Leap years were a marvellous invention in my opinion. Not only do they swell the month of February by 24 hours once every four years, they mark the date for the modern day Olympics to take place.
And as the 22nd Summer Olympic Games will be hosted in my native country, England, I thought it would be fitting for the O in my Personal A through Z of Portugal to be a look at the Olympics, from a Portuguese perspective.
The coming games to be played out over two weeks, 27th July – 12th August in London, are not only cause for celebration in England. In Portugal flags will be raised and parties no doubt arranged to celebrate the 100 years the country has been competing in the quad-annual affair.
Although the Olympic Committee of Portugal (Comité Olimpico de Portugal) was formed in 1908 athletes from this small nation weren’t able to compete until the 1912 event, hosted by the Nordic nation of Sweden in their capital Stockholm. In their first ever, Olympic outing Portugal sent a delegation of seven competitors to battle out three sporting disciplines – running (marathon, 100metres, 200 metres, 400 metres and 800 metres); fencing and wrestling.
Sadly it was tragedy, not victory the Portuguese newspapers had to report though. Fernando Lázaro, who was not only the first standard-bearer for Portugal, but the country’s first Olympic marathon runner, died as a result of dehydration the day after his race.
In the interceding 24 games Portugal has secured an impressive 22 medals and is certainly hoping to bag a few more at the 2012 London Olympics. For the latest games Portugal is hoping it’s athletes who will make up Team Portugal will participate in 28 disciplines.
And although 56 have registered to compete on behalf of Portugal the complicated (to me) qualification procedure for the games, which varies for each discipline doesn’t end until one month before the games are scheduled to open.
I had hoped to provide look into the athletes who will make up the Team Portugal and although some have already bagged their places, others have a nerve-racking wait to see if they make it through.
So I thought it unfair to mention some and not others, as all are as deserving as the rest. And I will make an up date to this post in June to ensure the full Team Portugal line up is mentioned in full. But if you want to keep up with the action as they earn their places, check out the Comité Olimpico de Portugal website for updates.