by Amy K. Bredemeyer
Ever wonder what events are in the Pentathlon? I have. In fact, I've been watching the Quadrennial Events for over twenty years and still struggle to remember the differences between Judo and Taekwondo, and why some volleyball is played on a court while some is played on the sand. So, like we did for the Snowy Sports, we wanted to explain what some of the different activities are for which you can earn shiny circles every four years when it's hot outside. [if you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about, be aware that there are all sorts of copyrights and trademarks in place for the words and images one might traditionally see used every time an international competition of this magnitude takes place. I've read a ton about who is allowed to use the "real words" and when, and I just don't want to take any chances, because I certainly didn't apply for permissions.] So, let's get on with it! Because there are so many Hot-Weather Events, we're going to break it up into parts. Below is part 1. [Update: you can find part 2 here and part 3 here.]
Archery has Men's and Women's events, both Individual and Team. Individuals start with 64 competitors who each shoot six "ends" of 12 arrows. Scores "seed" you in a single-elimination bracket, and when you go against somebody, each shoots three arrows and the best score gets you 2 points (if you tie you get 1 point each). You repeat this until someone gets 6 points (if you both hit 6 at the same time, it's a shoot-off until someone does better).
Teams are made up of three archers, and their first-round scores from the Individual event are added together to figure out their seed. Each single-elimination round allows each archer on a team to shoot eight arrows.
Athletics means Track & Field. It's really big... we're talking 24 events for men and 23 for women (they don't do the 50K speed walk)
There's the 100M, 200M, 400M, 800M, 1500M, 5K, 10K, Marathon for running.
There's the 100M hurdles (Men's is actually 110M) and the 400M hurdles. There are ten hurdles 42" high that you have to jump over in the 100/110. Knocking them down doesn't hurt your score. The 400 is just doing the lap four times.
There's the 3000M steeplechase, which has you jumping/stepping on a 36" bar (30" for women) 28 times and dealing with a water puddle (12 feet long and 27" at its deepest) seven times.
There's the 4x100M relay and the 4x400 relay
There's the 20K walk (and the 50K walk for men)
There's the high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, hammer throw, javelin throw. High jump is running at a bar and jumping over it repeatedly as it keeps getting higher, with the highest successful jumper winning. Long jump has you running at a pit, taking off at a set spot, and seeing who can go the furthest. Triple jump starts off the same way, but when you land you can jump two more times from there. Pole vault is running with a pole and using it to get yourself over a high bar, over and over until you've cleared as high as you can. Shot put is the little cannonball, which you hold near your neck to throw - you want it to go far. Discus is the frisbee-looking thing (4.4 lbs for men and 2.2 lbs for women), again wanting to get it as far as possible. Hammer throw is the ball with the wire, weighing 16 lbs for men and almost 9 lbs for women, getting it as far as possible. The javelin is the 8' spear you throw as far as possible.
Men have the decathlon: 100M, 100M, long jump, high jump, shot put on one day, then 110M hurdles, 1500M, pole vault, discus throw, and javelin throw another day.
Women have the heptathlon: 100M hurdles, 200M, 800M, long jump, high jump, shot put, javelin throw. Scoring is done with a pretty specific formula for decathlon and heptathlon.
Badminton is the court sport with the racquets and the birdie, where you don't have to be the server to get a point. You win when you get to 21 points, as long as you have 2 points more than your opponent. You keep playing until someone has 2 points more than than your opponent, or someone hits 30 points. There's Singles and Doubles for Men and Women, as well as Mixed Doubles. Your world ranking sets your seed and it's all single-elimination.
Basketball has Men's and Women's. 1 team qualifies per event because of world championships and the host nation also qualifies. 7 more for men (5 more for women) qualify through regional championships. 3 more for for men (5 more for women) have a qualifying tournament. Those 12 teams are divided into two groups of six teams, and you play those five games, earning two points for a win and one point for a loss (and 0 for a forfeit). The best four teams from each set play a knockout round and the winners all move forward to the semis, with the winning teams going for the finals and the losing teams playing for third place.
