Top 10 Most Memorable Seasons by MLB Teams En Route to the Playoffs (Written in 2012)

Abstract: Major League Baseball has a rich and storied history. Here are the top 10 most memorable regular season performances by baseball clubs en route to the playoffs.

Major League Baseball can point to its rich and storied history, which dates to before the first World Series in 1903. Over the years, a number of baseball clubs have gained fame for their memorable regular-season performances en route to the playoffs. Some of these teams made history because they overcame long odds to reach the postseason. Other squads are remembered because they dominated the competition on their way to the playoffs.

Here are the top 10 most memorable regular-season performances by baseball clubs en route to playoff appearances:

1. New York Yankees, 1998: The Yankees set an American League record by winning 114 games in the regular season. Yankees fans had much to be proud of that year, as their team would go on to win the World Series.

2. Tampa Bay Rays, 2011: The Rays were nine games behind the American League wild-card leader--the Boston Red Sox--as late as September and looked to be out of the postseason hunt. Instead, the Rays became the first club in Major League Baseball's history to overcome a nine-game deficit in September to reach the playoffs. The Rays clinched the wild-card berth on the final day of the season. The team did it in grand fashion by coming back from seven runs down to beat the New York Yankees 8-7 in extra innings.

3. Chicago Cubs, 1906: The Cubs finished the 1906 regular season with 116 wins and 36 losses. No major league team since that time has topped the Cubs' .763 winning percentage. Unfortunately, the Cubs could not parlay that tremendous regular season record into postseason success. The club lost the World Series to its crosstown rival, the Chicago White Sox.

4. St. Louis Cardinals, 2011: Most people who took a look at the major league standings on Aug. 25, 2011, probably thought that the Cardinals' season was over. At that time, the team was 10.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the National League's wild-card spot. Amazingly, the Cardinals would go on to win 23 of their last 31 games and secure a ticket to the playoffs (and eventually win the World Series).

5. Seattle Mariners, 2001: The Oakland Athletics capped off a superb year in 2001 by winning 102 games. However, the team finished an amazing 14 games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners. The Mariners set an American League record by winning 116 games.

6. Boston Braves, 1914: The Braves had finished 31.5 games behind the league winner in 1913. The team seemed to be heading for a similar fate in mid-July 1914. The club was ranked dead last in the National League. The Braves would go on an amazing run during the latter part of the season to win both the league pennant and the World Series.

7. Colorado Rockies, 1995: The club played its first major league game in 1993. The Rockies made it to the playoffs in the 1995 season. No other expansion club up to that point had reached the playoffs in such a short time span.

8. Arizona Diamondbacks, 1999: Under manager Buck Showalter, the Diamondbacks made history by reaching the playoffs in only the club's second year in existence.

9. New York Mets, 1969: In previous seasons, the Mets had been the epitome of a bad team. Few people expected the club to do anything of note in 1969. The Mets surprised everyone by winning 100 games and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The squad was not done. It went on to win the World Series in that year.

10. Montreal Expos, 1981: Fans of the Expos were ecstatic when the team made its first and only appearance in the playoffs in 1981. Perhaps the club, now called the Washington Nationals, will secure its second postseason berth ever in 2012.


Major League Baseball's official website
Baseball Reference

The author has been following Major League Baseball since he was a child and is a fan of the Atlanta Braves.

-- Anthony Hopper

#baseball #MLB #history #sports #sportshistory #baseballhistory #Braves #Mets #Expos #Mariners #playoffs #Cardinals #Cubs #Rays #Yankees

NFL Stadium Guide: Carolina Panthers (Written in 2012/2013)

Abstract: This stadium guide provides fans of the Carolina Panthers with pertinent information on Bank of America Stadium.

The Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (1)
The Carolina Panthers are my second most favorite team behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have visited Bank of America Stadium on several occasions to watch the Panthers play football. The stadium is only about a three and half hour drive from my current residence. I love the stadium's design. Regardless of where I sit, I always feel like I have a great view of the field.

I have created a stadium guide for fans of the Carolina Panthers. The guide contains pertinent information on a range of topics related to the team's home stadium.

Stadium Name: Bank of America Stadium
Location: Charlotte, NC (located in downtown Charlotte)
Stadium Dimensions: Bank of America Stadium is approximately a half mile in circumference and 180 feet high from the field to the top of the scoreboard. It is an open air stadium and is divided into three tiers.
Maximum Capacity: 73,778 people
Wheelchair Seating: 1394 wheelchair ready spots located throughout the stadium.
Year Built: 1996
Parking: Fans attending the game can park at a variety of lots and parking garages located near the stadium. The parking fees vary by lot. There are over 30,000 parking spaces located within a mile or so of the stadium.
Handicap Parking: Bank of America Stadium does not have handicapped parking spaces. However, disabled individuals can park in Lot B at the Carolinas Medical Center, located at 1000 Blythe Boulevard. They can then take a shuttle to and from the game. This service costs $20.00 per vehicle.
Rail Service: Fans can park at several locations in Charlotte and ride the LYNX rail service into downtown. At least three of the train stops are within a few blocks of the stadium.
Food: 429 fixed concession stands, located throughout the stadium, offer the standard ballpark foods, including hotdogs, hamburgers, and pizza. I can state from personal experience that the food is pretty good.
Alcohol: The stadium does serve beer. However, the park's vendors will stop selling alcohol at the end of the third quarter.
Prohibited Items: The list is long. It includes, among other things, video cameras, large bags, alcohol, umbrellas, laptops, beach balls, balloons, strollers, and pets. The Panthers also reserve the right to prohibit patrons from bringing banners and signs into the stadium at the team's discretion.
ATM Machines: 8 machines located at various places within the stadium.
Traffic: From experience, I can say that traffic heading to the stadium will be heavy on game days. People need to take this fact into consideration when planning a trip to a Panthers' game.


1. Capps, Wayne. (September, 10, 2006). The Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. as seen 
          from the flight deck of a C-17 Globemaster III. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.  The
          photographer/author's photo is in the public domain because it is the work of a U.S. serviceman
          taken or made as part of that person's official duties.

The Carolina Panthers' official website
PSL Source

The author's second most favorite team is the Carolina Panthers. He has traveled to Bank of America Stadium several times to watch the Panthers play.

-- Anthony Hopper

#football #NFL #CarolinaPanthers #Carolina #Panthers #stadiums #guide #sports


Top 25 Worst Looking Uniforms Worn by Pro Sports Teams in Years Past (Written in 2012)

Abstract: This article provides a brief description of 25 of the worst looking uniforms that have been worn by professional sports teams in baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. All of these outfits have been retired.

I have had the chance to view countless sports uniforms in person, on television, and on news sites. Most of the time, I like what I see. However, I occasionally espy an outfit that should never have made it out of the drawing room.

Here are 25 of the worst uniforms ever created for a professional sports team (in baseball, basketball, football, and hockey).

Thankfully, many of these outfits have not seen the light of day in decades.

1. Green Bay Packers' Blue and Yellow, 1929: I have to agree with the masses on this one. The blue uniform with the yellow circle in its middle is downright ugly.

2. Minnesota North Stars' Green, Gold, and White, 1967: The version of this uniform with a tie-up collar is truly hideous.

3. Houston Astros' Multi-color, 1975-1979: The team struck out when it created this monstrosity. The color scheme is awful.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates' Yellow with Black Lines, 1925-1928: The hockey jersey's color and design are both atrocious.

