Treat this as your one-stop guide to all the biggest sport events happening in the UK this summer! It all kicks of this weekend with an eagerly anticipated rugby match and the highlight of summer 2012 will of course be the Olympic Games, which are now just 70 days away. Here are the hottest events to look forward to;
The Heineken Cup Final: Saturday 19 May 2012, at Twickenham Stadium:
London hosts Europe’s top rugby union competition this weekend, a match pitting Ulster Rugby of Belfast against Leinster Rugby of Dublin. The all-Irish final is being highly anticipated; the match is already an 82,000-ticket sellout. Leinster, last year’s cup champion, is the first club to reach back-to-back finals since Toulouse in 2005, and are expected to repeat last year’s result after dominating the Pro 12 League table and indeed finishing top again 10 points clear. Ulster’s performance has been more of a surprise as they currently rest in 6th place.
Royal Ascot: 19 – 23 June 2012, at Ascot Racecourse:
Though the fabulous social aspects of Royal Ascot often overshadow the sporting aspects of the competition, the 301st edition promises to feature many exciting races, particularly the Gold Cup on June 21st. Whether you’re attracted to costumes and pageantry or gambling and athletics, a weekend trip to Berkshire to experience the tradition of Royal Ascot is not one you are likely to regret.
The Wimbledon Championships: 25 June – 8 July 2012, at All England Club, Wimbledon, London:
The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament features many British players hoping to end Britain’s 45-year drought without a champion. Most notably, Andy Murray of Scotland will return hoping to improve on his recent results. After taking the first game against Rafael Nadal in last year’s semi-final, Murray lost next three and was sent home at the semi-final for the third consecutive year. Still ranked fourth in the world, he’ll be holding the hopes of the country on his shoulders, but with the likes of Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic in the field, such a breakthrough would be quite an achievement, indeed. The excitement begins June 11th for the wild card playoff; the tournament’s final draw occurs June 21st.
Formula 1 British Grand Prix: 6 – 8 July 2012, at Silverstone Racetrack, Northamptonshire:
The British Grand Prix, more than just another stop on the F1 circuit, is the longest running continuously staged F1 world championship. Silverstone has hosted the event for decades, and will continue to, despite issues in past years surrounding track renovation. Fans will have several British drivers to cheer for over the weekend, including the phenomenal Lewis Hamilton who currently clocks in at number 3 in the F1 standings, Jenson Button who is ranked sixth and rookie Paul Di Resta in twelfth position.
The Open Championship: 19 – 22 July 2012, at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s Golf Club, Lancashire:
The 141st Open Championship is being held at the historic Royal Lytham & St Anne’s Golf Club, a par 70, true links course considered by many to be the toughest in the Open rotation. Following the excitement of the Masters and the beginning of the golf season, the Open will be highly anticipated come mid-July, especially by Britons; of any event on this list, the Open may provide the best opportunity for a British champion. Two Brits, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, have been neck and neck for World Golf’s #1 ranking the entire season, with Donald currently holding the advantage. Two other Englishmen, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, find themselves in the top 10. With the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson making appearances, there’s certainly no guarantee of an Englishmen raising the Claret Jug, but one will likely be in the running.
The Olympic Games: 27 July – 12 August 2012, in Greater London:
The main event of the summer is, of course, the 30th Olympiad. The vast majority of events will be held in the Greater London area, with the only exceptions being rowing, mountain biking, canoeing, sailing, and some of the early football matches. The venues in Greater London have been separated into three “zones”: the Olympic zone, the Central zone, and the River zone. London’s public transportation system, a concern for the International Olympic Committee, has seen loads of improvements in preparation for shuttling eager spectators between the various sites.
Some British athletes to keep an eye out for at the games include Hannah England, a middle-distance runner who specializes in 800 metres, 1500 metres, and mile runs, Liam Tancock, the world record holder in the 50m backstroke, and the women’s field hockey team, which is expected to medal. The UK is also loaded at both genders in the taekwondo competition, led by Jade Jones and Aaron Cook, the latter of which finished fourth in Beijing despite being only 17 years old.
If you’re in the UK and looking for some ideas and inspiration on what to do, where to go and what to see then check out our UK travel guide which has plenty of information.
Cowes Week: 11 -18 August, 2012, in Cowes, Isle of Wight:
One of the world’s longest running regattas, Cowes Week features 40 daily races and an average of 8,500 competitors from across the globe. Held on the Solent, excitement here abounds due to the difficult double tides caused by the Isle of Wight. Interestingly, Cowes provides not only an opportunity for spectators to witness today’s most efficient professional sailors, but also for amateur sailors to compete. Even sailors without a boat have are welcome, as many professionals hire extra hands for the week. Spectators can enjoy good food, shows, and shops, as well as cheap flights around the racing area.
The Paralympic Games: 29 August – 9 September 2012, in Greater London:
Taking place just a few short weeks after the main Olympic Games wrap up, the Paralympic Games will utilize many of the same spectacular venues. Though this summer marks London’s third Olympic competition, it is the first time a Paralympic Games have been hosted there. It provides an opportunity for spectators to witness some of the most inspirational and remarkable athletes in the world perform in twenty sports such as football, volleyball, cycling, and rugby. Many British athletes are expected to compete, though qualifying doesn’t take place until later this summer. One man we do know will be in attendance is wheelchair basketball team captain John Pollock, a leader in the sport for over a decade.