H. And J. Hmm.

Hi-Jinks? Ho-Jo?

No. Can’t think of a single pun, so I’m going to play this straight.

Events, scheduled for the London Olympics of 2012, beginning with the letters H, and J:

Handball, Hockey, and Judo.

Additional facts and figures from http://www.olympic.org, for which, many thanks.



The modern game of handball was first played towards the end of the 19th century in Scandinavia and Germany.
G. Wallström introduced the sport of “handball” to Sweden in 1910.

The ball has a leather casing, and ranges in circumference from 58 to 60 cm for men and 54 to 56, for women. It weighs 425 to 475 grams for men, 325 to 400 for women.

The court for handball is 40 metres long and 20 metres wide.
A center line divides it into two equal courts, with a goal area at each end.
The goal area is D-shaped, arcing from the corners to a straight line six meters in front of the goal. The arcing sides similarly create a 6-meter distance from the nearest part of the goal at all points.

A back line across the end of the court – but not including the goal line – is also called the outer goal line.

The International Amateur Handball Federation (IAHF) was set up in 1928, on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

Following its appearance at the 1936 Berlin Games, the first Field Handball World Championships were played in Germany in 1938.

Between 1938 and 1966 two forms of handball were played at separate World Championships:
1. An outdoor, 11-a-side game played on a football pitch and
2. A new 7-a-side indoor version preferred by the Scandinavians.

After 1936, field handball was not played at the Olympic Games, except as a demonstration sport in 1952 in Helsinki.

Indoor handball featured for the first time at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Yugoslavia won the first gold medal, after a competition between 16 men’s teams.

Women’s handball debuted at the Games of Montreal 1976. Six teams featured, and The Soviet Union won this first women’s Olympic competition.



Field hockey is a fast-moving game played outdoors, in teams of 11.

Hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game; records exist of it being played in Persia in 2000 BC. The name “hockey” probably derives from the French “hocquet” (a shepherd’s crook), and refers to the crooked stick which is used to hit a small ball.

The Blackheath Hockey Club was established in England, in 1861. The Amateur Hockey Association was then formed in London in 1886, before workers and the military carried the game to the four corners of the British Empire.

Until the 1970s, the game at international level was mainly played on natural grass, but the heavy playing surface made the game quite slow.

When (artificial) plastic turf was first used, the game became quicker and more exciting, giving birth to its modern form.

Hockey first appeared at the 1908 Games in London. It became a firm fixture on the Olympic program, from the Antwerp Games in 1920.

Women made their debut in this sport in 1980, at the Moscow Games.

Since the 2000 Games in Sydney, men have competed in a 12-team tournament, and women in a 10-team one.

In its 100 years of Olympic existence, hockey has essentially been dominated by one country.
The Indian men’s team – with six consecutive titles between 1928 and 1956 – was unbeaten in 30 consecutive matches, and scored 197 goals, giving away only eight.



Judo is a traditional Japanese wrestling sport, developed in the 1880s.

Judo is derived from jujitsu, the hand-to-hand combat technique of Japan’s ancient samurai warriors. It involves throwing opponents to the floor and holding them in submission.

It was Dr Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) who combined the features of the various schools of the sport and codified the rules. Kano stressed the philosophical principles of judo, adding methods of physical, intellectual and moral education, eliminating many of the dangerous parts of jujitsu, and opening his first school, or dojo, in 1882.

In Japanese the word ju-do means “the way of suppleness” referring to the story of a tree branch ‘bending’ under the weight of snow, and not breaking.

The competition area in judo is comprised of vinyl-covered foam mats, or tatami.
Two pieces of tape – one blue and one white – appear on the middle of the contest area.

The judoka (judo practitioners) wear loose-fitting judo uniforms called judogi, consisting of pants, a jacket and a belt tied at the waist.

Bouts last for five minutes, and can be as physically demanding as boxing and wrestling.

Judo made its first appearance at the Olympic Games in 1964 in Tokyo.

It was not included in 1968 in Mexico City, but returned, never to leave again, at the 1972 Games in Munich.

Women’s judo was added to the Games in 1992 in Barcelona.

Men and women now compete in seven weight categories:


+ 100kg (heavyweight) men
– 60 kg men
60 – 66kg (half-lightweight) men
66 – 73kg (lightweight) men
73 – 81kg (half-middleweight) men
81 – 90kg (middleweight) men
90 – 100kg (half-heavyweight) men


+ 78kg (heavyweight) women
– 48kg (extra-lightweight) women
48 – 52kg (half-lightweight) women
52 – 57kg (lightweight) women
57 – 63kg (half-middleweight) women
63 – 70kg (middleweight) women
70 – 78kg (half-heavyweight) women

There was originally a men’s category open to all weights, but this event was withdrawn after the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

This discipline is largely dominated by the Japanese, but, at the 1964 Tokyo Games in the open class, a 1.98-meter Dutchman named Anton Geesink defeated three-time Japanese national champion Kaminaga Akio before 15,000 people at Nippon Budokan Hall. It followed victories earlier in the year over other top Japanese opponents, upsetting the theory that a skilled judoka could defeat any opponent of any size.

See you next time, for M and… well. M.

Till then.