5. Chicago Staleys' Blue and Yellow, 1921: The uniform that the Staleys (now the Chicago Bears) wore for the 1921 season does the vertical stripe an injustice.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers' Red and Gold, 1981-1984: This uniform is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

7. Vancouver Canucks' Yellow, Red, and Black, 1978-1985: The "V" on this uniform does not stand for victory. The color scheme is atrocious.

8. Providence Steam Roller's Black and Orange, 1928: This football team did not last long and neither did its uniform.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates' Gold with Black Stripes, 1933-1934: The Pirates were the forerunners of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. This is one uniform that does not look good in stripes.

10. Seattle Mariners' Blue and White, 1977-1981: This home uniform gets two thumbs down from me. The color scheme is bad, but the logo is even worse.

11. Chicago Blackhawks' Tan, Red, and Chocolate, 1935-1937: The pattern and colors might be great for a throw rug but not for a hockey uniform.

12. Chicago White Sox's Red, White, and Blue, 1984: This uniform is great--for laughs.

13. Philadelphia 76ers' Blue with White Lettering, 1966-1970: Some uniforms achieve perfection by keeping things simple, but not this one.

14. Iowa Barnstormers' Black and Gold, 1995-2000: Some people might be fond of the various logos imprinted on the Arena League team's uniform. I find them to be kind of tacky. The organization apparently agrees with me. It removed the wings and helicopter propeller from the outfit in 2008.

15. Montreal Maroons' White and Maroon, 1935-1938: This hockey uniform may have been stylish in the 1930s, but it receives a poor grade from me.

16. Boston Red Sox's Red and White, 1907-1910: The color scheme is OK. However, the stocking in the chest area is an epic fail.

17. Hamilton Tigers' Yellow and Black Stripes, 1920-1921: Yet another team that commits a uniform faux passé by choosing a poorly considered striped pattern.

18. Washington Redskins' Red, White, and Brown, 1948: The reddish top does not go well with the yellowish-brown pants.

19. Chicago Cardinals' Brown and Red, 1921-1922: This uniform's red and brown color scheme is drab and unimaginative. The pants come up a bit too high as well.

20. St. Louis Blues' Red and Blue, 1995-1998: Blue and red do not always go well together.

21. Washington Nationals' White, 1924: Where are the colors?

22. Washington (Bullets) Wizards' Blue, Red, and White, mid-1980s: This one is a dud.

23. Colorado Rockies' Blue, Yellow, and Red, 1977-1982: Colorado was once home to an NHL team called the Rockies (now the New Jersey Devils). The squad's home uniform leaves something to be desired.

24. Montreal Allouettes' Red and White, 1946-1969: This uniform does not score many style points with me.

25. Toronto Argonauts' White with a Touch of Blue and Black, 1976-1988: The Argonauts' away uniform is a yawner.


The Grid Iron Uniform Database
The Hockey Uniform Database

The author is an avid sports fan. His favorite teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers (in football) and the Atlanta Braves (in baseball).

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #sportshistory #history #baseball #MLB #football #NFL #basketball #AFL #NBA #hockey #NHL

Top 25 Uniforms Worn by Professional Sports Teams of the Past (Written in 2012)

Abstract: This article provides a brief description of 25 of the coolest looking uniforms that have been worn by professional sports teams in the United States and Canada. Teams no longer wear these outfits except on special occasions.

Dolphins vs. Bills 11/11/07 (1)
I have seen countless sporting events over the course of my lifetime. I love watching thrilling contests and exciting finishes. I also pay attention to the outfits that the teams wear. Squads can score some extra points in my book if their players don great looking uniforms.

Here are 25 of the coolest uniforms that have been worn by professional sports teams (in baseball, basketball, football, and hockey) throughout the years. Some of these outfits have not been used on a regular basis in decades, but that fact does not tarnish their appeal.

1. Miami Dolphins' Orange and White, 2003-2004, 2009-2010: The Dolphins have only worn these alternate uniforms a few times. That is a pity, since this is the best outfit in the team's wardrobe.

2. Los Angeles Kings' Gray and White, 1996: This jersey did not last for more than one season, but I think it should have hung around a bit longer. The portrait on the chest area has an odd appeal, and the color scheme is somber yet creative.

3. Milwaukee Mustangs' Purple, Teal, and White, 1994-2001: Arena League officials listed this uniform as the 12th best AFL jersey of all time. I think it should rank first. The color combination is excellent, and the horse insignia is classic.

4. St. Louis Cardinals' Powder Blues, 1976-1984: The Cardinals' team logo fits perfectly within its powder blue background.

5. Minnesota Muskies, White with Blue, 1967-1968: The Minnesota Muskies of the American Basketball Association did not stay in Minneapolis for long, yet the team left a lasting impression with this uniform. It is beautiful in its simplicity.

6. Denver Broncos' Yellow and Brown, 1960-1961: Some people might not like these yellow and brown home uniforms. However, I think they are snazzy. The striped socks add an extra touch.

7. Milwaukee Brewers' Powder Blues, 1978-1986: This uniform adds just the right amount of yellow and dark blue to its powder blue base.

8. California Golden Seals' Teal, White, and Yellow, 1974-1976: The Seals, now the NHL's Dallas Stars, dug deep into a book of colors to create this home uniform. It has a sort of 1970s type appeal to it.

9. Montreal Alouettes' Red, White, and Blue 2001-2011: The Alouettes of the Canadian Football League somehow managed to find a way to mix three boring colors into a pot and come out with one cool home uniform. The team made a few changes to the jersey for the 2012 season.

10. Indiana Pacers' Blue with Yellow, 1967-1976: Another uniform that is cool because it is simple. The jersey adds just enough yellow to ensure it is not too blue.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Orange and White, 1977-1984: The Buccaneers did not always win a lot of games during this period, but it was not because of their uniforms.

12. Atlanta Hawks' Red and Black, 1995-1999: The best part about this jersey is the basketball-carrying hawk image emblazoned on its front.

13. Toronto St. Patricks' Green and White: 1922-1925: The NHL team, now referred to as the Toronto Maple Leafs, sported a nice looking green and white uniform once upon a time.

14. Oakland Athletics' White and Green, 1968: The away uniform definitely stands out. The green coloring is pretty cool.

15. Tampa Bay Storm's Multi-Colored, 1991: This jersey took 13th place on the Arena League's top 25 list. I do not see how this uniform ranked that low. Look closely and you will likely find your favorite color, whatever it may be, somewhere on the outfit.

16. New England Patriots' Red and White, and a Little Blue, 1984-1987: This uniform is simple but stylish. It utilizes red, white, and blue colors to perfection. The helmet features a full-bodied patriot logo that captures the team's grit and determination.

17. Kansas City Monarchs' Pinstripes, 1951-1952: The Kansas City Monarchs played in the Negro League. I would argue that the team's uniform makes great use of pinstripes.

18. Detroit Pistons' Teal, Black, Yellow, and Red, 1996-2000: The uniform sports some cool colors and a great logo.

19. Tampa Bay Lightning's Blue and Black, 1996-1999: This blue and black alternate jersey sports some cool graphics. The designs blend in with the background instead of detracting from it.

20. San Diego Chargers' Powder Blue and Yellow, 1973: The home uniform is colorful but not an eyesore. The powder blue top goes well with the yellow pants and uniform numbers.

21. Winnipeg Jets' White and Blue, 1980-1990: The hockey team's uniform may not seem all that glitzy by today's standards, but it is cool in its own way.

