Not the honey-producing, stinging variety.

The Bs in question here are sporting events, due to feature at the upcoming Olympic Games of London 2012:
Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, and Boxing.

Arcane facts and figures courtesy of http://www.olympic.org.

Badminton

Badminton

The sport takes its name from Badminton House, a stately home in Gloucestershire, England, and seat of the Duke of Beaufort. In 1873, the then Duke brought a version of the game – poona – back from India.

In 1877, the Bath Badminton Club issued the first set of rules for the newly-dubbed game of badminton. The Badminton Federation of England was created 16 years later. In 1899, it organized the first All England Championships.

Badminton was a demonstration sport at the 1972 Olympic Games, in Munich. It became part of the official program at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, with men’s and women’s singles and doubles events. The mixed doubles were included at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and have featured since then.

The game is comparable to tennis but, unlike that sport, the net between opponents is raised significantly above ground level. Rather than hitting a ball across it, competitors must use their rackets on a shuttlecock – a piece of cork covered in goat skin, with 16 goose feathers attached to one end. The shuttlecock can be made from natural or synthetic materials.

Asian countries have dominated the sport, bagging 69 of the 76 Olympic medals available between 1992 and 2008. The leading nations are China, Indonesia, and the Republic of Korea.

Basketball

Basketball

Basketball was invented in 1891, by the Canadian, James W. Naismith, an instructor at the YMCA Training School, in Massachusetts, USA.

The game was originally played with peach baskets. Balls had to be retrieved manually, after each score. In time, a hole was drilled into the bottom of the basket, and balls were poked out with a long rod. It was not until 1906 that metal hoops with rigid backboards were introduced.

A standard soccer ball was initially used. The first balls made specifically for the game were brown. In the late 1950s, Tony Hinkle introduced the trademark orange ball, which was more visible to players and spectators.

The first international games were played during the 1920s. In 1950, the first World Championship for Men was held in Argentina. 1953 saw the first World Championship for Women, in Chile.

Basketball appeared at the Olympic Games of 1904, in St. Louis, as a demonstration sport. The competition was held between exclusively American teams.

At the 1936 Games in Berlin, basketball became part of the official program, where it remains.
The USA has historically dominated the men’s competition, winning all the titles up to Munich 1972, when it was defeated by the then Soviet Union.

Women’s basketball debuted at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
The Soviets took gold in the women’s event in 1976, 1980, and 1992 – the only year between 1984 and 2008 where the American women did not triumph.

The Barcelona Games of 1992 saw the first appearance of the Dream Team, an American squad made up of famous professionals from the NBA (National Basketball Association) – on paper at least, the best basketball team ever formed.

Beach Volleyball

Beach Volleyball

In ball games, a volley describes a return or strike of the ball, before it touches the ground.

In beach volleyball, the ground in question is beach sand, and the object of the game is to keep a large ball moving back and forth over a high net. Points are scored for or against, if the ball hits the sand.

Beach volleyball first appeared in the early 1920s, in Santa Monica, California, as a popular pastime. By the 1930s, the game had spread as far as Czechoslovakia, Latvia, and Bulgaria.

The first official two-man tournament was held in 1947, in the USA. The first beach volleyball circuit – involving hundreds of players and five California beaches – began in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, The Beatles pop group played a short exhibition game at Sorrento Beach, in Los Angeles. US President John F. Kennedy was the star spectator, at another venue.

Beach volleyball’s “cool” image had been established, and sponsorship money began to roll in.

The advent of the women’s game added “sexy” to the sponsors’ vocabulary, and things have gone on, from there.

Hey; this is a sport where sun protection and sunglasses are part of the official kit.

Beach volleyball made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Games, in Atlanta.

Boxing

Boxing

The earliest evidence of boxing can be traced back to Egypt, around 3000 BC.

The sport was introduced to the ancient Olympic Games in Greece, in the late 7th century BC. Soft leather thongs were used to bind the boxers’ hands and forearms, as protection.

At the height of the Roman Empire, leather thongs were replaced by the cestus – a glove studded with metal – with predictable consequences. Boxing matches of this era typically ended with the death of one or other of the combatants.

With the fall of Rome came the decline of boxing. It resurfaced in 17th century England. Organized amateur boxing began officially in 1880.

At the 1904 Games in St. Louis, USA, boxing made its Olympic debut. And it was the USA – which contributed all the contestants – that (understandably enough) won all the medals.

Boxing has appeared at each subsequent edition of the Games, with the exception of Stockholm, in 1912, where Swedish law prohibited the sport.

Several household names – such as Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Sugar Ray Leonard, and Lennox Lewis – made the transition from Olympic competition to huge success, in the professional ring.

The 1984 Games in Los Angeles made protective helmets (headguards, which leave the face uncovered) compulsory.

Barcelona 1992 saw the establishment of the electronic scoring system, and the points scoring was standardized in 2007, before the Games of Beijing, in 2008.

Women’s boxing will debut at London 2012. The current 11 men’s events:

MEN’S EVENTS
+ 91kg (super heavyweight) men
– 48kg (light-flyweight) men
48 – 51kg (flyweight) men
51 – 54kg (bantamweight) men
54 – 57kg (featherweight) men
57 – 60kg (lightweight) men
60 – 64 kg men
64 – 69 kg men
69 – 75 kg men
75 – 81kg (light-heavyweight) men
81 – 91kg (heavyweight) men

will be replaced by 10 men’s and 3 women’s events.

So. There’s your Killer Bs.

“What?? No BMX?” I hear you scream.

Well, that comes under the umbrella of Cycling – which will be part of the Cool CDs.

Which are coming up, next.

Till then.

Peace.

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