How to Watch the Olympics: Scores and laws, heroes and zeros – an instant initiation to every sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton
|How to Watch the Olympics: Scores and laws, heroes and zeros – an instant initiation to every sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The basics that you need to know for every sport in the Summer Olympics 2012: it could make a lot of difference to those seventeen days even if you're only watching from the sofa.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: November 2011|
|Publisher: Profile Books|
Are you planning an Olympic telefest for a few weeks in July 2012? Are you one of the lucky people who have tickets to their chosen events? Or are you one of those many people who are genuinely confused by the rules, or the scoring and who would like to know a little more so that they can understand what it's all about? If so, you should look no further. We have the book for you. Whether you're heading for London or going no further than the television we have the background to the sports.
I'll start with a caveat: this is about the summer Olympics and the winter games are not included. It's a book which should carry over to some extent (the rules might not change but the locations and personalities will) to the next summer Games, but you can put it away when you want to swot up on Super Giant Slalom skiing. It's also about the Olympics (as the title says) rather than the Paralympics. For seventeen days we'll be holding our breath that truces stay firm around the world and that we can indulge ourselves in the best of sport.
Every sport at the summer Olympics is covered in the book and apart from the opening and closing ceremonies and the medals ceremony they're in the book in alphabetical order – although if you're looking for, say, shot put you'll need to know it comes under athletics or to look it up in the index. It's about the disciplines rather than the individual events. I've been right through the book but I thought the best way of assessing it was to look at a sport I know well and another where I'm an innocent.
I've followed diving for decades now. There's a look at the contenders, with the Chinese figuring large in the Beijing Games. Here in the UK we've got great hopes for Tom Daly at the London Games. There's the background to the sport, why you might enjoy it and the basics of what an athlete is looking to perform. Stick men illustrate the basic dives and the positions and rotations. There's enough there for you to follow what's happening particularly with the added detail of the finer points which the judges are looking for and it's all finished off with stories of the great and the good of the sport. It's just eight pages in all but it should be enough to capture your interest.
I like the idea of canoeing but I don't know much about it. It's divided into sprint and slalom with sprint being the older discipline in Olympic terms. Germany was dominant in Beijing and that's apparently unlikely to change, although Russia has a good history. There's a history of the sport and some details of those who have made it famous. In Canoeing Basics there's enough information to let you follow what's going on and I'm pretty confident now that I could recognise an Eskimo roll (I thought it was an ice cream desert…) even if I wouldn't like to tackle it. The distinctions between sprint and slalom are explained (slalom's what happens on white water) and then we're onto the finer points we're to look for. It's eleven pages this time, but in that sort space I know enough to make watching the sport interesting rather than confusing.
I've enjoyed the book and if you're serious about watching the Games it could be your bible for seventeen days. Children who are interested in the Olympics might enjoy The Story of the Olympics by Richard Brassey.
You can read more book reviews and buy How to Watch the Olympics: Scores and laws, heroes and zeros – an instant initiation to every sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton at Amazon and Waterstones.
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