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On your marks - take up an Olympic sport in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 10:07 20 January 2012

Take up an Olympic sport in 2012

Take up an Olympic sport in 2012

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2012 will be a momentous year for British sport as we welcome the world's best athletes to the Olympics. If you're already feeling inspired to try your hand, SIMON PARKIN has a guide to where to start — from archery to wrestling.

ARCHERY

What: The object of the sport is simple: to shoot arrows as close to the centre of a target as possible. Olympic Archery targets are 122 centimetres in diameter, with the gold ring at the centre (worth a maximum 10 points) measuring just 12.2cm. Archers shoot at the target from a distance of 70 metres.

Jargon Busting: A nock is the notch at the end of an arrow that rests against the bow string.

Where: Archery GB should be your target if you fancy trying firing some arrows, with loads in information on the basics, clubs and coaching at archerygb.org. Taverham Archery Club (taverhamarchers.co.uk), based at Eaton College, have both indoor and outdoor targets and beginners courses.

ATHLETICS

What: Athletics is the perfect expression of the Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius — Faster, Higher, Stronger. There are four main strands to athletics: track events, such as the 100m; field events, which include the high jump and the shot put; combined events such as the decathlon, a mix of track and field elements; and road events, among them the ultimate Olympic event — the marathon.

Jargon Busting: Countback is the process used to determine the winner of a high jump or pole vault competition in which two or more athletes are tied.

Where: Norfolk has a large number of athletics clubs and leagues, for more details visit uka.org.uk, while details of facilities can be found at activeplaces.co.uk City of Norwich Athletic Club (conac.org.uk) is based at UEA Sportspark and train here on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.

BADMINTON

What: Badminton is played on a rectangular court split in half by a central net, with singles and doubles events on the Olympic programme. Olympic shuttlecocks weigh between 4.74 grams and 5.5g and contain 16 feathers, each plucked from the left wing of a goose. They can travel at speeds in excess of 400km/h.

Jargon Busting: A lift is a shot played from beneath the height of the net, normally played high to the back of the court.

Where: Badminton is one of those sports that can genuinely be enjoyed at all competitive levels, whatever age or ability. There are details of 10 clubs based in Norwich to be found at playbadminton.co.uk. Meanwhile UEA Sportspark has 12 courts, regular coaching and rackets for hire.

BASKETBALL

What: Basketball is played by two teams of five players on an indoor court that is 28m long and 15m wide. Points are scored by shooting the ball into your opponents’ net (or ‘basket’). Two for a regular shot from open play, with one point for each successful free throw (following an opposition infringement) and three points for a shot from distance.

Jargon Busting: A dunk is a one- or two-handed slam directly into the net.

Where: Most players get their first taste of basketball at public courts in parks or at school. Use activeplaces.org to find a court near you. If you want to join a club, try englandbasketball.co.uk, which has details of more than 20 in Norfolk, plus details of programmes to help start playing.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

What: Beach Volleyball came of age on the sun-soaked beaches of Santa Monica, California, during the 1920s bu only became an Olympic sport at Atlanta in 1996. Similar to the indoor game except it’s played in sand outdoors; and by teams of two, instead of six. The object of the sport is to land the ball in the opposition’s half of the court. Matches are the best of three sets, with 21 points needed to win a set.

Jargon Busting: A setter is the player who ‘sets’ the ball for the attacker, usually on the second of the team’s three permitted shots

Where: Norfolk clubs include Norwich Spikers and Pegasus (both based at UEA Sportspark). More details at volleyballengland.org. In addition Great Yarmouth hosts the Volleyball England Beach Tour every June, offering a chance to see the UK’s best players.

BOXING

What: Since the first Olympic Boxing competition in 1904, many of the sport’s biggest names have come to prominence at the Olympics: Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali; 1960), George Foreman (1968) and Oscar de la Hoya (1992) have all won gold. The 2012 Olympics will feature 10 men’s weight categories, from Light Fly Weight (46-49kg) to Super Heavy Weight (over 91kg), and women’s boxing will feature as a full Olympic medal event for the first time, with medals in three weights.

Jargon Busting: A jab is an arm’s-length, straight-thrown punch.

Where: Boxing is a great way to get fit and learn a new set of skills. Try Bolddog White Collar Boxing Club (bolddog.com) which uses the same boxing gym facilities as Graham Everett and his stable of professional boxers including Jon Thaxton. There are details of more clubs and gyms at www.gbboxing.org.uk

CANOEING

What: There are two Olympic canoe disciplines: slalom and sprint. Canoe slalom competitions consist of timed runs down a white water course, which contains up to 25 gates. Touching a gate adds a two-second time penalty to the run; missing a gate incurs a 50-second penalty. Canoe sprint is head-to-head racing on still water either solo, in pairs or in teams of four. Canoeists use a single-bladed paddle from a kneeling position.

