Slate’s Day-by-Day Cheat Sheet for What To Watch at the London Olympics

Scenes from the Olympics.
July 27 2012 6:40 AM

What To Watch at the London Olympics

Slate’s day-by-day cheat sheet to the events everyone will be watching and the hidden gems you won’t want to miss.

(Continued from Page 2)

You should watch: Women’s team table tennis wraps up this morning, and, believe me, if you’ve ever played ping pong, it’ll be worth getting up early to see for yourself just how bad you really are. The Chinese, as always, are the favorites here. Why are the Chinese so good at table tennis? I don’t know, but it’s probably safe to blame Susan Sarandon.

Wednesday, August 8:

Misty May-Treanor
Misty May-Treanor will try to repeat as a beach volleyball champion.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Everyone will be watching: Gold medals will be awarded in women’s beach volleyball today. While Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will likely repeat their Beijing victory, Mauritian volleyballer Nioun Chin Elodie Li Yuk Lo is a strong contender to have the longest name you’ve ever seen.

You should watch: Horses! More specifically, horses jumping over things, in the finals of equestrian’s individual jumping event. Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca will be competing in the Olympics’ dressage competition rather than jumping, but don’t worry—plenty of other horses owned by rich ladies will be getting some mild exercise before repairing to their stables to eat carefully balanced meals that cost more to prepare than anything you’ve eaten in a month, you pathetic poor person, you.

Thursday, August 9:

Everyone will be watching: Women’s soccer concludes today, with Hope Solo and the U.S. team hoping to repeat their 2004 and 2008 gold medal performances. They’ll be challenged by the Brazilian squad, which is filled with players who have only one name. Are you paying attention, Nioun Chin Elodie Li Yuk Lo?

You should watch: Taekwondo was the last “demonstration sport” to make it to full-fledged competition status before the Summer Olympics stopped having demonstration sports back in the 1990s. As you watch taekwondo today, feel free to shake your head whenever it gets boring and mumble about how we could be watching Olympic roller hockey right now.


Friday, August 10:

Everyone will be watching: The finals of the men’s 4-by-400-meter relay take place on the track today. This event, which begins with the prelims on Thursday, features double amputee Oscar Pistorius. Known as the “Blade Runner,” Pistorius is a double amputee who wears curved carbon fiber blades where his fibulae ought to be. There had been talk of banning Pistorius from Olympic competition, because officials fear that his prostheses give him a mechanical advantage. Plus, the IOC harbors an irrational hatred for anything having to do with Philip K. Dick.

You should watch: If you’re familiar with BMX biking at all, it’s probably because you’re sick and tired of watching all those teenage hoodlums ride their little bikes around the 7-11 parking lot all damn night. Well, back off, old man. Yes, American contender Nic Long has a bunch of tattoos, but consider that he got his first one at 18 in honor of his grandmother. “I definitely have plenty more ideas for future tattoos,” Long told USA Today. Stay tuned for 2016 to see if his entire back is covered with grandparents!

Saturday, August 11:

Everyone will be watching: After winning the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 world championships, South African woman Caster Semenya was forced to submit to gender testing. After a series of tests that proved her femininity, Semenya glued together her shattered dignity and made it to the Olympics. Assuming she makes it through the prelims, she’ll go today in the 800-meter finals—wearing a bright pink outfit and humming “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” just to be on the safe side.

You should watch: Tonight marks the running-fencing-riding extravaganza known as modern pentathlon. As a frustrated comp lit grad student, you should definitely take the opportunity to make several quips about the events that might be included in the postmodern pentathlon: “It’d have shooting … down non-structuralist interpretations of literature, that is! And running … away from art that fails to juxtapose high and low culture, that is!”

Sunday, August 12:

Everyone will be watching: The men’s gold medal basketball game helps close the games today. While everyone’s expecting the Americans to win gold, don’t be surprised if, at the very last minute, LeBron James shocks the world by announcing that he has decided to take his talents to Tunisia.

You should watch: You’ve watched enough sports these past two weeks. Sit back and enjoy the Spice Girls, who are reuniting for the closing ceremony, and will probably sing several of their hits, like that song about girl power, and that other song about girl power.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the London Olympics.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at



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