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It’s time to bring out the American Flags and clear the DVR, people! The 2012 London Olympics are here! As a former competitive gymnast of nearly 18 years, I can honestly say that I live for the Summer Olympic games. They are better than my birthday, better than any holiday. To spread my love for the games, I thought I’d share a little London Olympics 101 with everyone.

1.  Sports Illustrated Cover

For the first time, Sports Illustrated featured our US Gymnastics Team on the cover. The team consists of Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber. Raisman, at just 18-years-old, is the team’s captain, though many have their eyes on World Champion, Wieber, who is expected to anchor the team competition after not qualifying for a spot at the individual all-around. The team is favored to win, but it will be interesting to see how such a young and inexperienced team handles the pressure against the always solid Russian and Chinese teams. [Image Source: USA Gymnastics]

For a full TV schedule, head to nbcolympics.com or download the NBC Olympics on-the-go app for live updates and streaming. Go USA!

2. London 2012 Logo

Love it or hate it, the logo is here to stay! The Olympic Emblem (which cost £400,000) is based on the number 2012. Its original intent was to play up Britain’s quirkiness, differentiating itself effectively from the shadow of the 2008 Beijing games. However, it’s safe to say that the “Inspire a Generation” branding only inspired a generation to lash back with fierce criticism. [Image Source: Speak Up]

3. Olympic Stadium

The process of building the 2.5km Olympic Park for the games began in 2005, with a majority of the park being completed on time and within budget by July 2011. One of the main goals was to only construct permanent venues intended for long-term use. Existing landmark venues such as Wimbledon and Lord’s Cricket Ground are also being used. The Olympic Park features eight venues, including the iconic Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Center and Velodrome. The Park is divided into four zones; each zone—The Street Market, Britannia Row, World Square, and Orbit Circus—has its own unique atmosphere and attractions. [Image Source: London 2012]

4. Olympic Torch

The London 2012 Olympic Torch, designed by east Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, is the winner of the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year Award. The gold-colored torch is perforated with 8000 circles, which represent the 8000 torchbearers who carried it on its 70-day relay ahead of the Games opening in July.

The triangular-shaped Torch was inspired by a series of ‘threes’ that are found in the history of the Olympic Games and the vision for the Olympic Movement:

  • The three Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship;
  • The three words that make the Olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger;
  • The fact that the UK has hosted the Olympic Games in 1908, 1948 and are hosting for the third time in 2012; and
  • The vision for the London 2012 Olympic Games to combine three bodies of work – sport, education and culture.

[Images Sources: London 2012 and Dezeen]

5. Velodrome

Located in the northern part of Olympic Park, the Velodrome is one of the most sustainable and iconic venues of the London 2012 Games. Designed by London’s Hopkins Architects, the Velodrome will host the Olympic and Paralympic indoor cycling events. This past April, it was awarded The Architecture of the Year award, presented by the Design Museum.

The lightweight, compound curving, cable-net roof structure was designed to reflect the shape of the cycling track. It has capacity for 6,000 spectators, with the seating split into two tiers. A glass wall around the venue’s perimeter between the lower and upper tiers of the venue’s seating will give spectators a 360-degree view of the Olympic Park.

Sustainable choices were made wherever possible, from the sourcing of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council used on the track and external cladding, to the installation of a 100% naturally ventilated system that eliminates the need for air conditioning. [Image Sources: Hopkins Architects and ArchDaily]

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