Beach Volleyball has Men's and Women's teams of two. 24 teams start each event (a country can send two teams) in preliminaries in six groups of four. You play those three games, and the top 16 teams (two from each pool and then the two best third-ranked teams all go, plus the two winners of the other four third-ranked teams after they play a two-match round) play single-elimination brackets from there. A match is defined as best two-out-of-three sets, with 21 points needed to win the first and second but only 15 needed to win the third.
Boxing has ten weight classes for Men and three for Women (this is the first time they have this sport, actually), and you can qualify through the prior year's World amateur Boxing Championships or the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships, the Continental Olympic Qualifying Events, and the host nation gets some spots as well. One person per country per weight class is the rule. Men get three rounds of three minutes to score points, or knock-out someone for the count of 10. Women get four rounds of two points to do the same. It's a single-elimination tournament, but the winners of the semis in every weight class both get first while the losers both get third.
Canoeing and Kayaking has a lot of different things. There are two categories: slalom and sprint.
Slalom has Women and Men having kayak while Men also have single canoe and double canoe. Each country can send one boat per event, which is a time-trial down a 250M whitewater course. There are 25 gates, some which you go through regularly and some which you have to go upstream to get. Touching a gate adds two seconds to your time; missing a gate adds 50 seconds to your time.
Sprint has Men's singles kayak in 200M and 1000M, Men's doubles kayak in 200M and 1000M, and Men's four-person kayak in 1000M. There's also Men's singles canoe in 200M and 1000M, plus doubles in 1000M. Women have singles kayak in 200M and 500M, doubles in 500M, and four-person in 500M. Each country can send one boat in each head-to-head event, and the number of heats depend on the number of boats in each event.
Cycling is another big one, having events in BMX, Mountain Bike, Road Bike, and Track Bike.
BMX has Men's and Women's, with each country sending up to three men and two women. Men's track is 450M and women's is 440M. Each rider does the track once to determine seedings, and then I think the process is kinda confusing, so here is what london2012.com says: "The women progress straight to the semi-finals and the men’s event continues with the quarter-finals, which are held over five runs, with points for places on each run. After three runs, the best two riders from each quarter-final progress to the semi-finals. The remaining riders compete in the final two quarter-final runs and the best two from each quarter-final also progress to the semi-finals. From here, the semi-finals in both the men’s and women’s events follow a three-run format. The top four riders from each semi-final advance to the final, where the medals are decided over one run."
Mountain Bike has Men's and Women's, with each country sending up to three men and two women. It's a 4.7km course with a 4.4m loop. You do a set number of laps (I seriously can't find the exact number!), causing it to go 90-115 minutes. All competitors in each event start at the same time and that's that.
Road Bike has Men's and Women's Road Races and Time Trials. Each country can send five men and four women for the Road Race and two men and two women for the Time Trials. Road Race is 250K for men and 140K for women, and everyone starts at the same time. Time Trials have a course of 44K for men and 29K for women, plus riders start one at a time at 90-second intervals, and the fastest total time wins.
Track Bike has Men's and Women's Sprint, Team Sprint, Keirin, Omnium, and Team Pursuit. They do these in an indoor, oval track that is 250M. The Sprint is three laps and the Keirin is up to seven riders on a track, paced by a motorcycle and then sprint to finish. The Team Sprint has 3 men on a team doing 1 lap with all three, then 2 laps with just two of them and a third lap by just one of them. Women have two people on one lap and one person on a second lap.
The Team Pursuit is 16 laps for 4 men and 12 for 3 women, and everyone rides at the same time. Getting three of your four team members across the line is your time.
The Omnium has six parts - a flying lap, a points race (30K for men, 20K for women), an elimination (where either the fastest person every lap wins or the slowest person every lap loses), an individual pursuit (4K men, 3K women), a scratch race, and a time trial (1000M men, 500M women).
Diving has four events each for Men and Women: 3M Springboard, 10M Platform, 3M Synchronized Springboard, and 10M Synchronized Platform. Each country can send two individuals for the regular events and one team for the synchronized event. Divers submit their dives in advance so that their difficulty level is known. They receive a score 0-10 from each judge and it's multiplied by the difficulty. For the synchronized events, two sets of judges are used - one set determining execution and one set determining how synched they were.