The 2016 Olympics from A-to-Z: A guide to the terms that will define the Rio Games

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It goes without saying that the 2016 Rio Olympics will feature dazzling spectacles of athletic grace and, given its location, a fair amount of colorful celebration. Those are the highlights. Truth is, the Summer Games encompass 306 events in 42 sports held over the course of 19 days this August. That means for every "oh wow" moment, there'll be twice as many instances of "what the..." for viewers watching at home.

To that end, we've prepped a glossary to introduce Olympic viewers to the terms besides caipirinha and samba that'll get you through the Games.

Amanar: Also known as a shewfelt, is a gymnastics vault consisting of two and a half twists in the backward salto. The maneuver, which Kerri Strug famously landed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is a staple in Simone Biles’ arsenal. Only, Biles twists a full extra turn in her rotation.

The Biles: A double layout with a half twist, notably landed in competition in the 2013 World Championship, which has come to be known for the gymnast.


Chef de Tapis: The chairman of the three mat officials in a wrestling match, who breaks a tie vote between the referee and judge. Does not wear crocs. We checked.

Doping: Ah, the Olympics. Home of the pinnacle of international competition, memorable moments ... and the largest doping scandals to rock global sports. This year, Russia’s Olympic team have been subject to a potential ban due to a doping scandal that would've sidelined its nearly 400 athletes. Twelve days before the Games, the IOC relented and allowed Russian athletes a reprieve, provided their testing stands up the the scrutiny of individual sports federations.

Épée: At up to 750 grams, the heaviest of the three blades found in competitive fencing (sabre and foil are the others), which has been around as a sport since the 15th or 16th century and been featured in the Games since 1896. Venezuela’s Rubén Limardo looks to defend his 2012 gold, the first for a Latin American country in 108 years.

Facial: The lowest moment of any athletic competitor's career, particularly those involved in propulsive sports. Occurs when an opponent launches the object of play or him/herself into the face of his/her defender in a winning effort. (see: Vince Carter v. Frédéric Weis, circa 2000.)

Gallop: Swim style frequently employed by male swimmers ... and Katie Ledecky. Instead of steady, even strokes alternating on either side, Ledecky — like Michael Phelps — goes with a shorter left-hand stroke and a longer right allowing her to breathe almost exclusively to the right side. Also known as a giddy-up.

Hamstring: The most unreliable muscle in track and field. Plenty of past Olympic stars have bowed out of this year’s Games for a myriad of reasons — health concerns, safety risks, Pokémon Go came out. However, injuries have taken out some key names in track and field. Team USA’s Sanya Richards-Ross, who won Gold in the 400-meter in London, tore her hamstring weeks before the 400-meter prelims. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who’s established himself as a household name in past Games, will remain on his country’s team after tearing his own hamstring and sitting out trials.

Kanak Jha: Thanks to Kanak Jha, it’s now very easy to feel unaccomplished and elderly at the same time. The 16-year-old virtuoso table tennis player is the first U.S. athlete to be born in the 2000s and qualify for the Olympics. But just because Jha has never used a landline doesn’t mean he can’t hold his own as he won the North American Olympic Qualification Tournament in April despite the fact that he has only ever been able to watch Seinfeld on re-runs.

Kong: Beach volleyball slang for a one-handed block at the net, usually made when a blocker is late. So named for the swatting motion depicted by King Kong.

Logos: The most significant symbol of the Olympics is the five interlocking rings, which at the time of the Games' inception, represented the five inhabited continents. The other significant logo this year is the Rio 2016 symbol, which is three people holding hands and aims to promote harmony.

Maracanã: Legendary soccer stadium built for the 1950 World Cup (Brazil lost to Uruguay, 2-1), which will serve as the venue for Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Abuts the Maracanãzinho, site of the volleyball finals; sits in the Maracanã neighborhood alongside the Rio Maracanã.