22. Philadelphia Eagles' Yellow and Blue, 1933-1934: The yellow and blue uniform is pleasing to the eyes. The Eagles thought highly enough of this uniform to trot it back out during a 2007 game.

23. San Diego Pardres' Brown, Yellow, and White, 1978: The uniform's brown and yellow top represents a nice change of pace. The shirt goes well with the white pants.

24. The Phoenix Coyotes' Tapestry, 1999-2003: This multicolored ensemble resembles a painting more than it does a uniform. That might be why I like it.

25. Baltimore Orioles' Orange, White, and Black, 1970-1992: This uniform provides a nice contrast to the previous entry. The Orioles were not afraid to bring it back out during one of the team's throwback nights.


1. Enchanteddrmzceo. (2007). Dolphins vs. Bills 11/11/07. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
           The photographer/author has released the photo into the public domain without restrictions.

The Grid Iron Uniform Database
The Hockey Uniform Database
The Baseball Page

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #sportshistory #history #baseball #MLB #football #NFL #CFL #basketball #NBA #hockey #NHL

The Top 10 Headlines that Seem Out of Place at the 2012 Olympics

Abstract: Here are 10 Olympic headlines that, for a variety of reasons, seem out of place at the Summer Games.

The 2012 Summer Olympics have produced a number exciting headlines. Some of the athletes made the news by winning multiple medals. Other Olympians were media darlings because they overcame long odds just to make it to London. A few competitors became front page material when they failed to live up to pundits' expectations. We expect to see these types of stories appear in the news during the Olympic competitions.  However, there are other story-lines that, for a variety of reasons, seem out of place at the Summer Games.

Here are 10 of these narratives:

1. Married but Living Apart: Before the Summer Games began, Australia's Olympic organization decided that two of its married athletes could not room together in the Olympic Village dormitories. The married couple did not take this decision well. The resulting brouhaha made the international headlines. This is probably not an Olympic story that most people would have expected to read about in the news.

2. The Wrong Flag: An untold amount of planning went into making the 2012 Summer Olympics a success. Even with all of this preparation, North Korea's women's soccer team, playing in its first match, was appalled to see the South Korean flag appear next to its players' photographs during the pregame introductions. The North Koreans refused to take the field until the problem was fixed. The snafu and subsequent team protest seem out of place somehow.

3. Gabby Douglas' Hair: The American gymnast won over Americans' hearts by claiming two gold medals in London. Apparently, she disappointed some fans because, of all things, her hair was not to their liking. It is amazing to think that some people would criticize Douglas for such a minor issue, especially given what she accomplished at the Summer Olympics.

4. "McKayla Is Not Impressed": A few moments after she claimed her silver medal in the women's vault competition, American gymnast McKayla Maroney was photographed looking disappointed. Someone digitally inserted this image into famous photos with the caption, "McKayla is not impressed." The images went viral. Maroney was probably not expecting her trip to the Olympics to yield that kind of fame.
5. Twitter Wars: Brandi Chastain, a soccer star turned NBC commentator, supposedly criticized a U.S. women's soccer player during one of NBC's telecasts. The squad's goalie, Hope Solo, took to Twitter to voice her displeasure with Chastain's remarks. Solo's Twitter comments made headlines, but should they have?

6. The Woman on Ryan Lochte's Lap: U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte won five medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Some of the storylines rightly focused on this worthy achievement. However, other media outlets were more interested in figuring out the identity of the woman sitting on Lochte's lap on a ride back from a bar. They were probably disappointed to learn that she was the swimming star's sister.

7. Poor Choice of Words: The U.S. women's soccer team won the gold medal by beating Japan. Immediately after the game, the players put on Nike T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Greatness Has Been Found." Many people in the media criticized this decision. They argued that the slogan on the T-shirts demeaned other teams, and therefore did not conform to the ideal of sportsmanship espoused by the International Olympic Committee.

8. Was It Cheating?: Many Olympics fans were shocked to learn that four women's badminton teams had been disqualified for intentionally trying to give away one of their matches. The athletes may have been justified in attempting to throw their contests, especially if doing so would have given them a better chance of winning a medal. Nonetheless, their actions seemed to go against the Olympic ideal of fair play.

9. The Best Athlete Ever: Jamaican Usain Bolt made history at the 2012 Summer Olympics by winning back-to-back gold medals in both the 100- meter and 200-meter events. He followed those victories up by proclaiming himself the best athlete in history. Even if he were correct, Bolt's proclamation could be seen as an act of poor sportsmanship, which is not in keeping with Olympic ideals.

10. Missing Cameroon Olympians: Seven Cameroon athletes left their country's Olympic team without notice. Some media reports contend that the athletes are attempting to defect from Cameroon to England (or some other country in Europe) in order to secure good paying jobs. That fact may come as a shock to people who do not realize that some Olympic athletes live in poverty.

-- Anthony Hopper

#Olympics #London #SummerOlympics #2012Olympics #SummerGames #games #sports

Summer Olympics: Five Best Summer Olympic Athletes from Virginia (Written in 2012)

Abstract: Numerous Olympic athletes, both past and present, have roots in Virginia. Here is some information on five of the best Olympians to come from the state. The article also lists Olympians with ties to Virginia who are competing in London.
1948 British stamps for the London Olympics (1)

Numerous Olympic athletes, both past and present, have ties to Virginia. Here is some information on five of the best Summer Olympians to come from the state. All of these individuals have won at least one gold medal in the Summer Games. Four of them have won multiple Olympic medals. This article also provides a list of the athletes from Virginia who are participating in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games (and who did not make the top five).

Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas (Two Golds)

Name: Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas
Country: United States
Born: Dec. 31, 1995
Sport: Artistic gymnastics
Connection to Virginia: Born in Virginia Beach, Va. and lived in the state until she was 14.
Olympic Success: Gabby Douglas is part of the women's gymnastics squad, which is competing at the 2012 London Summer Games. While in London, She became the first American gymnast to win a gold medal in both the team competition (with her four teammates) and the individual all-around event. Douglas is also the first African American to win the gymnastics individual all-around event.

Jeffrey (Jeff) Rouse (Three Golds, One Silver)

Name: Jeffrey (Jeff) Rouse
Country: United States
Born: Dec. 6, 1970
Sport: Swimming
Connection to Virginia: Born in Fredericksburg, Va. and currently lives in Stafford, Va.
Olympic Success: Jeff Rouse participated in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where he won a silver medal in the men's 100 meter backstroke and a gold medal in the men's 4X100 meter medley relay. Rouse came back four years later to win gold in both the men's 100 meter backstroke and the men's 4X100 meter medley relay.

Thomas (Tom) Dolan (Two Golds, One Silver)

Name: Thomas (Tom) Dolan
Country: United States
Born: Sept. 15, 1975
Sport: Swimming
Connection to Virginia: Born in Arlington, Va. and currently runs a swim school located in Dulles, Va.
Olympic Success: Tom Dolan competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where he won a gold medal in the men's 400 meter individual medley event. Four years later, at the Sydney Games, he won a second gold in the 400 meter individual medley competition and also snagged a silver medal in the men's 200 meter individual medley race.

