London 2012: Olympic Games event guides
The greatest sportsmen and women from around the world are in London, competing in events ranging from archery to wrestling, badminton to volleyball.
How do those sports work? How did the superstars get started and how can you have a go yourself?
With expert analysis, rules, history, ones to watch and an explanation of each sport's unique appeal, BBC Sport provides comprehensive guides alongside details of how to try them out.
Liz Mynott BBC Sport
“You're going to get such excitement - archery is very fast-paced”
Want to know how to hit something the size of a beermat from a distance of seven bus-lengths? This is the place.
Meet the GB archer heading to her sixth Olympics, discover which Asian nation dominates the sport, and use Archery GB's club finder to work out where you can pick up a bow for the first time.
Kriss Akabusi BBC Sport
“Team GB's athletes are set for their best Olympics ever”
Did you know? Marathon runners burn up almost twice the average person's daily calorie allowance in one race.
Now, you may not want to take things to that extreme, but UK Athletics has a 'Grassroots' scheme to get new athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers into the sport. Here, find out where to find one near you, plus the equipment you'll need and the history of Olympic athletics.
Gail Emms BBC Sport
“Badminton players are super-fit, super-fast and have super reactions”
Not many sports hit speeds of up to 200mph - but badminton does. Or the shuttlecock, at least.
It'll take you a while to hit it that fast but if you want to learn, there are more than 2,200 clubs in the UK. Use our guide to find one near you plus find out where Britain's medal hopes might lie at London 2012.
John Amaechi BBC Sport
“Basketball has the most well-rounded athletes in the world”
More than 300,000 people play basketball each month in Britain. If you're at school, the 'Try Basketball' scheme can get you involved - if you're over 25, 'Ball Again' is the scheme for you.
Get all the details you need to play basketball here, as well as John Amaechi's expert verdict on London 2012 and Britain's basketball hopes.
Matt Chilton BBC Sport
“Watch for 10 minutes and you'll realise how incredible these athletes are”
Hang on, how many tonnes of sand? Immerse yourself in the summery sport of beach volleyball here. And yes, even in blustery Britain, taster sessions are available.
Head here for more information on how the 'Go Spike' campaign can get you involved, as well as our guide to the basics ahead of the London 2012 competition on Horse Guards Parade.
Lucy Abel BBC Sport
“Only GB and Russia have the full quota of three women boxers”
Don't try this at home. Instead, try it at your local club - where you'll the right equipment and vital supervision as you develop the physical and mental discipline needed in boxing.
Our guide has full details of clubs in the UK as well as an explanation of the weight divisions at the Games, a look at how scoring works in amateur boxing, and BBC experts' predictions for Team GB.
Helen Reeves BBC Sport
“In canoe slalom, something is always on the edge of going wrong”
You could fill 75 bath tubs per second with the water coursing down the Lee Valley slalom course. So it's probably an idea to start somewhere else.
Happily, there are clubs all over the UK with equipment you can borrow and slightly calmer waters on hand. Our guide has all the details plus all the rules of slalom canoeing - like gates and penalties - explained.
Helen Reeves BBC Sport
“Team GB are expected to win a couple of medals here”
Head down and paddle as fast as you possibly can - over 200m, 500m or a full kilometre. But beginners can find it tricky enough just getting in the boat without capsizing.
Help is at hand. Our guide covers place to start paddling in the UK, plus we explain the various classes of Olympic sprint canoe racing and rate British hopes at London 2012.
Jamie Staff BBC Sport
“BMX is a fast-paced sport that is made for television”
Bumps and berms abound in Britain. There are more than 50 BMX tracks in the UK to choose from if you fancy yourself the new Shanaze Reade.
Our guide tells you where to find them all, what the sport's about, who the Olympic favourites are and how the rules shape the event at London 2012. Maybe skip the part about the broken collarbone if you're just about to start out.
Cycling: Mountain Bike
Ed Leigh BBC Sport
“Czech star Jaroslav Kulhavy is a huge man but he seems to defy physics”
There are four types of mountain bike race - cross-country, the Olympic one, is probably a good place to start. Downhill can be something to aim at for later. Helmet, knee pads and so on? Essential.
British Cycling offers various ways into MTB and we've got them covered in our guide. We also take a look at the top British riders and explain the rules of Olympic cross-country mountain biking ahead of the Games.
Hugh Porter BBC Sport
“All British hopes will be pinned on super-sprinter Mark Cavendish”
Britain's roads reverberate like never before with the whirring wheels of weekend warriors on their road bikes. Fancy joining them? We'll explain how initiatives like Sky Ride can help out. You don't have to compete - simply going for a ride counts.
However, there's a lot more at stake this summer for the best British road cycling team in generations, if not ever. Our guide picks apart the rules and riders for the London 2012 road races and time trials.
Hugh Porter BBC Sport
“Young British star Laura Trott will win the hearts of the crowd”
After the Olympics there will be a shiny, new velodrome waiting for you. But what skills do you need? Why stay indoors instead of pedalling out on the open road? And doesn't always going left get boring?