The Olympic Stadium, still under construction for this summer's games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Poomsae: A taekwondo floor exercise against an imaginary opponent, Poomsae is one of the more fluid, yet fierce competitions in the sport. As competitive matches heat up, look out for Team USA’s Steven Lopez to take his crack at Olympic Gold after losing in the first round of London 2012 while attempting to fight with a broken leg. Fresh from injury, Lopez is looking to be the oldest Olympian to compete in the games. Just make sure someone has classic '80s movie Best Of The Best ready if he does.

Regime: System for accomplishing goals, of particular importance to the Team USA's men's basketball and U.S. women's national soccer team. Both teams field some of the best players in the world, both teams come into Rio 2016 as heavy favorites, and both teams are looking to defend their gold-medal status despite staff turnover. As the men look to the post-LeBron James era and the USWNT moves on from Abby Wambach, two historically dominant programs will institute entirely new methods.

Shuttlecock: Cone-shaped projectile featuring 16 feathers affixed to a synthetic base for use in badminton; the primary means of destruction via China's Lin Dan, aka "Super Dan," who seeks his third consecutive gold medal in men's singles.

Sugarloaf Mountain: The most famous backdrop in Rio, be ready to see the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain all up and down your Instagram and Tumblr feeds.

T1: Triathlon speak for the transition from swim to bike, where Gwen Jorgensen dominates

T2: Triathlon-speak for the transition from bike to run, where Gwen Jorgensen also dominates.

Ten-ring: The center-most ring in a target; inner area worth 10.9 points in scoring in both precision and rifle shooting; the area where three-time gold medalist Kim Rhode lives.

Third Pull: The most explosive movement in weightlifting. In both the snatch and clean and jerk, competitors begin by heaving the bar from floor to knee, and then from knee to hip. The third motion requires lifters to throw the bar into the air and pull themselves underneath it in one fell swoop. It's lit.


Temer, Michel: Brazil's Interim President. How’s this for a job: Come into the presidency of a nation where the incumbent is in the process of being impeached. Oh, and you have to oversee the world’s BIGGEST athletic competition in the process.

Torch: The history of the Olympic torch is similar to Donald Trump in that it’s long, hot and orange. The flame itself is a symbol of the positive life-giving attributes of fire and was first introduced in the Summer Games in 1936. Before the flame makes it to the games, it becomes the focal point of a torch relay beginning several months prior. The 2016 torch relay began on April 21, in Olympia, Greece and was routed through Switzerland to Brazil. Typically the final torchbearer who lights the Olympic Cauldron is a notable figure in the games' home country (see: Wayne Gretzky in Vancouver in 2010, Muhammad Ali in Atlanta in 1996). There has been no word on who Brazil will choose. Deciding between Gisele and Pelé can't be easy.

Upshot: The final shot in an archery contest. Making its Olympic debut in Paris 1900, archery brings the fabled stories of Robin of Locksley and Legolas to real life. The Republic of Korea is regarded as the favorite, as they’ve medaled in the last eight Games. But if someone can land the fabled "Robin Hood Shot," we will be most impressed.

Velodrome: The banked indoor arena used for the cycling events was the last of the Rio's oft-delayed venues to be completed, but not without one almost embarrassing mistake. A German company tasked with completing the construction of the arena seemed to leave a dastardly reminder of their country’s recent dominance over the host country Brazil. The phrase "7-1" was inscribed in wet cement in the walls of the Velodrome as a harsh reminder of Germany’s 7-1 onslaught over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup. Luckily, Brazilian workers found the inscription before the cement could dry, saving their country from more embarrassment.

Village: The largest athlete's village in Olympic history will feature 31 newly constructed buildings covering a little over a mile of land to house more than 18,000 people, 10,000 of them athletes.

Zika: The end of this list but the beginning of the problems for Rio 2016, the Zika virus has led to many of the world’s best athletes pulling out of representing their respective countries in fear of their safety and health. The virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, has been regarded as the leading candidate of the 1,600 cases of the birth defect Microcephaly, as well as being linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nervous disorder. As Brazilian officials continue to downplay the severity of the virus and athletes catching it, it’s raised the biggest red flag and largest controversy of these Olympic Games.