Frank Havens (One Gold, One Silver)

Name: Frank Havens
Country: United States
Born: Aug. 1, 1924
Sport: Canoe/Kayak
Connection to Virginia: Born in Arlington, Va.
Olympic Success: Frank Havens was a member of the U.S. canoe team that participated in the 1948 London Summer Olympics. He won a silver medal in the men's Canadian 10,000 meter singles and almost medaled in the men's Canadian 1000 meter singles event (he finished fourth). At the 1952 Helsinki Games, Havens won a gold medal in the men's Canadian 10,000 meter singles competition. He made appearances in the next two Olympics but was not able to medal. The canoe events that were Havens' specialty are no longer part of the Olympic program; however, that fact does not diminish his accomplishments.

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (One Gold)

Name: Benita Fitzgerald Mosley
Country: United States
Born: July 6, 1961
Sport: Track and Field
Connection to Virginia: Born in Warrenton, Va.
Olympic Success: Benita Fitzgerald Mosley won the gold medal in the women's 100 meter hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. In doing so, she became the first African American woman to ever win the event.

Here is a list of the athletes with ties to Virginia, other than Gabby Douglas, who are competing in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.


Will Coleman (U.S.)
Nina Ligon (Thailand)

Field Hockey

Claire Laubach (U.S.)
Caroline Nichols (U.S.)
Shannon Taylor (U.S.)


Giuseppe Lanzone (U.S.)


Matt McLean (U.S.)
Kate Ziegler (U.S.)


Terrence Jennings (U.S.)

Track and Field

T'erea Brown (U.S.)
Francena McCorory (U.S.)
LaShawn Merritt (U.S.)
Kellie Wells (U.S.)


Reid Priddy (U.S.)


Quanitra Hollingsworth (Turkey)

1. British Goverment. (1948). 1948 British stamps for the London Olympics overprinted for use in
         Tangier.  Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.  The British Government has placed this scan
          into the public domain.

-- Anthony Hopper

#SummerGames #SummerOlympics #Olympics #London #sports #history #sportshistory #VA #Virginia #athletes #Olympichistory


Summer Olympics: Best American Swimmers of All Time (Written in 2012)

Abstract: The United States has produced a number of notable Olympic swimmers. Here are 10 of the best American swimmers of all time, as judged by their Olympic performances.

2012 Summer Olympics, Men's 200 m Breaststroke - Heat 5 (1)
Men's swimming made its debut at the first modern Summer Olympics in 1896 and has been an integral part of the Summer Games ever since. In 1912, women's swimming was included in the Olympic program for the first time. Over the years, additional events for both men and women have been added to the roster. The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games feature a total of 36 swimming contests.

The United States has produced a large number of excellent Olympic swimmers over the years. These athletes' efforts have allowed the U.S. to win 489 Olympic swimming medals, which is by far the most of any country. Australia is a distant second with 177 total medals in swimming.

Here are ten of the best American swimmers of all time.

Michael Phelps (Olympics: 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012)

Michael Phelps is one of the greatest Olympians of all time. He has won 22 total medals over the course of his swimming career, which is an Olympic record. What is more, 18 of those medals are gold. That is an amazing figure, given that no other male swimmer in history besides Phelps has managed to win more than nine gold medals. Phelps is only 27 years old and could conceivably add to his medal count if he were to participate in the 2016 Olympics; however, the swimming star has decided to retire at the conclusion of the London Summer Games.

Jenny Thompson (Olympics: 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)

Jenny Thompson is tied with two other American swimmers for the title of most decorated U.S. female Olympian (all three swimmers have 12 medals). More impressive, eight of her 12 medals are gold. Neither of the other two 12-time medal winners has won more than four gold medals.

Mark Spitz (Olympics: 1968, 1972)

Mark Spitz competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. Spitz is one of the best Olympians ever. He won a total of 11 medals (nine golds, one silver, one bronze). Until Michael Phelps came along, Spitz's nine gold medals were the most by any male swimmer. What is perhaps most impressive is that he accomplished all of this before he turned 23. He retired from swimming after the 1972 Munich Games when he was only 22 years old.

Dara Torres (Olympics: 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008)

Dara Torres won 12 Olympic medals (four golds, four silvers, and four bronze medals) over the course of her Olympic career. No other American female swimmer has topped that figure (though two swimmers, Natalie Coughlin and Jenny Thompson have tied it). Torres should receive the most accolades for her ability to win medals in three different decades. She nabbed her first medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and won her last three medals, all silver, at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She was 41 when she accomplished this feat.

Matthew Biondi (Olympics: 1984, 1988, 1992)

Matthew Biondi is one of only three swimmers to capture at least seven gold medals. The other two athletes on this list are Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz. Biondi ended up winning a total of 11 medals over three Olympics. His most impressive outing came during the Seoul Summer Olympics where he won five gold medals and set four world records.

Natalie Coughlin (Olympics: 2004, 2008, 2012)

Natalie Coughlin holds the record (with Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson) for the most medals won by an American female swimmer. She earned her most recent medal, a bronze, on July 28, as part of the U.S. women's 400 meter relay team. While Coughlin's stats are impressive, only three of her medals are gold (four silver and five bronze).

Johnny Weismuller (Olympics: 1924, 1928)

Johnny Weismuller was swimming's first superstar. He competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics and in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. He netted a total of six medals, with five of them being gold. He might not have won as many medals as athletes like Spitz and Phelps, but that was due in large part to the limited number of swimming events on the Olympic programs in the 1920s.

Deborah Meyer (Olympics: 1968)

Deborah Meyer only won three medals; however, they were all gold. More impressively, she earned all of her Olympic medals at the 1968 Summer Games. She was the first woman to garner three individual gold medals at one Olympics. She was only 16 when she accomplished this feat.

Ryan Lochte (Olympics: 2004, 2008, 2012)

Ryan Lochte went into the London Olympics having already won six medals at previous Summer Games. He collected another five medals in London. His total count now stands at five golds, three silvers, and three bronze medals.

Mary Meagher (Olympics: 1984, 1988)

Mary Meagher won three golds, one silver, and one bronze medal over the course of her Olympic career. She likely would have won additional medals if she had been allowed to compete at the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. However, the United States boycotted that Olympics to protest Russia's attack on Afghanistan.


1. Photographer: Sander.v.Ginkel
    Date: July 31, 2012
    Title/Description: Swimming at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Men's 200m Breaststroke heat 5
     Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
     Unported license (click on the title or the caption to see the photo, credits, and permissions).

The Olympic Movement's official website
Sports Reference

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #SummerGames #Olympics #SummerOlympics #history #sportshistory #swimming

The 'Magnificent Seven' vs. 'The Fab Five': 2012 Olympic Champions

Abstract: The American women's gymnastic team has won the gold medal for the first time since 1996. One can see shades of the 1996 squad in the 2012 gymnasts; however, the two teams differ in important ways.

For many years, the United States was an afterthought in women's artistic gymnastics team competitions. Perusing the sport's records, one notes that, from the debut of the women's event in 1928 until the 1990s, the United States rarely shows up in the medal standings.

1996  Summer Olympic Games Torch (Replica) [1]
For most of this period, the best gymnasts usually hailed from various parts of the old Soviet Union, from the Czech and Slovak Republics, and from Romania. That situation changed at the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996 when the U.S. women finally broke through and won a gold medal in the team competition. They did not accomplish this feat again until 2012. The two gymnastic squads share things in common; however, they are also different in some key respects.

Here are five key similarities and five differences between the 1996 U.S. squad, nicknamed the "Magnificent Seven," and the one that recently won the team competition at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the "Fab Five."


Gold Medal: The United States won the gold medal in the women's gymnastics team competition in 1996 with the Magnificent Seven and again in 2012 with the Fab Five. The Magnificent Seven and the Fab Five share something else in common: They are the only women's squads to win a gold medal in the gymnastics team event.

