With the Olympics nearly upon us, we count down the days until London 2012 with a fascinating snippet every day until the Games start on the 27th July.
Thursday 26 July
1 day to go - There is one village in Kenya, Iten, that dominates the sport of middle-distance running and could hold the key to Olympic success for a host of athletes, including a series of big names from Britain. Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe and Hannah England have all trained her above altitude during the winter - and also in previous winters - to get themselves in the best possible shape for the Olympics. The village boasts just a few thousand inhabitants but has produced a famous array of Kenyan long-distance runners, including former marathon star Ibrahim Hussein, 1988 1500m gold medallist Peter Rono and 1992 3,000m steeplechase Games gold medallist Matthew Birir.
Wednesday 25 July
2 days to go - The number of athletes competing at the Games not under a nation. Philippe van Aanholt and Reginald de Windt had been due to compete for the Dutch Antilles but they have since had their membership of the International Olympic Committee as a nation withdrawn. However, the pair will still be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag, van Aanholt in sailing and de Windt in judo. Two also marks the number of female athletes set to compete for Saudi Arabia, a nation that had previously banned women from competing at the Games. The duo in question are 800m runner Sarah Attar and judo's Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim.
Tuesday 24 July
3 days to go - Khatuna Lorig has competed for three different nations at the Olympic Games in archery. In 1992, she represented the then Soviet Union in 1992. At the next two Games, she competed for Georgia, before switching allegiance to the United States, for whom she competed at the last Olympics. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she taught the star of the Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence, how to fire a bow an arrow. To date, Lorig has just one Olympic medal to her name, a bronze in the team event at her first Olympics two decades ago.
Monday 23 July
4 days to go - The number of golds won by former American athlete Michael Johnson. He picked up his first in the 4x400m relay at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, added another in the 200m and 400m at the subsequent Olympics on home soil in Atlanta before rounding off his quartet of golds in the 400m at Sydney 2000. At one point, he was the happy recipient of five Olympic gold medals but he later had that medal, for the 4x400m relay, removed after USA teammate Antonio Pettigrew was exposed as a drugs cheat. Pettigrew went on to commit suicide and Johnson recently said: "I still feel disappointed and bitter about what happened. I am bitter because I had to hand back a medal. I am bitter because I am sure that is what contributed to Antonio taking his own life and he has a son who now does not have a father, a wife who does not have a husband anymore. He never told me why he did it - he never talked to me about it and I am bitter about that too. He never said 'I am sorry'. Nothing good came out of it, it was a bad, bad situation."
Sunday 22 July
5 days to go - The number of riders that Britain are able to have in their road cycling team for the Games. Four of them: Chris Froome, David Millar, Ian Stannard and Bradley Wiggins will be working together in a bid to lead Mark Cavendish, much as they did at last year's World Championships in Copenhagen. The gold in question is the first that Britain can win at the Games so all eyes will be on the fastest man on two wheels to see how he fares come the finish on The Mall in London.
Saturday 21 July
6 days to go - The age of Mo Farah daughter's Rihanna. Farah and his wife Tania relocated to Oregon in the United States at the start of last year so that Farah could focus on his Olympic preparation with legendary distance running coach Alberto Salazar. Back in 2007, Salazar had a heart attack and had no pulse for 14 minutes before he was finally revived by paramedics. Farah and his wife are expecting twins a month after the Games. The couple's daughter has already picked up an American accent in the brief time the Farahs have lived across the pond.
Friday 20 July
7 days to go - The tallest member of Team GB is unsurprisingly from the sport of basketball. Dan Clark measures in at seven feet and comfortably towers over the smallest member of the team, Rebecca Tunney, who is a mere 4ft 9ins and weighs in at 5st 7lb. At 15, she's also the youngest member of the team while the accolade of the oldest belongs to dressage Richard Davison, who is 56.
Thursday 19 July
8 days to go - The remarkable gold tally won by American Michael Phelps at the last Olympics. He has no hope of matching that after opting only to compete in seven events in London. His biggest obstacle this year will be team-mate Ryan Lochte. The two duelled at the American trials and the suggestion is that Lochte could reign.
Wednesday 18 July
9 days to go - Thursday 9 August will see Britain going for a raft of gold medals. Arguably the strongest contender on the day will be Keri-anne Payne in the open-water swimming. A silver medallist a year ago, Payne, best friends with Becky Adlington and engaged to be married to fellow swimmer David Carry after the Games, is the current world champion. Phillips Idowu will be aiming for the top step of the podium too in the triple jump. Idowu grew up on an estate in Hackney where he regularly stepped over syringes and spoons used by drug addicts just to get to his flat.
