No Beetles, mind. Or Golf. Though there will be sports. Specifically:

Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling

Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.

My thanks as ever to, for additional facts and figures.


Volleyball is a popular team sport played by hitting an inflated ball back and forth over a high net.

In the indoor game, each team has six players, while in beach volleyball (played outdoors on sand) teams consist of two players each. Points are scored by successfully landing the ball in the court of the opponents without it being returned.

Traditionally, a point could only be scored by the serving team. If a team failed to score, the serve went over to the other team. This is called a side-out. The exception was in the deciding game of a match, when rally scoring was used. In rally scoring, a point is scored on each serve, whether by the serving team or the nonserving team. Beginning in 1999, international volleyball switched to rally scoring in all games to help shorten match length.

The first team to score 15 points (traditional) or 25 points (rally scoring) wins the game, provided the margin of victory is at least 2 points. An indoor volleyball match consists of the best two out of three or three out of five games.

Volleyball was conceived as a less strenuous alternative to basketball. Both games were invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts, within a few years of one another.

In 1895, William G. Morgan – the physical education director of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) chapter in Holyoke, Massachusetts – after watching basketball develop, decided to invent a less strenuous sport for older people. He called this game “Mintonette”. However, a local professor noted the ball being volleyed (hit without being allowed to strike the ground) over the net, and the sport was almost immediately renamed.

Japan was playing the game by 1896, followed closely by other Asian countries, and the sport developed rapidly over the next 20 years. A specially designed ball came into play; six-a-side teams became standard, and the rules mandating three hits were instituted.

No country has been truly dominant in volleyball, although the former Soviet Union has won the most medals.

The Japanese and the Soviet women’s teams dominated from 1964 – 1984. The balance of power has since shifted to Cuba, then to China, and now to Brazil.

The United States men’s teams were prominent in the 1980s, Italy in the 1990s, and Brazil in the 2000s.


Weightlifting has ancient origins. As a means of measuring strength and power, it was practised by ancient Egyptian and Greek societies.

Weightlifting developed as an international sport primarily in the 19th century, and is one of the few sports to have featured at the 1896 Athens Games.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Austria, Germany and France were the most successful nations.

In the 1950s, the Soviet Union’s weightlifters rose to prominence, and stayed there until the 1990s when China, Turkey, Greece and Iran took the lead.

Although men’s weightlifting has always been on the program of the Olympic Games – except for at the 1900, 1908 and 1912 editions – women started to participate only at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

In the women’s field, China has been dominant since the very beginning.

The Olympic weightlifting program has evolved greatly over time. But the equipment lifted has remained much the same: a barbell, which consists of a steel bar with rubber-coated discs of different weights fastened onto it.

Competitors must lift the barbell loaded to a certain weight, under strictly specified conditions. In competition, the barbell’s weight is progressively loaded by one-kilogram increments.

Today, weightlifters compete in snatch and clean and jerk, and are placed according to their total combined result.

In the snatch, a loaded barbell is hefted from the ground to a position above the weightlifter’s head, in a continuous, (hopefully) smooth motion. Both legs may be flexed or moved at any time during this lift, but they must be straightened and returned to the same plane to complete the lift.

The clean and jerk involves hoisting the barbell to shoulder level (the clean), and then boosting it above head height (the jerk). Most competitors gain power for the final, upward thrust by bending and then suddenly straightening the knees, then moving the body under the barbell.

The Referee Light System is in operation now, whereby three referees give their decision about the correctness and validity of each lift by pressing white or red light buttons on a small device in front of them. As soon as a referee has judged a lift as correctly completed, he or she will press the white light button, or, if the attempt is incorrect or missed, the red light button.

A main scoreboard on the wall helps spectators to follow the progress of the competition by indicating all the important data on the lifters, the progress of the competition, and the actual ranking in that particular competition.