Jargon Busting: An eddy is a white water feature downstream from an obstacle.

Where: Norwich Canoe Club (norwichcanoeclub.org.uk), which focuses on the sprint and marathon disciplines, welcomes members of any age and ability and runs courses. If you just fancy having a go, Whitlingham Outdoor Centre (whitlinghamoec.co.uk) has canoes and kayak for hire May-September.

CYCLING

What: Britain’s two-wheel triumph at the last Olympics was credited with reviving huge interest and getting more people on their bikes than ever. Olympic cycling includes track, road, mountain bike and BMX racing. There are 10 Olympic track events (five for men, five for women) including individual and team sprints and pursuits and the Keirin, where competitors following a pacing motorcycle before sprinting to the finish and the Omnium, where riders competing against each other across six different disciplines. The Olympic road races are 250km for men, 140km for women.

Jargon Busting: The pacing motorcycle used in Keirin races is known as the Derny.

Where: Competitive cycling is a test of speed, endurance and teamwork, however getting pedalling is great exercise whatever you’re age or fitness. If you’d like to be more competitive or just more social try joining Norwich Amateur Bicycle Club (norwichabc.co.uk) or Velo Club Norwich (vcnorwich.co.uk).

DIVING

What: Diving made its Olympic debut in 1904 and there are now eight events – four for men, four for women – feature either a springboard, 3m above the pool, or a fixed platform, set at a height of 10m. Judges award a score out of 10 for each dive, which is adjusted to take into account the dive’s degree of difficulty.

Jargon Busting: A pike is a diving position where the diver bends the body at the hips, keeping the legs straight.

Where: The best place to start diving is your local pool. If you want to know more about clubs, facilities and coaching schemes in this region check swimming.org

EQUESTRIAN

What: Equestrian sport can be traced back more than 2,000 years, when the Greeks introduced dressage training to prepare their horses for war. Olympic events cover dressage, jumping and eventing. Dressage sees horse and rider perform a series of movements scored for individual movements and for the overall routine. Jumping is held on a short course containing 12-14 fences. Eventing includes both dressage and jumping as well as cross-country riding, which requires speed, power and nerve from both the riders and their horses.

Jargon Busting: A run-out is when a horse shakes off the rider’s control and runs around a fence instead of jumping over it.

Where: There are numerous riding schools in Norfolk. For details visit bef.co.uk. Woodland Park Equestrian Centre (woodlandparkequestriancentre.co.uk) in South Walsham has professional lessons in an indoor training centre for novice to experienced riders.

FENCING

What: Although sword fighting dates back thousands of years, fencing really came of age as a sport in the 19th century. A tense, compelling battle of wits and technique, the sport is one of the few to have featured at every modern Olympics. Three types of weapon are used. In bouts using the Foil and the slightly heavier Epée, hits are scored by hitting an opponent with the tip of the weapon. However, in Sabre, hits may also be scored with the edge of the weapon.

Jargon Busting: A riposte is scoring a hit after you’ve successfully executed a defensive parry.

Where: Fencing is a great way to improve your balance and coordination. Norfolk Fencing Club (norfolkfencingclub.co.uk) meets at UEA Sportspark and runs beginner courses. Find out more about the sport at: www.britishfencing.com

GYMNASTICS

What: In Ancient Greece, gymnastics was regarded as the perfect symmetry between mind and body. Today it breaks down into two variations: artistic and rhythmic. Artistic sees men attempt disciplines on the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar, while women compete on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor. Judges score the degree of difficulty and the quality of the execution. Rhythmic is a combination of gymnastics and dance with routines to music. Gymnastics also includes the trampoline.

Jargon Busting: Rudolph is a front somersault with 1½ twists, sometimes known as a ‘Rudy’.

Where: Strength, flexibility and balance are keys to success in this breathtaking and hugely competitive sport. Norwich Gymnastics Club (norwichgymnasticsclub.co.uk) has produced national champions and offers courses, competitions and squad training. Norfolk Academy of Gymnastics (tnag.co.uk) ia aimed at children and young people. UEA Sportspark has a Gymnastics Centre fully equipped to Olympic standard and runs gymnastics and trampoline courses.