Tuesday 17 July
10 days to go - The points on offer for archers hitting the bull in the event, which will be held at Lord's Cricket Ground of all places. Among those competing for Team GB will be Alison Williamson, who will be appearing in her sixth successive Olympics at the age of 40. Her best outing was an individual bronze in 2004. American actress Geena Davis tried to qualify for the United States team at the 2000 Summer Olympics but she missed out on a team place despite her best efforts.
Monday 16 July
11 days to go - The number of players that will take to the field for Team GB men's football team for their first appearance at the Games since 1960. Their predecessors won gold at the 1908 and 1912 Olympics and were managed by the legendary Matt Busby to fourth place at the 1948 Games.
Sunday 15 July
12 days to go - The number of athletes selected by Team GB for the men's basketball squad. The leading light of the team is NBA star Luol Deng, who is on the books of the Chicago Bulls. Born in Sudan, his family moved to Egypt to escape the Sudanese Civil War. It was in Egypt that Deng was taught basketball before his family were eventually granted asylum in the UK. He settled in Brixton, London, before heading to the United States at the age of 14 to pursue his playing ambitions.
Saturday 14 July
13 days to go - The Olympics will reportedly pump a staggering £13 billion into the British economy. How they can calculate this in advance is beyond us, but considering the food and drink prices (see below) perhaps it's the estimate is conservative. Prime Minister David Cameron has called on the country to turn the Games "into gold".
Friday 13 July
14 days to go - A total of 14 million meals will be served up at the Olympics. Organisers have called it "the largest peace time catering operation in the world". The food choice will apparently reflect the "heritage and diversity of British regional products and recipes." A pie and mash or fish and chips will set you back £8 and, if you're of drinking age, you can wash it all down with a pint of beer for £4.20. Bargain.
Thursday 12 July
15 days to go - The youngest member of the British team in London will be Rebecca Tunney, from Manchester. When the Games begin she will be just 15 and does not celebrate her 16th birthday until 26 October. Tunney won the British all-around title at the British Championships last month.
Wednesday 11 July
16 days to go - The next Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The Brazilian city beat Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo in the race to host the Games. The Olympics will see rugby sevens and golf added to the list of sports while kitesurfing will replace windsurfing.
Tuesday 10 July
17 days to go - One of the most famous incidents in Olympic history took place on 17 October 1968 when two black American athletes took to the podium for the 200m and marked the event by both raising a black-gloved hand during the national anthem. The moment, which has been turned into a film this year called Salute, involved gold medallist Tommie Smith and bronze-medal winner John Carlos. They were booed by many in the stands in Mexico as they left the stadium and their black power salute led to repercussions on their return to the United States, where they suffered death threats on their return.
Monday 9 July
18 days to go - Arguably Britain's best bet in the 100m is an 18-year-old, who until a couple of months ago, nobody had heard of. Adam Gemili is the quickest British sprinter this season with a time of 10.08 seconds and used to be a trainee at Chelsea before turning his attention to athletics full-time this year. There were fears he would be pulled from the Games by his coach, who insisted the pressure was too much. But that was laughed off by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee, who said it wasn't like the teenager was being sent to fight Al-Qaeda or, for that matter, work for the Daily Mail. The Dutchman is not a big fan of that particular publication following a series of run-ins between the two parties.
Sunday 8 July
19 days to go - The Olympic torch has travelled the length and breadth of the UK with all manner of Torch Bearers. Day 19 of the marathon quest saw it ravel from Newry to Belfast. Among those carrying it on the day in question were 1972 pentathlon Olympic champion Mary Peters, pop duo Jedward and radio DJ Colin Murray.
Saturday 7 July
20 days to go - Last month, it was reported that tickets for the Olympics were doing a roaring trade on the black market, with prices now more than 20 times their face value. The highest prices are said to be changing hands for the final day of athletics action on 11 August. Previously tickets had ranged from £50 to £725 but are now being flogged for £2,000 to £2,300, which is quite a mark-up.
Friday 6 July
21 days to go - Aaron Cook will comfortably be the most disgruntled 21-year-old in the land when the Olympics kick off. The world champion is the No.1 ranked in taekwondo globally at the 80kg weight category. But that wasn't enough to merit selection for the Games as he missed out to fellow Briton and world No.59 Lutalo Muhammad. Despite all manner of appeals, Cook, who was inspired to take up the sport by watching Power Rangers as a child, finally conceded defeat in his Olympic fight.
Thursday 5 July
22 days to go - Can you name Britain's first ever Olympic champion? Probably not. That particular accolade belongs to Launceston Elliot, who was part of a small British contingent at the 1896 Games in Athens. He was just 22 at the time. His medal came in weightlifting, which was decided by a single-handed and then double-handed lift. Somewhat bizarrely, he also competed in the 100m at that Games but only finished fourth in his heat and did not qualify for the next round.
