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Seven winning ways to relive the London Olympics

As Rio prepares to host sport’s biggest spectacle, here are seven ways to relive the drama of London 2012

By Louise Schwartzkoff
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Remember that summer we hosted the Olympics? Yeah, fun times. Neighbours doing 'the Mo' at each other, Games Makers swaggering around like rock stars – the capital was completely transformed for two weeks of sweaty sport. So, as the baton is passed over to Rio de Janeiro, here are seven ways to relive the excitement of London 2012.

Get in the spirit with the best bars for drinking caipirinhas and our favourite Rio Olympics screenings in London.

Olympic Cauldron, Museum of London
© Jason Alden

1. See the Olympic cauldron

Museums History Barbican

There were gasps of wonder around the world as the burning petals of London’s Olympic cauldron rose to form a ball of flame. After its brief but brilliant career, Thomas Heatherwick’s creation has retired to the Museum of London, where it is on display in a permanent exhibition that traces its journey from design to the opening and closing ceremonies.

Museum of London. St Paul's. Free.

2. Cycle like a champion

Sport and fitness Stadiums Olympic Park

London went cycle-crazy during the 2012 Olympics – probably because Team GB was doing some serious winning at the Lee Valley Velopark. The venue is now open to everyone from pros to newbies. At the hourlong Track Taster sessions you’ll learn to whiz around the velodrome track. During Rio’s Games, special Olympic-themed Tasters offer the chance to finish the session with a flying competitive lap.

Track Taster sessions. Lee Valley VeloPark. Stratford International rail. £40, Olympic Special Track Taster £50.

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3. Have a go at para-sports

Get set for the Paralympics with a fest of inclusive sport and disability art. At the National Paralympic Day and Liberty Festival you can have a go at para-sports. There’ll be music, theatre and dance, as well as wheelchair dancing workshops and an outing from mobile boogie venue The Big Dance Bus.

National Paralympic Day and Liberty Festival 2016. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Stratford. Sep 3. Free.

4. Unleash your competitive side

Things to do Sport events

During the Olympics, there’s a lot of talk about peace and friendship, but everyone likes to win, right? There are two chances to nab a prize at this week’s Dodgeballdayer fundraising event: one for the best dodgeballers and another for the best fancy dress. In the spirit of ruthless competition, we encourage you to pursue a double victory. Duck and dive to avoid flying balls while dressed in something gloriously outlandish. There will also be DJs, food and drink stalls, and an afterparty. Funds raised will go to the learning disability charity Mencap.

Dodgeballdayer. Wimbledon Rugby Club. Player registration £27.50, spectators £10.

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5. Splash around where Michael Phelps won gold

Sport and fitness Olympic Park

You might not be able to match the speed and technique that bagged Michael Phelps six medals in London, but you can share some of his glory by swimming in the same water. The London Aquatics Centre has sessions to suit all swimmers. For splash-and-giggle types, the summer holidays are the perfect chance to dive in, with Extreme Aqua Splash, a floating obstacle course taking up residence in the former Olympic Competition Pool.

Extreme Aqua Splash. London Aquatics Centre. Various times throughout the summer holidays. £7.50.

6. Ride the rapids that challenged the champs

Sport and fitness Stadiums Waltham Cross

The purpose-built Lee Valley White Water Centre was the location for the slalom canoeing at London’s Games. It takes enormous skill and strength to win Olympic gold by wrestling a canoe across rapids and through a series of gates, but non-Olympians can ride the waves at the venue’s White Water Raft Adventures, with a guide to help navigate the drops and eddies. Cheaper sessions are available on Fast & Furious Fridays, followed by live music and happy hour at the bar.

White Water Raft Adventure. Lee Valley White Water Centre. Wed-Sun. From £38 on Fridays, £50 at regular sessions.

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7. Learn the secrets of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Athletes aren’t the only people who get to show off at the Olympics. The Games offer architects a chance to pull out all the stops. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is full of marvels, from the wave-shaped roof of the Aquatic Centre to the gleaming Copper Box Arena. Open- City’s Olympics and Beyond walking tour takes in some of the gems and delves into the area’s history.

Olympics and Beyond walking tour. Meet outside the main entrance of Stratford tube station. Sat Aug 20. £25.50.

Find where to watch the Rio Olympics

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© Rob Greig

Rio 2016 screenings in London

Things to do Sport events

Rio de Janeiro, the location of the Olympics Games, might be bloomin' miles away, but that doesn't mean you have to leave the city to catch a glimpse of it. You can get in on all the Rio Olympics 2016 action and atmosphere via the capital's copious coverage of the big event on little and large screens all over the place. 

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