Our guide answers these questions and can help you find a track near you. British hopes are high for more track cycling success this summer, so we also preview the London 2012 track cycling programme.
Leon Taylor BBC Sport
“Divers look like they are performing magic with their twists and turns”
Diving tones a wide variety of muscles, engaging the lower body, back, shoulders, abdominals and arm muscles. Don't underestimate this sport - as you get better, it becomes a full-body workout.
Don't underestimate the best of British, either. Tom Daley is a household name but our guide introduces you to a few more Team GB names as well as ways to start out in the sport in the UK.
Michael Tucker BBC Sport
“Watch out for Charlotte Dujardin, who is a young talent in dressage”
Riding a horse is probably less expensive and tricky than you think. Lessons are available all over the country and our guide tells you where to try the sport for the first time.
This is actually three sports in one: eventing, dressage and jumping. We explain which is which, how the skills you need differ between the three, and what to expect in each at London 2012.
Karim Bashir BBC Sport
“Who doesn't want to watch two people fighting with swords?”
Fencing is a sport that will tone muscles, build core strength and reward agility and all-round fitness. There are 300 or so clubs in the UK waiting to hear from you, while even toddlers can get involved using foam swords.
Our guide has all those details as well as an overview of the three types of fencing at the Olympics - epee, foil and sabre - and some suggestions for names to watch.
Faye White BBC Sport
“For Britain's women, the Olympics are as big as the World Cup”
There are all kinds of ways to start playing football in Britain. To help you on the way, our guide has links to all the right places to find advice and locations near you.
Olympic football can also be confusing - there are unique rules about age in the men's game and this is the one place you will find a GB football team, so we explain more about that and pick some teams to watch at the Games.
Christine Still BBC Sport
“Hardly anyone has the skill to pull off the feats you will see at the Games”
Bad news. You can't get a perfect 10 any more - that scoring system faded some time ago - but it turns out 16.375 is the new 10.0, so you'll just have to aim for that when you sign up at one of the 1,600-plus gymnastics clubs in the UK.
Our guide gives you all the links you need to make a start, as well as explaining how anyone gets to a score of 16.375 (or higher) and who from Team GB might do just that this summer.
Christine Still BBC Sport
“Gymnasts have to be supple, strong and possess wonderful hand-eye coordination”
Ribbons, hoops, clubs and balls are the tools of this trade - plus flexibility, agility and, of course, rhythm.
Our guide explains how to try rhythmic gymnastics for yourself as well as explaining what to look out for when you watch the Olympic group and individual finals. What are the rules? How is it scored? And what are the hopes of the British team at London 2012?
Christine Still BBC Sport
“The margin for error is so slim - one small movement can finish you”
Most people have had a go on a trampoline, but moves at the top level are astonishingly complex - not to mention lasers measuring how long you spend in the air, to the millisecond, all of which counts towards your score.
If you want to get bouncing then our guide will put you in the picture, while explaining what happens in an Olympic trampoline final and picking the protagonists who may have a spring in their step this summer.
Paul Bray BBC Sport
“The Olympics is a unique opportunity for people in Britain to see handball”
Handball never used to be big at all in Britain, but with a home Games that is changing. There are nearly 100 clubs to join across the UK and our guide will help you find the one nearest to you.
But how do you play? Is it more like basketball or football? And how come Iceland are so good at it? We explain all that and more, plus we introduce the British teams for London 2012.
Mel Clewlow BBC Sport
“More goals are being scored and skill levels are massively improved”
Want to try hockey? Now could be the right moment, with the two GB sides looking the strongest they have in years. England Hockey and the home nations' other governing bodies run programmes like Hockey Nation to get newcomers involved.
Our guide provides useful links to those projects as well as looking at the rule changes designed to speed up the game at London 2012, and the main contenders for gold.
Nicola Fairbrother BBC Sport
“In judo, technique can and does often overcome power”
Don't get in the way of Teddy Riner. France's 6ft 8in heavyweight judo star has five world titles to his name and looks to be a certainty for Olympic gold at London 2012.
With a bit of luck, he won't turn up to your judo taster session. Our guide tells you where to find a club near you, explains the rules of the Olympic event (including the categories) and looks at Britain's brightest hopes.
Eleanor Oldroyd BBC Sport
“In one day, pentathletes will use some of London 2012's most iconic venues”
Swimming and running is a good place to start here. Then try your hand at shooting. After that, you only need to acquaint yourself with showjumping and fencing, and you're a modern pentathlete.
This is a sport with plenty of nuances and some important rule changes for London 2012 - involving laser guns, primarily, so you'll want to read on. Our guide explains the sport, it's history, and where to find out more.
Dan Topolski BBC Sport
“You are going to get medals galore if you tune into the rowing”
Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent helped to establish Britain at the top of global rowing, but there's nothing to stop the rest of us going for a weekend outing on the UK's rivers.