Wednesday 4 July
23 days to go - The age of 23 is key in the Olympic football tournament. Sides taking part can only have three players in their squad over the age of 23, which has led to selection headaches for GB boss Stuart Pearce among others. He opted for the trio of Craig Bellamy, Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards, controversially overlooking David Beckham.
Tuesday 3 July
24 days to go - The 1924 Olympics were made famous when they hit the silver screen in the form of Chariots of Fire, telling the tale of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, who won gold in the 100m and 400m respectively. It is also a Games revered for the Flying Finns, in particular Paavo Nurmi, who won triple gold. All the more remarkably, Nurmi won the 1500m and 5000m with just an hour's recovery time between the two distances.
Monday 2 July
25 days to go - Demand for hotel rooms in London during the Olympics was expected to be massive so the prices rocketed accordingly. The only problem was the hoteliers' greed meant the rooms weren't taken up and, since then, prices have been slashed by 25%. That's scant consolation, though, for some punters who are believed to have been made to pay 10 times over the odds for a hotel room in the capital.
Sunday 1 July
26 days to go - There are 26 Olympic sports in total at this summer's Games although that's a tad misleading in that the likes of aquatics includes diving, swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo.
Saturday 30 June
27 days to go - When Usain Bolt broke his own world record for the 100m at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, he hit a top speed of 27.3mph, according to a German scientific analysis team. His average speed over the 100m and 200m sprints is 23.2mph.
Friday 29 June
28 days to go - Amsterdam was the host city for the 1928 Olympics, which was the first time that the Olympic Flame was lit during the Olympics, although it was another eight years before the torch relay began. Among the stars of the Games was Johnny Weissmuller, who won two swimming golds and later appeared as Tarzan on the silver screen.
Thursday 28 June
29 days to go - At the weekend, Shara Proctor broke the 29-year-old British record of Bev Kinch in the long jump at the Olympic trials. In interviews, you'll note that Proctor has a strong Caribbean lilt to her accent. The 23-year-old was born in Anguilla but competes for Britain as the island counts as a British Overseas Territory and does not boast its own national Olympic committee. She was a runner when she took up athletics but hated losing to two quicker girls in Anguilla so turned to the long jump instead. Her father Orris is a retired permanent secretary of education while her mother Wilma is Anguilla's director of sport.
Wednesday 27 June
30 days to go - For those of you planning to head to the Olympics and take public transport, be warned that it might take a while to get to your destination. A recent report has suggested that the wait to get on a Tube train at busier times could be as much as 30 minutes.
Tuesday 26 June
31 days to go - There will be royalty at the Olympics after Zara Phillips was recently named in the British three-day eventing line-up, sneaking the final available slot. The 31-year-old, daughter of Princess Anne and a granddaughter of the Queen, is 14th in line to the throne. She has kept her maiden name for competition but otherwise refers to herself as Mrs Michael Tindall having married the former England rugby captain just before Christmas 2010.
Monday 25 June
32 days to go - The Olympics aren't just about the sport. There's the Cultural Olympiad as well and all manner of music performances in the build-up. Among those performing is rapper Wretch 32 in a concert at Hyde Park to welcome the Olympic Torch back to the capital. Wretch said: "I wanted to be involved as much as I possibly could because it's such a big deal. I'm going to be telling my kids and grandkids I was part of the campaign."
Sunday 24 June
33 days to go - That's the number of hours of live Olympic coverage the BBC will show each day - more in fact than there are hours in the day. The corporation has a whopping 765 staff scheduled to work at the Games.
Saturday 23 June
34 days to go - The Who drummer Keith Moon has been dead for 34 years but that didn't stop Olympic organisers from writing to his former manager to ask if he would be willing to perform at the opening ceremony. The manager in question, Bill Curbishley, said: "I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green Crematorium having lived up to the Who's anthemic line 'I hope I die before I get old'."
Friday 22 June
35 days to go - Stuart Pearce drew up an initial list of 35 players to make Team GB's Olympic football team. Among those in contention for the eventual Games squad are David Beckham, who is expected to make the eventual shortlist, although Arsenal's Jack Wilshere was overlooked much to the delight of club manager Arsene Wenger. The eventual squad of 18 will be announced on 6 July.
Thursday 21 June
36 days to go - The 1936 Olympics in Berlin are among the most iconic in the history of the sporting spectacle. Renowned as the Hitler Games, the German leader was keen to show off his Aryan race. In the end, though, the Games became renowned for Jesse Owens' four gold medals. Soon after the Games, he took up some sponsorship offers, which saw his amateur status revoked and effectively ended his career. He later ran a dry-cleaning business and worked at a petrol station before being declared bankrupt.
Wednesday 20 June
37 days to go - There is also a cultural Olympiad going on this summer. Part of that is Globe to Globe, in which 37 Shakespeare plays are set to be performed in a variety of languages. It opened in April with the Ngakau Toa company performing Troilus and Cressida. Other highlights include a Sudanese Cymberline, Love's Labour's Lost in sign language and a Lithuanian Hamlet.