Multi-video Screen Replays of the lifts in slow motion from different angles are presented to the public and the Jury after each attempt, to allow for better observation of the athletes’ movements – which are very fast in real time.

Since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, men have competed in eight weight categories and women in seven:


+ 105kg men

105kg men

56kg men

62kg men

69kg men

77kg men

85kg men

94kg men


+ 75kg women

48kg women

53kg women

58kg women

63kg women

69kg women

75kg women

Turkey’s Naim Suleymanoglu and Halil Mutlu have each won three gold medals – as have Greece’s Pyrros Dimas and Kakhi Kakhiasvilis.

Hungarian weightlifter Imre Földi and Germany’s Ronnie Weller and Ingo Steinhöfel hold a special record: they participated in the Olympic Games five times.

In women’s weightlifting, China’s Chen Yanqing and Liu Chunhong have both won two gold medals.


Wrestling is a sport in which two contestants try to force each other’s shoulders to the floor, thus scoring a fall and winning the match. Points are awarded for various holds and techniques during the bout, and if neither wrestler can score a fall within the time limit, the competitor with the most points wins.

Wrestlers compete in weight classes, which ensure that opponents are approximately the same size and weight. All wrestling matches are supervised by officials, who enforce the rules.

With the possible exception of athletics, wrestling is recognized as the world’s oldest competitive sport. Cave drawings of wrestlers have been found dating as far back as 3000 BC. The sport was introduced into the ancient Olympics in 708 BC.

Greco-Roman Style

In Greco-Roman wrestling, the wrestlers use only their arms and upper bodies to attack, and can only hold those same parts of their opponents.

When the modern Olympic Games resumed in Athens in 1896, Greco-Roman wrestling was considered to be a pure revival of the ancient Greek and Roman wrestling traditions.


In freestyle wrestling – a much more open form – wrestlers may use their arms and legs, and may hold their opponents above or below the waist.

In both Greco-Roman and freestyle, competitors wear boots of soft leather, with no heels or studs, and a wrestling suit, made of stretch material. The suit must be either red or blue.

The 1900 Games were the only ones where wrestling was not present in any shape or form.

At St. Louis in 1904, Olympic officials added freestyle wrestling, commonly known as “catch as catch can”, to the program.

Freestyle wrestling was not included in the 1912 Games, but since the 1920 Games in Antwerp, it has been present at every edition of the Games. Both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling competitions have featured since the 1920 Games, in Antwerp.

Today, the nations dominating this sport are the Russian Federation, closely followed by the USA in freestyle wrestling. Iran, Turkey and Mongolia – countries in which wrestling is the national sport – also feature prominently.

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the Greco-Roman wrestling program was modified. Only eight weight categories are now represented in each style, as opposed to the 10 that had been included since the 1972 Games in Munich. Since the 2004 Games in Athens, men have competed in only seven weight categories.

The reduction in the number of categories from 10 to seven in freestyle wrestling allowed for the introduction of women’s wrestling in 2004, at the Athens Games, where there were four women’s events on the program.

The Japanese women won medals in each category, while the USA and France won two medals each. The first medal was won by Ukraine’s Irini Merlini, who dominated her four opponents in the 48kg category and went on to win the final, by tie-break.

The schedule of bouts for London 2012 looks something like this:

Wrestling Greco-Roman


– 55kg men

55 – 60kg men

60 – 66kg men

66 – 74kg men

74 – 84kg men

84 – 96kg men

96 – 120kg men

Wrestling Freestyle


– 55kg men

55 – 60kg men

60 – 66kg men

66 – 74kg men

74 – 84kg men

84 – 96kg men

96 – 120kg men


– 48kg women

48 – 55kg women

55 – 63kg women

63 – 72kg women

Well, that’s the ol’ VW.

And that’s the whole of our show. Xeroxing, Yak racing, and Zeppelin flying didn’t make the shortlist, so the Olympic alphabet ends here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. Hope you enjoy the Games of London 2012 even more.