Teenagers: Every member of the 1996 women's team was under 20 when they competed in Atlanta. The oldest member of the team, Domonique Dawes, did not turn 20 until Nov. 20, 1996, which was well after the Atlanta Games ended. Like their Magnificent Seven counterparts, all of the individuals on the Fab Five are also under 20 years of age. The team's captain, Aly Raisman, is only 18 years old.

California Well Represented: Both the Magnificent Seven and the the Fab Five were well represented by Californians. Two of the seven members of the 1996 squad, Amy Chow and Domonique Moceanu, were from California. Coincidentally, two of the women on the 2012 U.S. women's gymnastics team, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, hail from California.

Same Ending: The team standings in 1996 and in 2012 are exactly the same. The United States won gold, Russia earned the silver medal, and the Romanians came away with bronze.

All-Around Heartbreak: In the 1996 Olympics, Kerri Strugg was selected to represent the United States in the individual all-around gymnastics competition. However, she had to withdraw from that event when she injured herself during the team competition. Jordan Wieber's tale is just as sad in some ways. Wieber, who many considered to be the most talented member of the 2012 U.S. squad, finished fourth in all-around qualifying but was not able to compete in the finals of the event because two of her American teammates, Aly Raisman and Gabrielle Douglas, finished ahead of her. Only two gymnasts from each country are allowed to compete in the individual all-around finals.


The U.S. Dominated in 2012: The Magnificent Seven could have lost the Olympic team competition if it were not for the fact that an injured Kerri Strug somehow managed to land her final vault. She scored just enough to allow the Americans to come away with the gold medal. By contrast, the Fab Five dominated their competition. They beat the Russians by 5.066 points, which is a fairly large margin in gymnastics.

Home vs. Away: The Magnificent Seven had a significant advantage in the 1996 Olympics. They did not have to leave the United States in order to compete in the Summer Games, which were held in Atlanta, Ga. By contrast, the 2012 squad had to travel halfway across the Atlantic Ocean to London, England.

All-Around Gold: The Magnificent Seven may have been fabulous in the team competition; however, none of the members of that squad were able to win a medal in the individual all-around event. By contrast, the Fab Five not only won the gold in the team competition, one of their members, Gabrielle Douglas, snagged the gold medal in the individual all-around contest.

State of U.S. Gymnastics: The Magnificent Seven are still remembered in part because they were an aberration, at least at the time. Up to that point, the American women had rarely found themselves on the medal stand at the end of the team competition (though they did win a bronze medal in 1992). Since 1996, the United States has medaled in the women's gymnastics team event at every Olympics. Unlike the Magnificent Seven, the Fab Five could look back at their country's recent gymnastic past and draw inspiration from it.

Styles Change: Compare this video of the 1996 squad with these photos of the 2012 team, and you will notice some differences. For one thing, the white uniforms with a stars and stripes imprint, worn by the Magnificent Seven (at least during the team competition) differ significantly from the red uniforms donned by the Fab Five for its team event. Hairstyles have changed as well.


The Olympic Movement's official website
The official website of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games

1. Cliff. (2008, Sept. 28). 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games Torch (Replica). Retrieved from
     Wikimedia Commons (see linked title for photo/credits).  The author has released this image
     into the public domain via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

-- Anthony Hopper

#gymnastics #Olympics #SummerGames #London #U.S. #games #SummerOlympics #sports #history #sportshistory

2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Rafael Nadal, Spanish Tennis Player

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Olympic men's tennis tournament is right around the corner. Get to know Rafael Nadal, who is one of the favorites to win a medal in the tennis competition.

Per the official website of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the Olympic tennis tournaments will take place between Saturday, July 28, and Sunday, Aug. 5. The sport debuted at the first modern Summer Olympics in 1896; however, it was removed from the list of events after the 1924 Paris Olympics. Tennis was reintroduced at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games. The events consist of men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles. A country is only allowed to enter a maximum of 12 athletes (6 men and 6 women) in the tennis competitions, though its players can compete in more than one event.

Most of the world's best tennis players will compete in at least one of these events. Rafael Nadal is a favorite to win an Olympic medal in tennis at the London Games. Here is more information on the Spaniard.

All of the data comes from the ATP World Tour's official website unless otherwise noted.

Full Name: Rafael Nadal Parera

Nickname: Rafa

Country: Spain

Age: 26

Height: 6 feet, 1 inches

Weight: 188 pounds

Coach: Toni Nadal (Rafael's uncle)

Ambidextrous: Rafael Nadal plays tennis left-handed; however, he uses his right hand when writing.

Hometown: He was born in the city of Manacor, located on the Spanish island of Mallorca. He still calls that city home.

Personal Website:

Twitter Name: @RafaelNadal

Hobbies: Fishing, golf, video games, and movies (per Reuters)

Rafa Nadal Foundation: Per its official website, Rafael Nadal helped to found the Rafa Nadal Foundation in November 2007. The non-profit organization helps children and teenagers who suffer from social discrimination. The foundation achieves its mission by using sports to help deprived children develop the social skills necessary to succeed.

Professional Success: Rafael Nadal turned pro in 2001. Since that time, he has won 50 tournaments and has earned over $50 million in prize money. Per Sports Illustrated, Nadal has won 11 Grand Slam titles, including seven French Open championships, two Wimbledon tournaments, one U.S. Open title, and one Australian Open championship. He is currently ranked third in the world.

Olympics: According to Reuters, Rafael Nadal competed in the 2004 Olympics (in men's doubles) but did not medal. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nadal won the gold medal in men's singles. He will try to earn his second gold medal in the event at the London Olympics; however, per The Guardian, a knee injury may hamper his ability to achieve this feat.

-- Anthony Hopper

#Spain #tennis #Olympics #SummerOlympics #games #SummerGames #sports

2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Neymar, Brazilian Soccer Player

Abstract: The Olympic men's soccer tournament starts on Thursday, July 26, and the team from Brazil has a good chance to win a gold medal. Get to know more about Neymar, a key member of Brazil's Olympic soccer team.

Per the official website of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the first men's soccer matches will take place on Thursday, July 26, which is one day before the Olympic Games officially begin. The soccer tournament will conclude on Saturday, August 11. 16 men's teams (one per country) will compete in the event. All but three of the players on each squad have to be under 23 years of age. The soccer contests will take place at a number of different stadiums located throughout Britain.

As ESPN notes, Brazil's soccer team is a favorite to win the gold medal. Some of the best young players in the world are members of this squad. One of them is Neymar. This article provides some information on Neymar that may be useful to anyone who plans to follow the Olympic soccer matches.

All of the information comes from ESPN Soccernet unless otherwise noted.

Full Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

Country: Brazil

Age: 20

Position: Forward

Height: 5 feet, 9 inches

Birthplace: Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo (province), Brazil

First Name Only: Per The New York Times, it is customary for individuals in Brazil to use only one name. That is the reason that Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is simply referred to as Neymar by the media.

Twitter Name: @Njr92

Motto: The motto on Neymar's twitter page is, "Feliz, Ousado, Pai e Filho de Deus!" The phrase in English means "Happy, Bold, Father and Son of God!"

Personal Website:

Idol: Growing up, Neymar idolized Brazilian soccer star, Robinho (per The New York Times)

Phenom: Many soccer experts think that Neymar has the potential to develop into one of the best players ever.

