London 2012 Olympics: 9 Lesser-Known Olympic Events You Can't Afford to Miss

Geoff Ratliff@@geoffratliffContributor IIIJuly 28, 2012

London 2012 Olympics: 9 Lesser-Known Olympic Events You Can't Afford to Miss

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    The buildup to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London is finally over and the Games have officially begun. After a spectacular opening ceremony Friday night, the first events kicked off at about 3 a.m. eastern time in the United States.

    It shouldn’t take much arm twisting to pique the interests of Olympic viewers when it comes to the more popular events like basketball, the track and field sprints and hurdles, men’s boxing, soccer, women’s volleyball and swimming.

    Those events are dominated by many of the world’s most notable athletes and they usually provide the best Olympic drama.

    However, if you peruse the schedule for the London Games closely, you’ll find some lesser-known events featuring a few of the world’s most accomplished Olympians, some of whom will be looking to make history during the 2012 Olympic Games.

    Since if you’re either too or too lazy to thumb through the jam packed, 16-day schedule yourself, here are nine under-the-radar Olympic events that you should definitely check out.

Archery: Men’s Individual

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    U.S. archer Brady Ellison has been ranked No. 1 in the world in men’s recurve since 2010. But he didn’t even make the podium at the 2008 Games.

    Ellis will try to change that in London, but he’ll have to defeat two-time defending gold medalist Im Dong-hyun—who is legally blind by the way—of South Korea if he wants to justify his world ranking.

Women’s Boxing

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    Women’s boxing is making its Olympic debut in London this year after 10 years as an amateur sport. While the ladies only offer three weight classes in their first go-round, the competition should equal that of the men in both fierceness and entertainment value.

    Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall is the favorite in the 165-pound (75 kg) division and she’ll be looking to represent the host country well with a gold medal.

Kayak (Flatwater): Kayak Fours, 1,000 meters

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    Denmark pulled out a surprising victory at the European championships in June. Will they be able to duplicate that success on the Olympic stage?

Cycling: Men’s Individual Time Trial

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    Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara is the favorite to win the gold medal. But he’ll have to fend off 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins on his home turf to guarantee victory.

Cycling: Women’s Road Race

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    If you like your Olympians more on the eccentric side, check out Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini as she tears up the streets of London in pursuit of gold.

Fencing: Women’s Individual Foil

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    Valentina Vezzali, at the tender age of 38, is seeking to become the first female Olympian—and just fourth overall—to win the same event in four different games as she defends her gold medal in the individual fencing foil.

Artistic Gymnastics: Men’s Rings

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    China’s Chen Yibing turned in a near-perfect performance to win the gold in Beijing. If you want to see the rings done right, watch him attempt to defend his gold in London.

Shooting: All

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    Though I’ve never been much of a hunter or a fan of guns in general, there is something highly impressive about the precision involved in hitting small targets and/or moving objects with a firearm.

    The variety of shooting events featured at the Summer Olympics—10 events for the men and seven for the women—provide a nice alternative to the mostly physical aspects of athletic competition, instead giving a nod to more precise skills involving superior hand-eye coordination.

Table Tennis: Men’s and Women’s Singles

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    Most people are honest enough with themselves to realize that they cannot play most sports at a high level, which is why we leave the Olympics to the professionals and high-caliber amateurs.

    You might be tempted to look at the Olympic schedule, see table tennis and immediately begin to shake your head as you ask yourself how it could possibly be an Olympic sport. You’ll only need a few minutes to realize how wrong you are.