Let the games begin. Athletes from around the world will descend upon London this summer for the 30th Summer Olympics July 27 to Aug. 12.
The London 2012 planning committee expects 10,500 men and women to compete in 26 sports running the gamut from badminton to taekwondo.
Millions of spectators will tune in to root for their home teams in the biggest sporting event on the planet.
But you can do more than just watch the games from this side of the pond. Channel your inner Olympian and re-create your favorite events in and around York.
Here are a few ideas highlighting some local places to try out summer sports.
Move over, Katniss Everdeen.
Archery made its first Olympic appearance in 1900 (though it disappeared from 1920 to 1972). But films such as “Hanna,” “The Hunger Games” and the upcoming Pixar film “Brave” have brought it back to the big screen — and everyone’s mind — in a big way.
“There’s been a spike in rental sales,” said Nathan Reider, owner and CEO of Xtreme Archery in York. “We’re seeing a lot of individuals coming out, testing it out and falling in love.”
Reider opened the store and indoor 3-D range three years ago with his father and said he has been involved with the sport since he was about 5 years old.
While he said archery has been predominately an activity for older males, he and his father wanted to encourage and educate anyone with an interest in the sport.
“We cater to families, expert shooters and novice shooters,” he said.
Reider said everything needed to get started in the sport costs less than $200, but renting equipment can be a great way to test it out.
Reider said it is $5 to rent bows and arrows, and one-time admission to the range is $10 for adults and $8 for kids 18 and younger. He said it will take about one hour to complete the course, which has both ground and tree-stand-level shooting.
“We stress safety,” said Reider. “We don’t want (anyone) to be scared.”
Xtreme Archery, 1369 Fairlane Drive, York; 717-650-1945; www.xtremearchery.net
George Figdore has been canoeing all his life.
“I was a Boy Scout and started in Shiloh with Troop 94,” said the 72-year-old West Manchester Township resident. “We had a great canoeing program.”
In 1973, Figdore co-founded the Conewago Canoe Club. He said the group started with mostly tandem (two-person) and single canoes, but has evolved over the years to include kayaks.
Today, he said there are about 500 dues-paying members, including Dover native Scott Strausbaugh, who won a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona in the Canadian slalom pairs canoeing competition.
The club holds six meetings a year and begins the spring season with a flat-water outing on a local lake to teach the basics of paddling, various strokes and how to recover from flipping.
Figdore said it’s important to pay attention to the rules, regulations and water levels.
“Adults in the boat should know what they’re doing before piling the kids and dog into the canoe,” he said.
In addition to talking to experts in the club, he recommends checking out local boat retailers, getting pamphlets from the state Fish and Boat Commission, reading trade magazines and visiting the American Canoe Association website before getting anywhere near the water.
Over the years, Figdore said, he’s done a fair amount of rescues. “The Susquehanna is a very big river … and things can get really hairy.”
But, he said, if done right, canoeing can be a great family activity — as long as everyone is completely immersed in the great outdoors.
“Keep the electronics out of the boat,” he said. “You’re out in nature and kids should focus on what nature has to offer.”
Conewago Canoe Club, York County; www.conewagocanoeclub.org
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for Olympic tennis this year. The games will be played on the historic grass courts of Wimbledon, just three weeks after the annual grand-slam tournament.
The last time London’s famous courts saw Olympic play was in 1908, when Great Britain took home all six gold medals.
“I think there might be more interest because that’s a big deal for tennis,” said Jim Overbaugh, tennis director and head pro at Wisehaven Tennis Center in Windsor Township.
Wisehaven has both indoor and outdoor courts. And while the tennis center is now in the thick of its 18-week outdoor season, he said its busiest season is November to mid-March.
“That’s when everybody has to play inside,” he said. “If you’re going to be a good high school player or beyond, you’ve gotta play year round.”
Overbaugh said Wisehaven is a primarily junior- and family-driven tennis center with a number of leagues, socials and tournaments.
He also said the center offers a pee-wee program for children ages 3 to 6 to learn the basics.
“My two granddaughters just started to play,” he said. “They’re 3 and 5.”
Wisehaven Tennis Center, 2989 E. Prospect Road, Windsor Township; 717-757-6373; www.wisehaventenniscenter.com
When driving on Interstate 83 between York and Harrisburg, you can’t help but notice the giant power-lifting figure rotating atop York Barbell.
The icon has been a staple near Exit 24 since the 1960s. But the Manchester Township building is more than just a roadside attraction.
Inside, you can pay homage to York Barbell Founder Bob Hoffman, the “Father of World Weightlifting.”
“You’ll see a lot of families come through the Hall of Fame,” said Tim Bonitz of York Barbell. “It’s a great day trip.”
While he said the exhibit has a lot of York history because of the company’s longtime ties to the area, he said people come from around the world to view the exhibit that salutes strength sports.
Inside the free, self-guided tour, you can check out a 7-foot Travis dumbbell weighing more than 1,600 pounds and the “ticket to the world” — a 185kg Elite certified weight set, which is the only U.S. manufactured set approved for worldwide weightlifting events.
And you can get up close and personal with a gold medal from the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The hall of fame features an exhibit that highlights Olympic and World Championship weightlifting from Amsterdam in 1928 to Atlanta in 1996, including the Olympic sport’s York ties.
“Hoffman sponsored U.S. lifting teams and athletes qualified through York Barbell Club,” Bonitz said.
Between 1930 and 1970, the club had more than 40 national championships and several Olympic golds.
USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame, 3300 Board Road, Manchester Township, 717-767-6481; www.yorkbarbell.com
Going for gold
Where do you channel your inner Olympian in York County? We want to know! Share your favorite spot for sports for a chance to win a four-pack of York Revolution tickets. The deadline is July 25.
View the entry form here.
You also can find it under the 100 Days of Summer tab on the Smart website.
Check out the latest London 2012 news on The O-zone.