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The Goldathon: are you prepared for the busiest day of the Games?

There are 32 gold medals up for grabs today. Make sure you don't miss a single minute with Tim Dowling's guide to Golden Saturday...

Published: Friday, 10th August 2012 at 11:01 pm

Golden Saturday, from 9:00am, BBC1 


After two weeks of Olympic-level viewing you will be feeling the strain. You’re probably exhausted. You may be planning to wind down and coast gently to the closing ceremony. Well, I’m afraid it’s not over yet. In fact, viewer, your biggest challenge is still ahead of you.

Get ready for the most gruelling Olympic battle of the entire fortnight: yes, it’s the Armchair Triacontathlon - plus two.

You see, there are no fewer than 32 gold medals up for grabs on Saturday, and it may just be possible for the dedicated spectator to watch them all. To complete this challenge you will need the following: a telly; comfortable seating; a remote control with a red button (and extra batteries); drinking water and, for safety, elasticated flight socks. Do some stretching, settle down and let the games begin!


We kick off early: 9am marks the start of the men's 50km walk. This is that sport where competitors waddle along the road as if they're wearing borrowed underwear. The current world record for the 50km race is 3 hours, 34 minutes, so once it's started, get ready to switch over.


The next events come in rapid succession, from 9:30am: men's kayak single, men's canoe single, women's kayak and men's kayak double, all in the space of an hour. You may not be able to catch every medal ceremony, but that's OK. It's the finish line that counts.


You've got time for a quick break. Get some fluids down you, eat a banana, maybe take a turn in the warm down pool, if you've got one handy. You need to be fit and focused for the women's Elliott 6m sailing race at midday. Six metres is the length of the boat rather than the course, by the way. Sorry.


In the meantime the women's mountain bike final is kicking off. There's another break at lunchtime, but not for you: the 50km walk should be finishing up just after 1pm. You will be eating lunch where you're sitting, I'm afraid.


1:30pm sees the start of the rhythmic gymnastic finals, ie dancing about with hoops and sticks. It's women only (participants, not viewers) and because they compete in four rotations, there will be a lot of things going on at once. Relax, let the TV do the work. On the other side, the men's football final has already begun - don't panic.


This is when the women's 20km walk begins but it's best to watch the first 5km, and move on. You're going to need another break about now. Have a coffee. Have two. Watch a bit of regular TV to keep yourself awake (not Antiques Road Trip). Put on your headphones and listen to power ballads. Remember: you're in this for the long haul.


Wrestling is at 6:25pm. This is going to make your head swim: three weight classes kicking off at once. Meanwhile, the women's volleyball is starting in five minutes. Keep your finger on the red button, and switch from coffee to beer.


The start of the men's modern pentathlon. There have been calls to remove this event from the Olympic Games. The IOC might get round to considering that option one day, but for you there is no escape.

One of its problems is that, despite the name, it's not very modern - the shooting, swimming, show jumping, fencing and running combination was conceived as the test of a good solider back in 1912. Imagine escaping from a Bavarian castle fortress, and you've got the basic idea. This used to take several days to complete, but it's been boiled down for your viewing pleasure.

Even so, you might want to skip it for the rapid-fire awarding of athletics medals in the Olympic Stadium, beginning with the women's high jump final at 7pm.


There's hockey, boxing, diving, handball, and more athletics. You have now hit what many experienced viewers call the wall: your faculties desert you, and your body begins to shut down. It's a good thing you're only watching television.


The women's basketball gold medal match, plus three boxing matches, but they'll go by quickly. It may be time to pour water over your head.



Blink! Focus on the screen: if you can see taekwondo, you're nearly home. It's the men's final in the 80kg class, but that won't mean much to you now. Never mind. Your Armchair Triacontathlon (+2) is over. Hit the showers.


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