wrestlers also use their legs and may hold opponents above or below the waist.

Wrestling :: Freestyle

The Olympic freestyle medallists in 1996 represented 17 different countries, 15 in Sydney and 17 in Athens.
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, there were seven events in men’s freestyle. For the first time ever, women participated in four. A total of 344 athletes competed in the three disciplines of this sport, freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling.

Wrestling :: Greco- Roman

The Olympic Greco-Roman medallists in 1996 represented 6 different countries, with this figure growing to 15 in Sydney and 16 in Athens.
At the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 there were seven events (weight classes) in men's Greco-Roman. A total of 344 athletes competed in the three disciplines of this sport, freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling.

When the games begin, there will be links to results for all 35 sports.