The Olympic Games are one of the most spectacular reminders of the debt we owe to the Greeks.
The original Olympic Games were held every four years in honour of Zeus, the supreme god of Greek religion. The first record of the games dates from 776 B.C., but it is certain that they existed prior to that. They were held continuously for over 1.000 years until they were abolished in the reign of King Theodosius about 392 A.D. The Olympic festival was a great unifying bond between the Independent city-states of Greece.
The important sports in the original Olympic Games were running, jumping, wrestling, throwing the discus and throwing the javelin. Only men competed and they wore no clothes in order to have greater freedom of movement. Each competitor had to take the Olympic Oath - a promise to behave in a sportsman-like fashion.
The modern Olympic era began in 1894 when Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin decided to revive the ancient Greek tradition of celebrating health, youth and peace with a sports festival. Baron de Coubertin created the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the first modem Olympiad took place in Athens in 1896. Since then the Olympic Games have been held every four years with only two exceptions because of the two world wars.
Even though the modern Olympic Games embrace the whole world, the connection with Greece is still very strong. A lighted torch is brought all the way from Greece, carried by a relay of runners, in order to light the Olympic Flame which bums all through the Games. As in ancient Greek times, the competitors still take the Olympic Oath. The long-distance race is still called the Marathon. Marathon was a village about 26 miles from Athens. In the year 490 BC the Greeks defeated a powerful Persian army at that spot. After the fierce day's fighting a soldier volunteered to bring news of the victory to the anxious citizens of Athens. He ran all the way and after gasping out the message. "Rejoice, we conquer!" he collapsed and died.
One important rule of the Olympic Games is that the competitors must be amateurs. This rule has been under a lot of pressure in recent years because modem sport is so professional and competitive. Athletes train for years to take part in the Olympics and some countries spend much more than others on equipment and facilities. But despite these pressures, the amateur rule remains.
In modern times the Olympic movement has become an enormous and expensive organisation, It's controlled by the International Olympic Committee, which consists of members from all the participating countries. The IOC is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It chooses the locations of both summer and winter games (both take place once very four years, with winter games half a year before summer Olympiads). It also controls the rules of the competitions and selects new Olympic sports. The famous flag of the IOC shows five rings of different colours linked together. The rings represent the five continents.
Many kinds of sport originated from England. The English have a proverb, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". They do not think that play is more important than work; they think that Jack will do his work better if he plays as well. so he is encouraged to do both. Association football, or soccer is one of the most popular games in the British Isles played from late August until the beginning of May. In summer the English national sport is cricket. When the English say: "that's not cricket" it means "that's not fair", "to play the game" means "to be fair".
Golf is Scotland's chief contribution to British sport. It is worth noting here an interesting feature of sporting life in Britain, namely, its frequently close connections with social class of the players or spectators except where a game may be said to be a "national" sport. This is the case with cricket in England which is played and watched by all classes. This is true of golf, which is everywhere in the British Isles a middle-class activity. Rugby Union. the amateur variety of Rugby football, is the Welsh national sport played by all sections of society whereas, elsewhere, it too is a game for the middle classes. Association football is a working-class sport as are boxing, wrestling, snooker, darts, and dog-racing. As far as fishing is concerned it is a sport where what is caught determines the class of a fisherman.
Walking and swimming are the two most popular sporting activities, being almost equally undertaken by men and women. Snooker (billiards), pool and darts are the next most popular sports among men. Aerobics (keep-fit exercises) and yoga. squash and cycling are among the sports where participation has been increasing in recent years.
There are several places in Britain associated with a particular kind of sport. One of them is Wimbledon where the All-England Lawn Tennis Championship are held in July (since 1877). The other one is Wembly - a stadium in north London where international football matches, the Cup Finals and other events have taken place since 1923.
Table tennis was first Invented in England in about 1880. At first the game had several strange names: Gossima. Whiff Whaff and Ping Pong. It wasn't until 1926 that the International Table Tennis Association was formed with international championships and rules.