Children: Neymar has one child, a boy named Davi (per The New York Times).

Professional Career: Neymar was signed by Santos in 2003 and has been part of its farm system since that time. He made his debut with Santos FC in 2009 and played so well that he quickly attracted the attention of some large European teams. For instance, in 2010, Chelsea offered him a significant sum of money to join its squad. For now, Neymar has decided to remain with Santos FC.

Favorite Foods: Besides traditional dishes, Neymar likes Italian and Japanese foods (per The New York Times).

Olympics: Neymar will be making his first appearance in the Olympic Games.

-- Anthony Hopper

#Brazil #Olympics #SummerGames #SummerOlympics #games #sports #soccer

2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Andrei Kirilenko, Russian Basketball Player

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Olympic men's basketball competition is right around the corner. The Russian team will be in the tournament this time around. Get to know one of Russia's star basketball players, Andrei Kirilenko.

Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will start soon, and basketball will once again be one of the medal events.

Twelve teams (one per country) are entered in the men's Olympic basketball tournament, which begins on Sunday, July 29. They are divided into two groups of six teams. Each squad will play all the other teams in its pool. Teams will earn two points for every win and one point for each loss. The top four squads from each division qualify for the single elimination playoffs. The competition will be fierce as some of the best players in the world vie for Olympic glory.

Russia is one of the 12 nations that will take part in the Olympic men's basketball tournament. Per the official website of the Olympic Movement, the country has not won a medal in men's basketball since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Russian team hopes to end that streak at the London Olympics. Get to know Andrei Kirilenko, one of the key players on Russia's men's basketball team.

All of the data comes from the NBA's official website unless otherwise noted.

Name: Andrei Kirilenko
Country: Russia
Age: 31 (born Feb. 18, 1981)
Height: 6 feet 9 inches
Position: Forward
Birthplace: Izhevsk, Russia
Wife: Marina (Masha) Lopatova, a Russian singer
Nickname: AK-47
Favorite Hobbies: Playing video games and reading

Charity Work: Andrei Kirilenko has worked with several charities. In fact, The Sporting News crowned him the NBA's No. 1 Good Guy in 2006 due to his philanthropic work.

Interesting Facts: Andrei Kirilenko was the youngest athlete to ever play in the Russian League. He was the first Russian player to be selected in the first round of an NBA draft. He was the youngest player, up to that time, to ever be drafted into the NBA (at 18 years, 4 months, 12 days).

Professional Career: Andrei Kirilenko's professional career began in 1996 when he signed on with a Russian team, Spartak St. Petersburg. In 1998, he joined another Russian team, CSKA. Kirilenko played with CSKA for three seasons, from 1998 through the spring of 2001. In 2001, he was drafted by the Utah Jazz and remained with that team from the fall of 2001 through the spring of 2011. Per the Toronto Sun, Kirilenko rejoined CSKA during the NBA lockout and remained with that team for the entire 2011-2012 season.

Olympic History: According to Basketball Reference, he participated in both the 2000 and 2008 Olympics as a member of the Russian men's basketball team. Russia did not garner a spot in the 2004 Olympic basketball tournament.

-- Anthony Hopper

#basketball #NBA #SummerOlympics #Olympics #London #sports #Russia

2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Pau Gasol, Spanish Basketball Player

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Olympic men's basketball competition is right around the corner. Spain is one of the teams in the tournament and will be looking to take home the gold medal. Get to know one of the Spanish team's star athletes, Pau Gasol.

Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will start on Friday, July 27. The Olympic men's basketball tournament will begin two days later, on Sunday, July 29, and run until Sunday, Aug. 12.
Men's basketball has a long Olympic history, having been introduced as a medal sport at the 1936 Berlin Games. Per USA Basketball, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted a major change to the event in 1992 when it allowed NBA players to take part in the Olympic basketball competitions. This was an important move, because, at that time, many of the best players in the world were in the NBA (and that is still the case today). As a result of the IOC's decision, some countries were able to field much better teams than they had in the past.

NBA players from a number of different countries will take part in the Olympic basketball tournament being held in London. One of these athletes is Spain's Pau Gasol. Here is some information on this Olympic basketball star.

All of the data comes from the NBA's official website unless otherwise noted.

Name: Pau Gasol
Country: Spain
Date of Birth: July 6, 1980
Height: 7 feet
Positions: Forward, center
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain (per NBC)
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, Calif. (per NBC)
Twitter Name: @paugasol
Personal Website:
NBA Brother: Pau Gasol's younger brother, Marc Gasol, plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Multilingual: He speaks English, Spanish, and Catalan.

Philanthropist: Pau Gasol has worked with a number of charities, including UNICEF, Memphis City Schools, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Did You Know?: For most of his youth (until he was about 13 years old), Pau Gasol played point guard.

Professional Career: Per NBC, Pau Gasol began his professional career with the Spanish team, FC Barcelona, in 1999. He played for two seasons with FC Barcelona before moving on to the NBA. He was drafted in the first round in 2001 by the Atlanta Hawks, but was subsequently traded to the Memphis Grizzlies before the season began. The Grizzlies shipped Gasol off to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2007-2008 season, and he has played for that team ever since. He has made three NBA Finals and won two of them during his tenure with the Lakers.

NBA Awards: Rookie of the Year in 2001, selected as an NBA All-Star four times (per NBC), All-NBA Third Team in 2009 and 2010, All-NBA Second Team in 2011.

Career with Spain's Basketball Team: Per NBC, Pau Gasol's first significant stint with the Spanish national basketball team was in 2001. He has represented Spain in most major basketball competitions since that time. In 2006, Gasol helped Spain win a gold medal in basketball at the FIBA World Championships. He was also named MVP of that tournament. The Spanish team, with Gasol on board, won the Eurobasket Championship in 2009.

Olympic History: Per Fox Sports, Pau Gasol played for Spain in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In 2008, his Spanish team won the silver medal.

-- Anthony Hopper

#Spain #basketball #NBA #Olympics #SummerGames #SummerOlympics #sports #games #London #Gasol

2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Five Australian Athletes to Watch

Abstract: Australia will be sending a large contingent of athletes to London for the Summer Olympic Games, which begin on Friday, July 27. Get to know five of these Olympic hopefuls.

Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will start on Friday, July 27 and run through Sunday, August 12. Australia is one of 17 countries from the Oceania region that will take part in the Olympic competitions. The nation made its debut at the Athens Summer Olympic Games in 1896, and, per NBC, is one of only four countries to have fielded a team at every Summer Olympics.

According to the NBC article, Australia has done well at the Summer Olympics over the years, having won 443.5 medals since 1896. Only eight countries have won more Olympic medals. In 2008, Australian athletes outperformed all but four other countries by winning 46 medals at the Beijing Olympics. Per information on its official website, Australia's Olympic team is likely to snag a bevy of medals at the London Olympics.
Here are five Australian Olympic hopefuls that fans should watch during the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. They are representative of the diverse array of experiences and skills possessed by the members of Australia's Olympic squad.

Glenn O'Shea (Men's Cycling-Track)

Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, Glenn O'Shea is only 23 years old and will be making his first trip to the Olympic Games. Nonetheless, he is one of the best cyclists in Australia and has a chance to medal in two Olympic competitions - the men's team pursuit and the men's omnium (in which riders compete in six different events).

Fans of cycling can tune in to watch the Olympics' first ever omnium racing competition. O'Shea placed first in the men's omnium at the 2012 World Championships and is favored to take the gold medal in this multi-event race. O'Shea has an excellent chance to win another medal in men's team pursuit, though its color might not be gold.

