London Spy

  • Payne shows off her gold medal at the 2011 open water Worlds

    Long-distance swimmer Keri-Anne Payne made it on to the stage at the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, but not quite in the capacity she would have hoped for.

    Having regained her world 10km open-water swimming crown in Shanghai just a few months earlier, she would have more than merited a place on the shortlist for the top award. However, she had to settle for presenting a gong.

    For this driven 24-year-old, who competes in arguably the most gruelling Olympic discipline of them all, playing a supporting role does not come easily.

    Out of the water, the South Africa-born athlete

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  • Venue guide: Velodrome

    Where is it?: Olympic Park, Stratford, East London.

    How do you get there?: The Velodrome is located to the north of the Olympic Park, which can be reached by rail, underground, Docklands Light Railway, bus or coach. National Rail, London Underground and DLR all serve Stratford station to the east of the park and West Ham station to the south, while Transport for London has bus stops in the area and there will also be coach services to the park.

    Capacity: 6,000.

    What events will be held there and when?: Track cycling (August 2-7).

    Public facilities: A back-of-house food area that will be

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  • Sport guide: Canoeing

    Brabants after winning silver at the 2010 Canoe Sprint World Championships


    Canoeing and kayaking as straight races, over flat water, were added to the Olympic schedule for Berlin in 1936. The white-water slalom events made a one-off appearance in 1972 and became a fixture in the schedule from 1992.

    The canoe races are head-to-head, men-only contests for individuals or pairs, with the participants using a single-bladed paddle in a kneeling position.

    The men's and women's kayak events are contested by individuals, pairs and teams of four who are seated and use paddles with blades at each end. Men race over 1,000 metres, women over 500m, and the

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  • Olympic history: Antwerp 1920

    The opening ceremony in Antwerp

    As war raged throughout Europe, preparations continued for the 1916 Olympic Games in Berlin because no one imagined the hostilities would last so long. And though the Games of the VI Olympiad were cancelled, they retained their place and number in the sequence.

    So Antwerp, at the heart of Europe's First World War battleground, became the venue for the VII Olympiad in 1920, and the innovations were of peace and unity. Victor Boin, who had won water polo medals for Belgium in 1908 and 1912, became the first person to swear the new Olympic Oath, and went on to win a silver in fencing.


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  • British medal hopes: Women’s football team

    England stars Kelly Smith and Faye White will be key players in the ladies' Great Britain team at the London Games.

    US-based Smith, 33, has over a hundred England caps to her name and is one of the most feared playmakers in the world.

    White, 34, has been a mainstay of the Arsenal and England defences since the 1990s and 2012 will also be one of the final major tournaments of an illustrious career for her.

    Smith told Eurosport that she never expected to play in an Olympics — but was looking forward to the prospect immensely.

    "The World Cup has formed the pinnacle of my career, whereas the

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  • GB athletes told not to shake hands

    British athletes are being told not to shake hands in case they catch an illness bug that could ruin their London 2012 Olympic dreams.

    The British Olympic Association's chief medical officer, Dr Ian McCurdie, believes athletes could easily pick up a harmful virus in the "stressful environment" of the Games.

    As a result, Dr McCurdie has commanded British athletes to not shake hands as he considers it to be a very real danger to their health.

    Dr McCurdie said: "Within reason, yes. I think that is not such a bad thing to advise."

    "The difficulty is when you have got some reception and you have

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  • London to hit revenue target

    Organisers of the London Olympics are set to meet their target of raising £2 billion to help stage the Games this summer.

    Revenue from sponsorship and ticket sales should top initial forecasts, putting the London Organising Committee on course to keep its side of the Olympic bargain, LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

    LOCOG will not publish final accounts until after the Games end, prompting criticism from London politicians and British media about a lack of transparency.

    "I broadly expect us to break even, said Deighton, who worked for investment bank

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  • Venue guide: ExCeL

    Where is it?: Royal Victoria Dock, East London.

    Find it on the map: Here

    How do you get there?: The Docklands Light Railway and bus routes provide the most suitable ways of getting to this venue, although London City Airport is only five minutes away. ExCeL is on the DLR Beckton line and is best reached via Custom House station. For your return journey, though, you have to board at Prince Regent station. Transport for London runs several bus routes in the area.

    Capacity: 6,000-10,000.

    What events will be held there and when?: Boxing (July 28-August 12), fencing (July 28-August 5), judo (July

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  • Sport guide: Boxing


    Long before the start of the 2012 Games, the big story from the boxing arena was the admission of women fighters.

    Women didn't take part at all in the first Olympics, there were fewer than 20 at the second edition and as they gradually made their mark, they were usually heavily protected. For example, the women's 800 metres track event was dropped between 1928 and 1960 because it was considered too demanding.

    However, female weightlifters were welcomed in 2000, the wrestlers followed in 2004 and now the boxers have joined.

    In the year of Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday,

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  • Olympic history: Stockholm 1912

    The opening ceremony in Stockholm

    On the one hand, the organisers opted to streamline the Games by reducing the number of events. On the other, they came up with the idea of adding art competitions to the schedule.

    Baron de CoubertinSo no boxing, because Sweden wouldn't allow it, but plenty of music, sculpture, painting and architecture. And literature, with the gold medal won by Baron de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, under a pseudonym.

    Other firsts included the introduction of electronic timing for the running events, a debut appearance by Japan and the first death in a Games event following the collapse of the Portuguese

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