The A-to-Z guide to the London Olympics

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
12:46
PM ET
Michael WhitakerDennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty ImagesDon't understand dressage? And you call yourself a sports fan?! Read below to educate yourself.
The 2012 Summer Olympics are set to begin and there’s no better way to preview the competition than by giving you the A-to-Zs of the London Games. Well, no better way, at least, for those of us who live in countries with the standard English A-to-Z alphabet. For everyone else? Sorry.

A – Archery

The Olympic archery competition will be held from July 27 to Aug. 3. It would probably be England’s best shot at a medal if not for the fact that Robin Hood has been dead for about 500 years and also wasn’t real.

B – Bolt

Usain Bolt is probably the most famous athlete in the Games. But he lost twice in the Jamaican Olympic trials, spurring injury rumors. Most assume Bolt’s back is giving him problems, as he had a special orthopedic mattress delivered to his room at the Olympic Village. So we at least know Bolt’s performance won’t be hindered by, well … refer to C for a moment. “Hey, girl, I’ve got an orthopedic mattress back in my room” is not a very good pickup line.

C – Condoms

Olympics organizers ordered 100,000 condoms for the Olympic Village. Yet it would be interesting, for science, if a few children are created by athletes during the Olympics. Would the children become great athletes due to their parents’ genes? Or would being conceived on British soil doom them to athletic failure? The world wants to know.

D – Dressage

Dressage is a French word that means “competitive horse prancing/humiliation.” At least we can assume that it is. But the person sitting atop a winning dressage horse gets the exact same gold medal that Usain Bolt gets. So don’t try to argue that they’re not equals as athletes. You’ll just sound stupid.

E – E-6

There is still no baseball at the Olympics. And, really, why should there be? Baseball already has an international competition called the World Series.

F – Fencing

Most Olympic oglers, our former president included, watch a lot of women’s beach volleyball. But if you really want to scope out the hottest Olympic athletes, you want fencing.

G – Golf

This is the last Olympics in which golf won’t be a sport. Well, some might argue it still isn’t a real sport. But starting in Rio in 2016, golf will at least be on the same standing internationally as dressage, so that’s something.

H – Hockey

You may see hockey scores scroll across your screen during the Olympics and think: “There’s hockey at the Summer Olympics?” No. There is not. There is field hockey, but they call it hockey. Sorry, fellas, we know what you’re doing. Good try, though.

[+] EnlargeLolo Jones
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesLolo Jones has become one of the most famous Olympians.
I – Implication

U.S. swimmer Tyler Clary implied recently that Michael Phelps has had success thanks more to his natural ability than hard work. Phelps denied that, saying: “Some people like to express their feelings with words. That's fine. I've gotten where I'm at by working hard. I know that.” It’s true: He has worked hard. It’s also true that some people like to express their feelings with words. That’s a good observation. Really, good points all around from someone who clearly isn’t the best at expressing his feelings with words.

J – Jones

Leisel Jones is an Australian swimmer who has won eight Olympic medals in her career and she qualified for the 2012 team, as well. Yet the Australian media has criticized her for being fat. First of all, it’s ridiculous to question whether an Olympic swimmer is in shape. And, second, if there is a weight issue, Australia needs to look in the mirror at its “throw another shrimp on the barbie” culture. You know what, Australia? Maybe sometimes you should just call it a day on the shrimp. Portion control is what I’m saying.

K – Koreas

There are two of them. Someone tell our friends in London.

L – Lolo Jones

She has exploded to fame thanks to her hurdling ability and her claim that she is a virgin. I honestly don’t see why the latter is a story. There are undoubtedly hundreds of virgins at the Olympics. Everyone competing in table tennis, for example.

M – Mandeville and Wenlock

These are the official mascots of London 2012. If the Olympics want to be drug-free, they should also make sure the mascot designers don’t use drugs. It’s not fair.

N – New York

There are two Knicks and one Nets player on the U.S. Olympic team. There is no reason for anyone to feel overconfident.

O – Olympics

Well, that was easy. But as an added bonus, let’s take a look at some amazing footage of the last time some English people put on the Olympics.

P – Personal best

That’s a term used when an athlete who sets a new personal record. While an accomplishment, it often seems to be presented as almost a backhanded compliment. “While Jones won gold and set a new world record, Smith over here got a new personal best in fifth place! Let’s not overlook that. Not everyone can be great. They just have to do the best they can.”

Q – Quitting

Michael Phelps says he is retiring from swimming after London. That’s a dangerous decision. What if someone pushes him into a pool?

R – Refalka

The Ann Romney-owned horse Refalka will be competing in Olympic dressage. This is exciting because it means we get to invite divisive, partisan politics into the Olympics – something that is supposed to bring everyone together. ROMNEYS SIT ON HELPLESS ANIMAL, FORCE IT TO WORK OVERSEAS FOR NO PAY! Or: ROMNEYS PROUDLY COMPETE FOR AMERICA, SOMETHING OBAMA WOULD NEVER DO!

[+] EnlargeSegway Tour
Deron WilliamsIs this any way to conduct yourselves, Team USA?
S – Segways

What the? The debate, if there ever was one, is over. 1992 Dream Team > 2012 Dream Team.

T – Twitter and tape delay

The London Games will be the first Twitter Summer Olympics. While Twitter existed in 2008, most people’s lives were still hashtag #free. While it will be possible to watch the London Games live, many humans have these things called #jobs that prevent them from watching sports all day every day. #Bummer. So that leaves watching events on tape delay in prime time. Twitter? Listen up: Don’t be giving out the results of things until everyone sees them, OK? For example, I don’t want to know who won the opening ceremonies until I watch them on tape delay. #BeijingWon

U – USA

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

V – Vuvuzelas

The last time we had a huge, international sporting event, everyone went deaf. Thankfully, London 2012 organizers have banned vuvuzelas and other noisemakers. That means you, Spice Girls.

W – War

There’s not supposed to be any war during the Olympics. So everyone at war: Cut that out, OK?

X – Xin Xin

Xin Xin is a 15-year-old Chinese swimmer who is a favorite for gold in the 800-meter freestyle. Also, her first and last names start with X, which is a big help to me here.

Y – Yohan Blake

Blake is the sprinter who beat Bolt in the Jamaican Olympic trials. He’ll run in London in the 100 and 200. Huh. Why is he not capable of running more than 200 meters? The Australian media probably thinks he’s out of shape.

Z – Zero

Private security firm G4S fell just a few thousand security officers short of the number it had been contracted to provide for the Olympics. Whoops. But at least it did better than zero. Let’s call it a new personal best.

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