Tuesday 19 June
38 days to go - The number of swimmers in the first round of selections for Team GB, which was finalised after the initial trials at the Olympic pool in March. A final series of selections will make after the second trials in Sheffield later this week. It's already a team awash with couples. Keri-anne Payne will marry David Carry after the Games, while backstroke swimmer Liam Tancock currently dates Caitlin McClatchey.
Monday 18 June
39 days to go - Even at 39, Haile Gebrselassie has refused to hang up his spikes. The Ethiopian had hoped to qualify for the Olympic marathon but, when he missed out, turned his attention to 10,000m qualification. That also failed. Gebrselassie used to run six miles to school every morning and runs with crooked arms caused by his heavy school books.
Sunday 17 June
40 days to go - Archer Alison Williamson will compete in her sixth straight Olympics this summer aged 40 and is hopeful of adding to her total of one bronze. When she first made her Olympic bow back in Barcelona, John Major was Prime Minister and Jimmy Nail was No.1 in the charts with Ain't No Doubt.
Saturday 16 June
41 days to go - David Rudisha is known as the "Usain Bolt of the 800m" but, despite his talents, he is so under the radar it's unbelievable. He looks invincible in the event for which he holds a world record of 1 minute 41.01 seconds but his first athletics love was the 400m. Both of his parents were quarter-milers but he made the move up on the behest of his coach. Rudisha is also a member of the semi-nomadic Maasai people in Kenya.
Friday 15 June
42 days to go - The number of Limousin cross and Simmental cows that will be supplied by Buckinghamshire farmer Stephen Hobbs to feed Olympic competitors and spectators this summer. In total, 130 tonnes of meat and poultry will be needed to feed everyone for the duration of the Games.
Thursday 14 June
43 days to go - William Fox-Pitt celebrated his 43rd birthday on 2 January and will be among Britain's leading hopes for gold in the three-day eventing. He won team eventing silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing. When not riding, he also teaches the sport and his most famous pupil was Madonna, who used to live close to his stables when she was married to Guy Ritchie.
Wednesday 13 June
44 days to go - Australia will take 44 swimmers to London to the Games, a considerably larger squad across all Olympic sports than most of the nations competing this summer. Among those are Kenrick Monk, who claimed to have been injured by a hit-and-run driver only to later admit, after follow-ups by the police, that he had in fact fallen off his skateboard on his own resulting in a fractured elbow. Monk and fellow Aussie swimming Nick D'Arcy then got in hot water recently for posing with weapons in a US gun shop.
Tuesday 12 June
45 days to go - Dara Torres, who turned 45 in April, is bidding to qualify for the American swimming team at the Games. She made her Olympic debut in 1984, when she won gold in the 4x100m freestyle, and has missed just one Olympics since then - Athens in 2004. She is also a mother and a well-respected television presenter.
Monday 11 June
46 days to go - Greece hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens and comfortably topped the number of medals with 46 in total. Among the golds won by the hosts was Nikolaos Andriakopoulos in rope climbing and Ioannis Malokinis in the somewhat bizarrely titled 100m swimming for sailors.
Sunday 10 June
47 days to go - The number of medals won by Team GB at the last Olympics leaving them fourth overall in the medal table behind China, the United States and Russia. Of those 47 medals, 19 of them were gold, of which Nicole Cooke won the first in the women's cycling road race and James DeGale won the last in his boxing middleweight final. Team GB is once again aiming for fourth place in the standings come the end of these Games.
Saturday 9 June
48 days to go - The last time London hosted the Olympics was back in 1948 and became known as the Austerity Games because of the post-war economic climate and rationing. Neither Germany nor Japan were invited to compete while the USSR chose not to take part. Arguably the most famous name at those Games was Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen, aka "The Flying Housewife" who won four gold medals. Her medal haul was all the more impressive as she was a mother of three children.
Friday 8 June
49 days to go - Danish duo Jonas Warrer and Martin Kirketerp Ibsen won gold in the 49er sailing class at the last Olympics. But they nearly missed out on a medal altogether when their mast snapped just before the medal race. The Croatian team donated their boat to them so they could compete and they went on to win gold. But the Spaniards in second place lodged a complaint over the boat changed but that was quashed and the podium positions remained.
Thursday 7 June
50 days to go - The longest athletics event at the Olympics - longer even than the marathon - is the 50km walk. At the event at the 2000 Games, Britain's Chris Maddocks finished last by half an hour. But he became one of the heroes of the Sydney Games because he had continued competing with a serious hamstring injury and was met by rapturous applause from a packed stadium of nearly 100,000 people. Afterwards, Maddocks said: "It was the most emotional thing I think I've ever experienced."
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