Sally Pearson (Women's Track and Field)

Sally Pearson will compete in the 100 meter hurdles at the London Olympics. The Telegraph put her on its list of the 10 Australian athletes who are most likely to leave London with a medal. Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, that is probably the case. Pearson is currently the best in the world in the 100 meter hurdles, having placed first in the event at both the 2011 World Championships and the 2011 World Challenge. In that same year, she won the Female World Athlete of the Year award from the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Fans of Olympic track and field should tune in to watch this Australian athlete in action. They will likely come away impressed with Pearson's speed and agility. The gold medal is hers to lose.

Jamie Dwyer (Men's Field Hockey)

Jamie Dwyer has been part of the Australian national field hockey squad for 10 years and has scored over 170 goals during that period. Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, the 33 year old has been named Best (Field) Hockey Player in the World five times. Dwyer has helped his country's national team win the gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and first place in the 2010 World Cup.

Field hockey fans will want to view the Australian team's matches so they can see Jamie Dwyer's electrifying performances. They will also have the opportunity to watch one of the best men's field hockey teams in the world in action. According to an NBC article, the Australians are favored to win the gold medal at the London Olympics.

Stephanie Rice (Women's Swimming)

As the Australian Olympic team's official website notes, Stephanie Rice is only 24 years old; however, she has already made waves in the swimming world. She won three Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, breaking three world records in the process. She followed up that performance by winning three medals at the 2009 World Championships. An injury in 2010 sidelined her for a while; however she came back to secure a couple of third place finishes at the 2011 World Championships.

At the London Olympics, she will compete in the 400 meter individual medley and the 200 meter individual medley swimming events. According to The Telegraph article, she may also get the chance to participate in a team relay race. She might earn multiple medals in London; however, they probably will not be gold.

Malcolm Page (Men's Sailing)

As The Telegraph article notes, Malcolm Page may be a few years older than many of the other Olympic athletes; however, the 40 year old is still one of the best (if not the best) in the world with regards to the men's 470, a type of sailing contest pitting two-man teams against each other. Per the Australian Olympic team's official website, he and his partner, Matthew Belcher, are currently the top ranked team in the world in the men's 470, having placed either first or second in the last eight major sailing events they have entered.
People interesting in the Olympic sailing events will want to watch the men's 470 competition to see if Malcolm Page can win his second gold medal in a row (he won a gold medal in the event in Beijing). He is the odds on favorite to accomplish that feat.

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #Olympics #SummerOlympics #SummerGames #London #Australia

2012 Summer Olympics Athletes: Five Brazilian Athletes to Watch

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games are almost here. Brazil is one of 41 countries from the Americas who will send athletes to the Summer Olympics. Get to know more about five of Brazil's best Olympians.

Per its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games are almost here. The Olympics will run from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, August 12. Brazil is one of 41 countries from the Americas who will be participating in the Olympics. The nation made its Olympic debut in 1920 and has taken part in 21 Summer Olympic contests (including the upcoming London Olympics). At the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, Brazil's Olympic team brought home 3 golds, 4 silvers, and 8 bronze medals.

Some of Brazil's best athletes will be traveling to London with dreams of achieving Olympic glory. This article provides information on five of the country's top Olympic hopefuls.

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (Men's Soccer)

According to ESPN, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is only 20 years old; however, he has already developed into one of the best soccer players in Brazil. Some experts believe that Neymar might eventually become one of the best strikers of all time. Neymar is not only a gifted dribbler; he is also a great passer (when he chooses to be) and an excellent scorer. The forward will anchor a men's Olympic soccer team that, per an ESPN article, has an excellent chance of taking home the gold medal.

Fans will enjoy watching Neymar's electrifying performances on the soccer field during the Brazilian team's Olympic contests. They just have to hope that the player can avoid the disciplinary problems that have sullied an otherwise amazing career to this point.

Marta Vieira da Silva (Women's Soccer)

Per a BBC article, Marta Vieira da Silva is one of the top athletes to watch at this Olympic Games. She is one of the best female soccer players in the world, as indicated by the fact that she was named FIFA's (women's) player of the year five straight times (2006-2010). In fact, per a CBS article, she is arguably one of the best women's soccer players of all-time. What is perhaps most amazing is that Marta has achieved this level of recognition at a fairly young age; the striker is only 26 years old.

As the CBS article notes, fans of Olympic soccer will want to see the Brazilian team's matches, so they can watch Marta's brilliant performances. At the same time, they can watch one of the best women's soccer teams in action. The Brazilian squad could easily come home from London with a medal, though the color of that token is unlikely to be gold.

Murilo Endres (Men's Volleyball)

According to NBC, Murilo Endres, an outside hitter on the Brazilian men's (indoor sixes) volleyball team, is one of the best volleyball players in the world. Endres is an excellent hitter; however, he is best known for his passing skills. In 2011, he won the Best Receiver award for his play in the World League. In the previous year, he was MVP of the World League.

Fans who tune in to watch the Brazilian men's volleyball team compete during the Olympics will enjoy watching Endres display his passing and hitting skills. However, they will also get the chance to watch one of the best men's volleyball teams in action. According to the Federation de Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the sport's governing body, the Brazil squad is currently ranked first in the world. The team has an excellent chance to win a gold medal at the London Olympics.

Juliana Felisberta da Silva (Women's Beach Volleyball)

Juliana Felisberta da Silva could arguably be the best women's beach volleyball player in the world. Per Beach Volleyball Database, the 28 year old Brazilian athlete received the FIVB's Most Outstanding Player award three years in a row from 2009 through 2011. Additionally, Felisberta and her partner, Larissa Franca, finished as the top seed in Olympic qualifying matches per the FIVB.

Olympic beach volleyball is fun to watch, especially when top players, like Felisberta, are in action. Felisberta and her partner have a good chance of snagging a gold medal while in London; however, they will have to beat some other great teams from countries like China and the United States (per information on the FIVB's website).

Alison Conte Cerutti (Men's Beach Volleyball)

Alison Conte Cerutti, at 26 years old, is one of the best beach volleyball players in the world. Per Beach Volleyball Database, Cerutti has garnered a number of honors in his short career. Most recently, in 2011, he was named the FIVB's best blocker, hitter, and overall offensive player. The young Brazilian and his partner, Emanuel Rego, are the top ranked men's doubles team in the world per the FIVB.

Beach volleyball fans will want to tune in to see if Cerutti and his partner can bring home the gold medal for Brazil. In order to accomplish this feat, they will have to beat some quality teams, including, per the BBC, the American duo of Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser. Rogers and Dalhausser won the gold medal in 2008.

The author is a freelance writer who is an avid fan of the Summer Olympic Games. He played recreational volleyball during his youth and early adulthood, as well as one year of club level volleyball at Roanoke College.

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #volleyball #soccer #SummerOlympics #Olympics #SummerGames #Brazil #London

2012 Summer Olympics U.S. Athletes: David Boudia

Abstract: At the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the men's diving competitions will begin on Sunday July 29 and end on Saturday, August 11.

Per the official website of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the men's diving competitions will begin on Sunday, July 29 and run through Saturday, August 11. The men will compete in four events--3-meter (9.84 feet) springboard, synchronized 3-meter springboard, 10-meter (32.80 feet) platform, and synchronized 10-meter platform. In each event, athletes will try to execute difficult dives as precisely as possible. A 10 is a perfect score.

