The 2012 Olympic Games in London open on Saturday morning with a lavish ceremony directed by Danny Boyle - followed by three weeks of events jammed so tightly into the schedule that Sky TV has dedicated eight channels to making sure every event is aired here in New Zealand AND they've halted everything on Prime to make sure a large chunk of the Games is free-to-air.
Stuff has an entire sport section dedicated to covering the athletes and events. I'm more interested in what the most interesting to watch events might be.
Here are 12 events I'll be making sure to watch at London 2012 ...
Women's Individual Foil: Sky Sport 4, July 29, 4.55am (Prime, 11.15am)
Men's Individual Foil: Sky Sport 11, August 1, 4.55am
I am a sucker for fencing: it's one of the most traditional events at the Games and is steeped in strategy and intensity, making it engrossing to watch. Plus, you have to love a sport which the writers on Hounds deemed worthy of satire; at the very least, we might meet an intense, moody, Guy Williams-esque fencer from some random eastern European country.
Rowing - Men's Single Sculls
Final: Sky Sport 6, August 3, 8.25am (Prime, 8.35pm)
I don't think I'm cheering for any Kiwi athlete as much as I am for Mahe Drysdale - like everyone else watching in 2008, I was heartbroken when illness took its toll on Drysdale and forced the favourite for the men's single sculls into third place. Bronze is nice, but I think we all want to see Mahe take out the gold this year.
Men's Qualification: Sky Sport 6, August 4, 12.55am (Prime, 11.20am)
Women's Qualification: Sky Sport 6, August 5, 12.50am (Prime, 2.45pm)
The perfect event if you're nine years old. Or have the mental acuity of a nine-year-old. Or just enjoy bouncy things. Or just want to stare at your TV and wonder what led an athlete to this particular sport while remembering how much fun trampolining was as a kid.
Athletics - Men's 400m
Round 1: Sky Sport 4/Prime, August 6, 5.45am
I'm not usually interested in running events, but I can't resist the chance to see South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius - nicknamed "Blade Runner" (which is as cool a nickname as anyone could have), Pistorius is the first double-amputee to compete on the track at the Olympics. He's as inspiring as any Olympic athlete in my lifetime. Plus, the man is nicknamed after one of the greatest films ever made. I can't wait to see what he can do on the world stage.
Athletics - Men's 100m
Final: Sky Sport 4/Prime, August 6, 5.45am
One race to decide who the fastest man on the planet is? I'm in.
Athletics - Women's Shot Put
Final: Sky Sport 9/Prime, August 7, 6.10am
Barring an injury, the appearance of a super-powered Czech, or some other freak occurrence, Kiwi athlete Valerie Adams should defend her Olympic title and walk away with another gold medal. One of this country's greats.
Cycling - BMX
Women's Seeding Run: Sky Sport 5th, August 9, 1.55am (Prime, 4.15am)
Another medal hopeful, Kiwi rider Sarah Walker will be in action as BMX makes its second appearance at the Games. You can argue all you like about whether BMX should even be featured at the Olympics - all I know is that it's the most exciting of the cycling events, and New Zealand boasts one of the best riders in the world.
Women's Final: Sky Sport 7, August 10, 7.00am (Prime, 4.00pm)
Men's Final: Sky Sport 8, August 13th, 2.50am
For sheer physicality, you can't go past water polo - a sport in which competitors try to throw a ball into a three-metre-wide net while treading water in a 1.8m-deep pool. You know how you can be sitting and watching the Olympics for two straight weeks and start thinking to yourself "y'know, I reckon I could give this sport a good go"? Out of the many events at the Games, I feel this would be the hardest to just jump into. It seems it has the highest degree of difficulty.
Women's Teams Technical Routine: Sky Sport 5, August 10, 2.00am
Synchronised swimming is equal parts hilarious and baffling: like water polo, it has a high degree of difficulty due to the water-treading aspect, except every team seems to be trying to recreate Eskimo Joe's From the Sea music video. At least, that's what it looks like to me.
Individual All-Around Qualification: Sky Sport 6, August 10, 10.55pm (Prime, August 11, 2.15am)
There's just something captivating about rhythmic gymnastics. The perfect event for blobbing out on the couch, turning off your brain, and watching athletes compete at something that will make you audibly gasp on occasion while making no sense whatsoever. I mean, unless you actually are a rhythmic gymnast. But I'm yet to meet one.
Men's: Sky Sport 8, August 12, 11.45am (delayed)
Women's: Sky Sport 9, August 13, 4.45am (delayed)
If you're unfamiliar with the modern pentathlon, athletes have to compete at fencing, swimming, equestrian, running and shooting over the course of a single day. There are two reasons I enjoy the modern pentathlon: 1) since it goes for an entire day, there is a high chance you'll see an athlete who falls so far behind the lead that they completely lose the will to live (always entertaining and heartbreaken in equal measure), and 2) if The Bourne Identity was turned into a sporting event, it would look like this. I guess I'm saying that if you pretend the competitors are CIA or MI6-trained spies, modern pentathlon can be a lot of fun.
Men's Final: Sky Sport 9, August 13, 1.50am
Basketball is one of my favourite spectator sports. A finals berth for the USA - led by the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant - seems a certainty. The interesting part is who they'll be facing up against. The betting favourite is Spain, who boast their own NBA stars in Pau and Marc Gasol, but you can't count anyone out. Still, no matter who faces off for gold, it's always one of the most exciting and passionate events at the games.
What events are you looking forward to at this year's Olympic Games?
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