Although the game was invented in England British players don't have much chance in international championships. It's the Chinese with their fantastic speed and power who win almost every title. Table tennis looks more like gymnastics when the Chinese start playing, with the ball flying over the net at speeds of over 150 kilometres per hour.
There are all kinds of racing in England - horse-racing, motor-car racing, boat-racing, dog-racing, and even races for donkeys. On sports days at school boys and girls run races, and even train for them. There is usually a mile race for older boys, and one who wins it is certainly a good runner.
Usually those who run a race go as fast as possible, but there are some races in which everybody has to go very carefully in order to avoid falling.
The most famous boat-race in England is between Oxford and Cambridge. It is rowed over a course on the River Thames, and thousands of people go to watch it. The eight rowers in each boat have great struggle, and at the end there is usually only a short distance between the winners and the losers.
The University boat-race started in 1820 and has been rowed on the Thames almost every spring since 1836.
Squash began at Harrow School in the mid-nineteenth century, but has since worked its way Into almost every city and district in Britain and throughout Europe.
Squash is one of the fastest games in the world. Two people play in a small confined space surrounded by high walls with no net to keep them apart. The aim is to get to the point at the centre of the court and to stay there.
Squash players hope that the game will make them stronger and fitter, but. like many sports, squash can be very dangerous. The most obvious danger is the small ball that shoots through the air extremely fast.
Windsurfing was invented in the mid-sixties by two southern Californian surfers, Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake. Surfers need strong rolling waves, and hate days of calm sea. Schweitzer noticed that on days when waves were not high enough to surf, there was often a strong wind and he set about finding a way to use it.
His first experiments Involved standing on his surfboard holding out a piece of sail cloth in his hands. Gradually he and Drake refined this idea into a basic design for a sailboard, similar to a surfboard, but holding a mast and a triangular sail which could be tilted and turned in any direction. The windsurfer operates a boom which controls the amount of wind in the sail, for speed and change of direction. Schweitzer immediately went into business designing and making the new sailboards and taking the idea abroad. By mid-seventies, the sport had spread to Holland, Germany and France.
London was host for the first time in 1908. With 1,500 competitors from 19 nations, the Games were by now an institution of world-wide significance. The programme, moreover, was augmented by the inclusion of Association football (which appeared in 1900 but only in a demonstration match), diving, field hockey, and ice hockey, as well as other sports since discontinued.
The most dramatic episode of these Games was in the marathon, run from Windsor to Shepherd's Bush in London, the site of a new stadium. Pietri (Italy) led into the arena but collapsed and was disqualified for accepting assistance from officials. The gold medal went to the second man home, Hayes (USA), but Queen Alexandra, who was present opposite the finishing line, was so moved by the Italian's plight that she awarded him special gold cup. The 400 metres provided an opportunity for Halswelle (GB) to become the only man in Olympic history to win by a walk-over. The final was declared void after an American had been disqualified for boring. Two other Americans withdrew from re-run final in protest, leaving Halswelle an unopposed passage. Britain won the polo, and all the boxing, lawn tennis, rackets, rowing, and yachting titles as well as five out of six cycle races.
1 .What do we owe to the Greeks?
2.How often were the original Olympic Games held?
3.When were the first Games held?
4.What were the important sports in the original Olympic Games?
5.Were women allowed to compete?
6.Why did the men wear no clothes?
7.What kind of Oath did each competitor have to take? S.When and where were the first modem Olympic Games held?
9.How often do the Olympic Games take place?
10.Is the connection with Greece still very strong?
11 Have the Olympic Games ever taken place in Great Britain?
12.Do the competitors still take the Olympic Oath?
13.When and where were the last Olympic Games held?
14.Was the participation of Russian sportsmen successful?
15.What British sports do you know?
16.What sports are popular in this country?
17.Do you go in for sports?
18.Do you ski and skate in winter?
19.What are summer sports?
20.Have you ever participated in any sport competition?