HANDBALL

What: Played on the largest court of any indoor Olympic ball sport, two teams of seven players pass and dribble a small ball with their hands, aiming is to throw the ball into the opposition’s goal, Speed, skill and stamina are key attributes in this fast and exhilarating team sport.

Jargon Busting: A pivot is an offensive player who plays largely around the opponent’s goal area line.

Where: For more details of where to take up the sport and leagues visit englandhandball.com

HOCKEY

What: Hockey demands speed, stamina and a mastery of intricate hand-eye coordination. Played by teams of 11 on an outdoor pitch, the sport is a long-time Olympic favourite.

Jargon Busting: The shooting circle is an arc in front of each goal and goals can only be scored from within it.

Where: As a non-contact sport, hockey can be enjoyed by people of both genders and all ages. There are numerous clubs and leagues in Norfolk (englandhockey.co.uk). Try Norwich Dragons (norwichdragonshc.co.uk), which has adult and youth teams.

JUDO

What: Developed from jujitsu and established as a sport in the late 19th century by Dr Jigoro Kano, Judo is a sport for which athletes are called upon to employ an intricate mix of attack and defence. The sport’s one-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive, as competitors grapple for command against equally determined opponents.

Jargon Busting: Hajime is the referee’s command to start a contest.

Where: Judo can be enjoyed by participants of all skill levels and abilities. For information and club lists visit britishjudo.org.uk. Norwich Premier Judo Club (norwichpremierjudoclub.co.uk) has junior and adult coaching. UEA Sportspark

PENTATHLON

What: Modern pentathlon competitions are conducted over a single day. The first element is fencing, followed by swimming (200m freestyle) and riding (jumping over a 12-jump course). Total scores are converted into a time handicap which determines the starting times for the combined run/shoot element which requires shooting at sets of five targets after running several stretches of 1,000m.

Jargon Busting: A thrusting sword, the épée is used in the fencing element of pentathlon competitions.

Where: If you like an all-round challenge, modern pentathlon could be for you. There are no specific clubs in Norfolk, so the best way to get started is to visit pentathlongb.org

ROWING

What: Rowing has been staged at every Games since making its debut on the Olympic programme at Paris in 1900. The 14 Olympic Rowing events range from the single sculls, featuring solo rowers, to the eights, contested by teams of eight rowers plus a cox.

Jargon Busting: Scull means to with two oars, one in each hand.

Where: Norwich Rowing Club (norwichrowingclub.co.uk) offers the chance to enjoy sculling and sweep oar rowing at all levels from complete beginners to international. Broadland Boat Club (broadlandboatclub.org.uk) offers both rowing and canoeing. British Rowing is also running ‘Project Oarsome’ – a scheme to help young school pupils get started. More information at worldrowing.com

SAILING

What: At London 2012, the 10 different Olympic Sailing events (six for men, four for women) will feature a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards. Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position. The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled.

Jargon Busting: Tacking is when a boat passes through the the wind in order to change direction. Because it is impossible to sail directly into the wind, sailing boats must zig-zag.

Where: Norfolk Broads School of Sailing (norfolksailingschool.co.uk) provides a wide range of both RYA approved and other residential sailing courses, including many aimed at beginners and basic skills. Whitlingham Outdoor Centre (whitlinghamoec.co.uk) offer several RYA courses including the Youth and National schemes, also Try It sailing sessions for one and a half hours.

SHOOTING

What: Olympic Shooting events fall broadly into three types: pistol, rifle and shotgun. In pistol and rifle events, competitors aim at a 10-ringed target from a set distance (10m, 25m or 50m). In shotgun events, meanwhile, competitors shoot at moving clay targets launched above and in front of them.

Jargon Busting: Double trap is when two clay targets are launched simultaneously in front of the shooter.

Where: In the UK, more than 350,000 people currently practice the sport, with equal numbers of boys and girls entering competitions. Find details of all the shooting clubs and facilities in your local area by visiting www.britishshooting.org.uk

SWIMMING

What: There are four strokes used in Olympic competition: freestyle (essentially, front crawl), backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Olympic races vary from 50m all the way up to 1,500m. At the more artistic level is synchronised swimming. Although it looks deceptively graceful, it’s an extremely demanding sport calling for great strength, amazing levels of endurance and exceptional flexibility.

Jargon Busting: A negative split is when an athlete swims the second half of a race faster than the first half.

