London Spy

  • Pendleton: Feeling pressure of competing at her home Games

    Victoria Pendleton has won everything there is to win in women's track cycling, but it will all count for nothing if she does not deliver gold at her home Olympics.

    The 31-year-old claimed four world sprint titles in a row and five out of six between 2005 and 2010, and also won the Olympic sprint title in 2008.

    However, despite already being one of Britain's greatest ever track cyclists, Pendleton has said success at London 2012 is "the only goal that's ever going to matter". Fortunately, Pendleton is an expert at fulfilling expectations.

    In Beijing she had to sit and wait while the likes of

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  • Venue guide: Wembley Arena

    Where is it?: Arena Square, Engineers Way, North-West London.

    Find it on the map: Here

    How do you get there?: Public transport — rail, tube or bus — is recommended, as there will be no official car parking near the arena during the Games. The venue is on five Transport for London bus routes (79, 83, 92, 182 and 224) and is close to two National Rail stations and two London Underground stops. NR trains run to Wembley Stadium station from London Marylebone and to Wembley Central from Euston, while the Jubilee and Metropolitan tube lines serve Wembley Park, and the Bakerloo line stops at Wembley

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  • Sport guide: Table tennis


    The 2012 table tennis programme will feature men's and women's singles events, as well as team competitions, but there will be no doubles tournaments. They were dropped after 2004.

    The sport became part of the schedule in 1988, when China and hosts South Korea each won two gold medals.

    Since then the Chinese have dominated, achieving a clean sweep of gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2008. The Beijing Games also saw China claim all three medals in the men's and women's singles, the first time a nation had swept the board in one competition since China's women's singles success in

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  • Olympic history: Seoul 1988

    A doped-up Ben Johnson salutes his 100m 'victory'

    When the Games arrived in Seoul, the superpowers were back, but the event wasn't quite free of boycotts and it would be remembered for one of the biggest sporting scandals in the history of the Olympics.

    The boycott was by North Korea, in protest at rejection of its demands to host half the events. Significant among their sympathisers who also stayed away were Cuba and Ethiopia, both missing their second successive Olympics through political posturing.

    A new Olympic flag made from Korean silk flew above the stadium, but there was a mishap during the opening ceremony when a number of the doves

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  • Where are they now? Eric ‘The Eel’ Moussambani

    Eric 'The Eel' Moussambani struggles his way through his 100m heat in Sydney.

    A cult hero was born at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, as Eric 'The Eel' Moussambani entered the record books for all the wrong reasons.

    Moussambani arrived in Australia representing Equatorial Guinea in the men's 100m freestyle swimming event with just £50 to his name.

    Qualifying for the games via a wild-card scheme and even given the honour of carrying his nation's flag during the opening ceremony, a rags-to-riches fairytale could well have been on the cards.

    Problem was, Moussambani only taught himself to swim AFTER securing the wild-card berth, and had never even seen an Olympic-standard 50m

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  • Greene with 400m hurdles gold at the 2011 Worlds

    There's more than just a gold medal riding on London 2012 for 400 metres hurdler Dai Greene. A place in the history books also awaits.

    The Welshman goes into the Olympics as the reigning European, Commonwealth and world champion.

    If he adds an Olympic title to his collection, he will become only the fifth British athlete to hold gold medals in all four major events at the same time, following in the footsteps of greats such as Daley Thompson, Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Jonathan Edwards.

    What is exciting about Greene, who will be 26 when London 2012 gets under way, is that he still has

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  • Venue guide: Horse Guards Parade

    Where is it?: Whitehall, Westminster, Central London.

    Find it on the map: Here

    How do you get there?: By virtually any method of transport except car. As the parade ground is situated right in the heart of central London, it is within walking distance of three National Rail stations — Charing Cross, Victoria and Waterloo — although Charing Cross is the closest at about 600 yards. The venue is also within easy reach of four London Underground stations — Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines), Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo) and

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  • 60 seconds with Helen Jenkins

    Who is your sporting idol?

    I didn't have one!

    If you were not a swimmer, what would you be?

    I'd probably go into nursing. I took a year off once and did that to get some money.

    You can attend any one event in history. What would it be?

    I'd watch Seb Coe win his medals in the Olympics. I was lucky enough to see Usain Bolt win the 200 in Beijing.

    Did you see him in the village, and try to talk to him?

    I did see him knocking around, but there were so many people around him in the village all the time that I thought I'd leave him alone!

    Would you change the order of the triathlon disciplines if

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  • Sport guide: Swimming


    Swimming has been part of every schedule at the modern Games, but it was touch and go in 1896.

    In conditions that were considered too rough for sailing and rowing, the swimmers just got on with it, although Hungary's Alfred Hajos, winner of the 100 metres freestyle, commented later that his will to live overcame his desire to win.

    From 1908 the swimmers used a dedicated pool rather than open water, but long-distance open-water events were added to the schedule in 2008. Synchronised swimming had become part of the programme in 1984.

    The nature of the swimming

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  • Olympic history: Los Angeles 1984

    Carl Lewis celebrates yet another gold by waving a tiny flag

    The return of the Olympics to the United States — and to Los Angeles — after 52 years brought record numbers of athletes, nations and revenue. The festival also saw the United States return to the top of the medals table, if only because of the absence of the Soviet Union and a few of its sympathisers.

    Mary Lou Retton springs to glory in the gymnastics arenaComparisons with the medals haul in Moscow are pointless because of the impact of the western boycott on those Games, but in addition to the Soviets this tit-for-tat protest deprived Los Angeles of East Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Cuba from the top 10 in Montreal.

    But Romania turned

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