Our guide explains the different rowing boat classes, links to more useful information on getting started, and asks whether Team GB can maintain its fine medal record in the sport this summer.
Rob Walker BBC Sport
“This is one of the most challenging ways you can win an Olympic medal”
Britain is a sailing nation and the Olympic sport takes in everything from dinghies to windsurfers (and, from Rio 2016, kiteboarding).
We explain the different regattas of the Games in our guide, alongside a full preview of leading British names - like three-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie - and ways to get started in the sport.
David Oates BBC Sport
“The level of concentration among the top shooters is extraordinary ”
Keep an eye on double trap shooting at this year's Games for the best chance of British success. And if you're looking to try the sport yourself, our guide includes links to introductory courses where you'll get to experience the different weapons and learn basic safety.
We also go through the Olympic events and explain a scoring system that, unusually, goes up to 10.9.
Sharron Davies BBC Sport
“I think there should be a British woman in every final except the breaststroke”
Wil Rebecca Adlington win gold again? Who will come out on top between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte? And is there a swimming pool nearby?
All valid questions and our guide can help with each, boasting details of various British Swimming programmes alongside analysis of this summer's main event at London 2012 and the top Britons hoping to win medals.
Andrea Holland BBC Sport
“The athletes train so hard, putting in 10-hour days at least five days a week”
Nowhere else in the Olympic Games is being able to hold your breath such a valuable skill. Synchro may look dainty and balletic, but you need considerable fitness levels and coordination to succeed.
Find out where to get started with our guide, plus get the lowdown on the most likely candidates for Olympic gold in one of only two sports at the Games limited to female participants (the other being rhythmic gymnastics).
Ian Marshall BBC Sport
“China should sweep the medals, but their athletes can crack under pressure”
Millions of people play table tennis in Britain. Our guide will also tell you it's a favoured sport of Susan Sarandon, George Clooney and Bill Gates, but - more importantly - we have all the information you need to start playing.
At the Olympics, table tennis is dominated by China. We also take a look at the sport's Olympic history and the prospects of a six-strong Britsih contingent this summer.
John Cullen BBC Sport
“Taekwondo is easy to understand. It's two people trying to kick each other”
Britain's four-strong team - excluding the world number one in his category, Aaron Cook, you will recall - has a good chance of medals at London 2012.
But how do you win those medals? How is taekwondo scored, why are kicks to the head so important, and how has technology in the sport developed? Plus, how do you get started in the sport? Our guide has all the answers.
Andrew Castle BBC Sport
“You are going to see tennis in a different light, passion from the word go”
Just weeks after Wimbledon, tennis is back on the same grass courts for the Olympic Games - as are some of the biggest names in the sport, not least Britain's own beaten Wimbledon finalist Andy Murray.
Did you know that there are more than 500 venues across the UK where you can play tennis for free? Our guide has all those details as well as a run-down of the Olympic tennis tournament and ones to watch.
Matt Chilton BBC Sport
“Jessica Ennis gets a break in the heptathlon - these guys don't”
Britain's Brownlee brothers are hot favourites for a one-two in this summer's Olympic men's triathlon. They started out by fell-running in Yorkshire but there are plenty of other ways to get into this sport of swimming, cycling and running.
Our guide outlines how to start out in triathlon, provides some background on the Brownlees and sizes up their opponents inside Hyde Park at London 2012.
Jonathan Legard BBC Sport
“Four years ago, China's women attracted TV audiences of 370 million”
This sport was supposedly devised as a gentler alternative to basketball - tell that to the teams at the Olympics. And then find out for yourself by taking part in the Go Spike campaign and getting involved in the game.
Our guide has the details you need to sign up plus more background on the sport, an asssessment of Team GB's hopes at London 2012 and a look at ones to watch from other nations.
Lisa Knights BBC Sport
“Anything goes under the water as players gain whatever advantage they can”
Great Britain won four of the first five Olympic water polo tournaments. That, it seems, was apparently enough as no GB team has qualified for any Games since 1956. This summer, both GB's men and women will compete as the host nation.
Water polo is a tough sport, requiring endurance and physicality. Read our guide to get started and find out more about the sport at London 2012.
Non Evans BBC Sport
“The technique and strength on show from the athletes is phenomenal”
Teenage British weightlifter Zoe Smith has proved you don't have to be the size of a house to make a career out of weightlifting - or even a hobby.
If Smith has inspired you, our guide can help you find the nearest of the UK's 50 or so weightlifting clubs. We also explain the sport's basics, look at some of the key names heading to London 2012 and profile the chances of Brits lifting a medal.
Non Evans BBC Sport
“It can be over in a second or last three gruelling two-minute rounds”
One famous Olympic wrestling bout lasted an incredible 11 hours - if you fancy having a go, chances are your first try might be over a little sooner. Our guide has all the information you need to help you pick from the 40 wrestling clubs in the UK that can get you going.
Britain has one wrestler at the Games. Meet her in our guide, read up on the rules that separate this from pro wrestling, and size up some of the superstars coming to London for the Games.