Where: City of Norwich Swimming Club (cityofnorwichsc.co.uk), Norwich Swans Swimming Club (norwichswansc.co.uk), Norwich Penguins Swimming Club (norwichpenguins.co.uk) and Hurricanes Swim Club (01603 262517 or email: hurricaneswimclub@btinternet.com) are all good places to start. There is advice on swimming fitness programmes at swimming.org/swimfit

TABLE TENNIS

What: Table Tennis has come a long way from its origins in the late 19th century, when it developed as an after-dinner game played by upper-class English families. It’s based on the same basic principles as tennis, but it has a very different scoring system

Jargon Busting: The blade is the flat, rigid part of the racket used for striking the ball.

Where: Table Tennis is fast, fun and easy to learn. Wensum Table Tennis Club (wensumttc.co.uk) meets at Catton Grove Primary and new players are always welcome, whether to give the sport a try, compete in the league or get in some extra practice. UEA Sportspark also has tables, mats and balls for hire.

TAEKWONDO

What: Taekwondo’ translates as ‘the way of foot and fist’ – an accurate description of the principles behind this Korean martial art. The object is to land powerful kicks and punches on your opponent’s scoring zones. One point is awarded for a valid kick or punch to the torso, two points for a valid spinning kick, and four points for a turning kick to the head.

Jargon Busting: The competitor wearing blue is known as Chung, while the opponent wearing red is known as Hong.

Where: Saracen Taekwondo Club (smatkd.co.uk) and Norwich WTF Taekwondo (norwichtaekwondo.co.uk) are both based at UEA Sportspark and offer mixed ability classes for males and females over the age of 13.

TRIATHLON

What: Triathlon races combine swimming, cycling and running, in that order. Events are conducted over a variety of distances. For the 2012 Olympics both men’s and women’s will consist of a 1,500m swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

Jargon Busting: Transitions are the changeovers between the three elements of the race.

Where: Triathlon is a sport for people of all ages and backgrounds, and with races held over a wide range of distances, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. The British Triathlon Federation (www.britishtriathlon.org) oversees a network of clubs, coaches, volunteers and races across Britain.

VOLLEYBALL

What: In 1895, William G Morgan devised a game he called ‘mintonette’, which he designed as a gentle alternative to basketball for older members of his YMCA gym. Modern volleyball is anything but gentle – few sports offer such fast, furious and exhilarating action.

Jargon Busting: To smash the ball over-arm into the opponent’s court is known as a spike.

Where: Within Norfolk volleyball is played at many different levels including mixed and men’s local leagues, with matches based at the UEA Sportspark, Eastern Region tournaments, plus two national league teams. More details at www.norfolkvolleyball.org

WATER POLO

What: Water Polo developed during the 19th century as an aquatic version of rugby, played informally in rivers and lakes. It’s played by teams of seven in a pool with a goal at each end with matches are divided into four periods of eight minutes, and each team has only 30 seconds to attempt to score before the ball is returned to the opposition.

Jargon Busting: Eggbeater is a powerful way of treading water, used in both synchronised swimming and water polo.

Where: Because players aren’t allowed to touch the sides or the bottom of the pool during play, and can swim as much as three miles during a match, water polo is fantastic exercise. The water polo group of City of Norwich Swimming Club (cityofnorwichsc.co.uk) meet on Saturday mornings. Norwich & Thetford Waterpolo Club (01603 841212) play home matches and train at Wymondham Leisure Centre.

WEIGHTLIFTING

What: One of the most straightforward Olympic sports, it’s also among the most awe-inspiring. The aim is simple: to lift more weight than anyone else. There are two types of lift: the snatch, when the bar is lifted from the floor in one movement, and the clean and jerk, a two-stage action – the bar is first brought up to the shoulders before being jerked over the head.

Jargon Busting: A press out is an illegal move where the lifter bends the arms while holding the bar overhead, then presses them out to straighten them.

Where: Though the principles are simple, if you’re wanting to try weightlifting it’s very important to get proper instruction. Most gyms have free weights but for more information and advice on taking up the competitive sport visit britishweightlifting.org

WRESTLING

What: Recognised as one of the world’s oldest sports, Wrestling was first held at the ancient Olympics in 708 BC. It’s a body-to-body combat sport, with the aim is to force the back of the opponent’s shoulders on to the ground. There are two Olympic disciplines Greco-Roman, with athletes are only allowed to use their arms and upper bodies, and Freestyle.

Jargon Busting: The bridge is an arched position adopted by a wrestler to prevent his back from touching the mat.

Where: You can start wrestling from the age of eight. Though there are no dedicated clubs in Norfolk, British Wrestling (britishwrestling.org) has all the information you’ll need to get started.

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