Sport in London

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London, is the primate and capital city of both England and the United Kingdom. It has hosted many major international tournaments and has professional teams in different sports.

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[edit] Olympic Games

London has hosted the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1948. In July 2005 London was chosen to host the Games in 2012, making it the first city in the world to host the Summer Olympics three times.

The 2012 games will see massive development in the east-end of London, particularly Stratford, which will be home to the Olympic Village, Olympic Stadium and many major venues. Other events are spread out across the city, from Wembley Stadium in the north-west to Wimbledon in the south.

[edit] Commonwealth Games

London hosted the second British Empire Games at White City in 1934.

[edit] Football

The most popular spectator sport in London is football, and London has several of England's leading football clubs. Most London clubs are named after the district in which they play (or used to play). Historically the London clubs have not accumulated as many trophies as those from the north-west of England, such as Liverpool and Manchester United, but at present Arsenal (founded at Woolwich Arsenal but moved to Highbury in 1913), and Chelsea (who actually play in Fulham) are regarded as two of the Premier League's "big three" alongside Manchester United. In 2003-04 they became the first pair of London clubs to finish first and second in the top flight, with Arsenal winning. In 2004-05 they did so again, this time with Chelsea winning.

London clubs are able to charge higher ticket prices than clubs in other parts of the country (particularly for corporate facilities), and this has swung English football's balance of power towards London. Before Chelsea's recent rise in fortunes the two highest profile London clubs were Arsenal and their long-standing North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, both of whom were considered to be members of English football's "big five" for most of the post-war period. In 2006-07 there are six London clubs in the Premier League: Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea, plus Charlton Athletic, Fulham and West Ham United.

There are also six London clubs in the fully professional Football League (the three divisions below the Premiership), namely Barnet, Brentford, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient, Millwall and Queens Park Rangers (QPR). Barnet are the only one of these clubs who have never previously played in the top division. In a controversial move, Wimbledon left London in 2003 to play in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, changing their name to Milton Keynes Dons; the newly formed AFC Wimbledon inherited most of their support, despite playing at a much lower level in the football pyramid. There are also numerous London clubs playing outside the top four divisions of English football, one or two of which are fully professional and many of which are part-time professional. Hackney Marshes in east London, home to many amateur sides, is reportedly the single largest collection of football pitches in the world.

[edit] Wembley Stadium

Image:NewWembleyBuild.jpg
The new Wembley Stadium, currently under construction

Wembley Stadium, in north-west London, is the national football stadium, and is traditionally the home of the FA Cup Final as well as England's home internationals. The old stadium was closed in 2000 in order to be demolished and completely rebuilt, and is due to re-open in 2006. Cardiff's Millennium Stadium has been the venue for recent FA Cup finals, while England play at various venues around the country. Wembley was one of the venues for the 1966 FIFA World Cup and the 1996 European Football Championship, and hosted the final of both tournaments. It also was the venue for the European Cup final in 1968, 1978 and 1992. As well as football matches, Wembley has hosted many other sporting events, including the rugby league Challenge Cup final.

[edit] Other stadia

[edit] Rugby Union

Rugby union is also well established in London, especially in the middle-class suburbs to the north and west of the city. Four of the twelve clubs in the Guinness Premiership have London origins. London Irish, Saracens and Wasps share football grounds just outside the boundaries of Greater London, but in the metropolitan area. Harlequins, relegated to National Division One after the 2004/05 season, but promoted back for the 2006-07 season still play in Greater London. In more recent years, a modern traditiona has seen all four London clubs play out of Twickenham during the first round of the Guinness Premiership, in a double-header. Apart from the elite clubs, the London Welsh compete in National Division One.

The English national rugby stadium (Twickenham) is in Twickenham. The English national side play their home matches there during the Six Nations Championship, as well as the November inbound touring nations. The ground also hosted the 1991 Rugby World Cup final, where Australia defeated England. Twickenham has hosted the Anglo-Welsh Powergen Cup final in the past, as well as Heineken Cup finals, and will be hosting the 2006-07 Heineken Cup final. The stadium is also host to The Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge as well as the English school's Daily Mail Cup final. London was also home to the massive celebrations for the English rugby team when they returned home from Australia after winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup, where Jonny Wilkinson kicked a drop-goal in extra time. An estimated 750,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square to celebrate their arrival.

[edit] Rugby League

Rugby league is played in London. It admitted its first top flight professional London club in 1980 in the guise of Fulham, playing at Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham F.C. The club changed its name to London Crusaders and then London Broncos, yet whilst being a member of the elite Super League competition, it ran into financial difficulties and in 2005 it merged with Harlequins to create Harlequins Rugby League.

Another London club in the professional ranks of the game is London Skolars (based in Haringey) who play National League Two.

Amateur and grassroots rugby league has a strong presence in London. Greenwich Admirals (Woolwich), Kingston Warriors (Esher) and South London Storm (Croydon) all play in the Rugby League Conference. Many more clubs and second teams in London and the surrounding area play in the London League.

[edit] Cricket

London has two Test cricket grounds: Lord's and The Oval. Lord's, located in the leafy suburb of St John's Wood, is home of Middlesex CCC and The MCC. The Oval in Kennington, home of Surrey CCC, hosted the first FA Cup final and continued to do so (bar 1873) up until 1892. It also hosted the England's the first home international football match. The Oval also holds an annual exhibition match for Australian rules football.

[edit] Tennis

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, home of the Wimbledon Championships, is in Wimbledon in south London. London is also home to Queen's Club, a prestigious sports club that hosts the annual Queen's Club Championships.

[edit] Other sports

The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in South London hosts an athletics track and is often use for national meetings. Other athletics venues include Mile End Stadium in east London and Perivale Park in the west.

London also had an ice hockey team, London Racers (who played at the Lee Valley Ice Centre). On November 21, 2005, the Racers withdrew from the Elite Ice Hockey League and suspended operations.

London Towers is the city's top-tier basketball team. The team plays its home games at Crystal Palace.

There are other teams in London that are in the lower tiers of both hockey and basketball. Neither of these sports draws nearly the large number of spectators that football does.

Between 1991 and 1998, the London Monarchs competed in American football's NFL Europe, winning the inaugural World Bowl. Today, the London O's are the reigning champions of the British American Football League.

Every April since 1981, London has hosted one of the world's largest mass-participation marathons, the London Marathon.<ref>Flora London Marathon - Background www.london-marathon.co.uk</ref> The River Thames is the venue for the Boat Race, held between Oxford and Cambridge universities every year from Putney to Mortlake.

Sport in London

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