A total of 68 men from around the world will compete in the diving competitions at the London Summer Olympic Games. One of these individuals is American athlete, David Boudia. Learn more about this competitor by reading the information below.

All of the data comes from USA Diving unless otherwise noted.

Name: David Boudia
Country: United States
Age: 23 (born on April 24, 1989)
Height: 5 feet, 9 inches
Birthplace: Abilene, Texas
Resides: West Lafayette, Ind.
2012 Olympic Competitions: 10 meter platform and synchronized 10 meter platform
Twitter Name: davidboudia
College: Purdue University, where he majored in communications.
Parents: Jim and Sheilagh Boudia

Diving Compared to: Per NBC, David Boudia compares diving to jumping out of a plane.

Quote: "Diving's not an easy sport because you're up thirty-three feet in the air going thirty-five miles an hour. So you have to have some kind of crazy in you." (The quote is from an interview with NBC.)

Hobbies: Reading and playing video games.

College Career: At Purdue, David Boudia competed in NCAA diving competitions and was a six-time NCAA champion. He won both the 3-meter event and the platform competition in 2009. He finished in first place in the 1-meter (3.28 feet) and three meter competitions in 2010 and again in 2011. He was the Big Ten Athlete of the Year (in all sports) in 2011 and the NCAA Diver of the Year in 2009 and 2010.

Career with National Team: David Boudia has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2005 and has won 16 national championships. Over the past few years, he has performed well at international events, placing first, second, or third numerous times in both individual and synchronized 10-meter diving competitions. Most recently, he finished with a bronze medal in the 10-meter platform diving event and (along with his partner, Nick McCrory) a silver medal in synchronized 10-meter platform diving at the 2012 FINA World Series.

Olympic History: David Boudia finished in 10th place in the 10-meter platform diving event and (along with his partner, Thomas Finchum) in fifth place in the synchronized 10-meter diving competition at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.

-- Anthony Hopper

#sports #Olympics #London #US #UnitedStates #diving #SummerGames #SummerOlympics

Five Places to Visit While in London for the 2012 Olympic Games

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will begin on July 27. If you are traveling to London to watch the Olympic Games, you might also think about visiting these five other places.

According to its official website, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games will begin on July 27 and run through August 12. Fans traveling to London to watch the Olympic competitions should make sure they free up time to enjoy some of the many attractions that London and nearby localities have to offer.

When I traveled to London and other parts of England during the summer of my sophomore year in college, I visited many of the popular tourist sites, such as the Tower of London, Big Ben, and the British Museum. However, my most memorable experiences came when I interacted with locals in pubs, on trains, or in stores. I learned as much from these encounters as I did from touring old buildings and perusing museum exhibits.

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of five things that visitors to London can do if they want to truly understand England's history, its food, it culture, and its people. Some of these places are well known, while others are not. All times are based on London time. The prices listed in this article are based on current exchange rates between the British pound sterling and the U.S. dollar; they are subject to change at any time.

Ye Olde Mitre

The best way to learn about another country is to talk to its people. When I was in England, the pubs provided me with excellent opportunities to strike up conversations with local residents. These places also tended to have a great selection of authentic British cuisine. One pub, which people traveling to London for the Olympic Games might want to try, is Ye Olde Mitre. Per its official website, Ye Olde Mitre offers visitors a chance to experience a pub type atmosphere while sampling authentic English foods, like pork pies and scotch eggs. What is more, the building is over 450 years old, and, as The Telegraph notes, it still has many antique features. Visitors can converse with England's modern inhabitants while at the same time connecting with the country's past. Per its website, Ye Olde Mitre is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. It is located on 1 Ely Court, Ely Place in London, which (per MapQuest), is about 16 miles from Heathrow Airport.

Westfield Stratford City

People taking a break from watching the London Olympics might want to stop by Westfield Stratford City Shopping Center. Per an article in The Telegraph, Westfield Stratford City, which covers 1.9 million square feet, is the largest shopping center in Europe. Its official website notes that the building contains 250 retail outlets, 70 eateries, bars, a 17 screen movie theater, a bowling alley, and a casino. Visitors can spend all day perusing the shops and enjoying themselves at the bowling alley or casino. At the same time, tourists who visit Westfield Stratford City will likely get a glimpse of the diverse array of people who call London home. Per its official website, Westfield Stratford City is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is conveniently located next to the Olympic Park.

Highgate Cemetery
A picture of Highgate Cemetery - East by Panyd (1)

I walked through several old cemeteries while in England, which allowed me both to view some historical markers as well as to feel like I was connected in some intangible way with England's past. Visitors to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, who want the same experience, can visit Highgate Cemetery. Per its official website, the graveyard is around 173 years old and serves as the last resting place for a number of prominent individuals, including Karl Marx, Douglas Adams (famous author), and several of Charles Dickens' relatives. The cemetery charges visitors an entry fee of $4.68 for adults and $3.11 for students. Children and teenagers who are under 16 can usually get in for free. There are additional, varying fees for guided tours. Individuals and groups who plan to visit Highgate cemetery on the weekdays and want a guided tour of the place should call 020 8340 1834 at least a week in advance. The cemetery is located on Swain's lane, which (per MapQuest) is only about four miles from Ye Olde Mitre. It is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on weekends from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Hampton Court Palace

When I was in England, I visited several famous attractions located in and around London. However, I was most impressed with Hampton Court Palace. I had the opportunity to tour a site that had hosted monarchs and other important figures. I got a sense of what life was like for people (both highborn and servants) who resided in the palace hundreds of years ago. At the same time, I was struck by the beauty of the architecture, furnishings and grounds. I would recommend Hampton Court Palace to anyone who is traveling to London to watch the Summer Olympic Games. Per its official website, Hampton Court Palace, located in Surrey, England, is only a 35 minute train ride from London Waterloo station. On July 28 and 29, the only way for visitors to reach the palace will be by train, as local roads will be closed for Olympic cycling races. Tickets are approximately $26.32 for adults and $13.22 for children and teenagers under 16 years of age. There are discounts for booking online, for students, and for groups. During the summer, Hampton Court Palace is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last admission time is 5:00 p.m.).

Swan Theater

Anyone visiting London for the Olympic Games (who has some free time) should catch a performance of one of William Shakespeare's plays at the Swan Theater. The theater, located in William Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, is owned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and hosts a number of plays (put on by members of the group). Per the Royal Shakespeare Company's official website, the theater only seats about 450 people. I think its small size provides a more intimate experience for theater goers like me. If you cannot book a spot at the Swan Theater, you may want to see if any spaces are available at the nearby Royal Shakespeare Theater, a larger venue which is also run by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The group also owns a theater in London, which offers a more limited selection of plays. As its website notes, the group is currently performing several Shakespearean plays at its Stratford-upon-Avon locations. It takes about 2 hours to reach the town from London by train.

1. Panyd at en.wikipedia. (2010, September). A Picture of Highgate Cemetery - East. Retrieved from
       Wikimedia Commons (see linked title for photo). The author has released the photo into the
        public domain via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The author is a freelance writer. He has a B.A. in history and took numerous British history courses while an undergraduate in college. He studied in England for six weeks during the summer between his sophomore and junior years in college and spent some time in London. He is also an avid sports fan. The author has been to Hampton Court Palace and the Swan Theater. He plans to visit Ye Olde Mitre, Highgate Cemetery and Westfield Stratford City on his next visit to London.

-- Anthony Hopper

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