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Sports Idioms in English.


Sports and Atheletics Vocabulary

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You will hear a recording of a radio sports report. For question 1-9, complete the notes. You will need to write a number, a letter or a few words.

Football results

  1. England _____ South Korea _____
  2. Germany _____ Costa Rica _____
  3. Holland _____ USA _____
  4. Argentina _____ Austria _____
  5. Italy _____ Lithuania _____


Has a fight between Manuel Fernandez and Barry Jason definitely been arranged? (Write yes/no) _________


Who won last year's European title?
  1. Philip Johnston
  2. Bruce Chappell
  3. Christian Bernhard
Why is Christian Bernhard not playing in this year's competition? __________


How many time has Marina Stieff already won the Tournament _______________?


Good morning. Peter Gordon has stolen the headlines again after scoring four goals in England's five-nil defeat of South Korea in the second round of the World Cup Competition. Fellow England player Graham Lasky got the fifth goal. Elsewhere the cupholders Germany scored three goals in the last fifteen minutes to beat Costa Rica four-one. Holland beat the USA five-nil, and Argentina scored two late goals to beat Austria three-one. Two players were sent off in Italy's two-nil defeat of Lithuania, Robert Rinaldi and Petris Kezys both taking early showers. On the boxing now. The manager of British heavyweight Barry Jason has played down reports that he's to fight Mexican Manuel Fernandez next year. Fernandez, who beat Rocky Cavallini at the London Arena on Tuesday said he'll fight Jason early next year but Jason's manager Dicky Clough said the fight is unlikely to take place.

In golf, Brucke Chappell defends his European Open title at the St Andrew's course in Scotland. Carrying the Australian's golf clubs for him today will be 18-year-old Philip Johnston, the Junior Champion at St Andrew's. Christian Benhardt misses that tournament because of a wrist injury but you can hear full reports from St Andrew's throughout the day here on Radio 5. Tennis. World number one Marina Stieff has entered the Midland Bank Tournament at Brighton later this month. She'll be aiming for a record-breaking fourth triumph and is already favourite to take the first place.


Choose someone you would like to nominate for the title of world's greatest sports person. Write down five facts about them.
Tell the other students the facts about your sports person and see who can guess their identity first.


Student A:
  1. He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1963.
  2. He starred in the hit movie 'Space Jam'.
  3. He is 2m3cm tall.
  4. He is well-known for his endorsement of many consumer products.
  5. He retired from playing basketball in 1999.
Student B: Michael Jordan?

Exam focus

Reading: (multiple matching)

Exam task

Answer questions 1-14 by referring to the article about athletes. For questions 1-14, answer by choosing from the list (A-D) on the right below. Some of the choices may be required more than once.

Which althlete ...

  1. ran two long distance events in one Olympics
  2. nearly died between winning their first and second Olympic Games?
  3. won the competition despite intense suffering?
  4. would consciously do badly on certain occasions?
  5. suffered physical injury due to the lack of a common household item?
  6. had a third Olympic victory which seemed almost miraculous?
  7. has impressed the writer by their courage as much as their continuing athletic achievement?
  8. won his Olympic event more than three times?
  9. ignored their doctor's advice?
  10. was believed to be too badly injured to return to competitive athletics?
  11. ran in conditions that they were quite unused to?
  12. in one competition thought everything depended on the first attempt?
  13. suffered physical injury during an opening ceremony?
  14. deliberately trained at an unusual time?
  1. Daley Thompson
  2. Al Oerter
  3. Ron Clarke
  4. Ana Quirot
3 quirot


There is some intangible element that separates the champion from the also-ran. Doubtless the geneticists will be able to isolate it one day and implant it, but for the time being, we can only marvel at the men and women who win whatever the odds. Like double Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson, who would train on Christmas Day, strengthened, he said, by the knowledge that none of his competitors would be doing the same. Thompson would also try to reproduce the pressure of competition by deliberately doing poorly in the first two attempts at one of his disciplines (the shot put, for example) in order to force himself to throw the best on the third attempt, since that's how many chances he would get in proper competition. And indeed, Thompson would regularly pull out a winner in exactly those circumstances, when all seemed lost.
But more remarkable still are those champions who overcome injury, tragedy, war and oppression to get to the top. Al Oerter stands in the front rank. On the face of it, Oerter's four successive Olympic gold medals in the discus mark him out as a man who transcended competition. Yet Oerter had to face setbacks which would have defied any ordinary athlete to even get to two of those Games.

Oerter lived on the East Coast of the USA, a continent away from the Californian sunshine under which the majority of his competitors trained. But that was a minor inconvenience compared with the almost fatal car crash he survived between his 'surprise' Olympic gold at the age of 20 in Melbourne 1956 and his incredible triumph in Rome four years later, where he won again. But his victory in Tokyo in 1964 after a series of grave physical injuries was the sort of comeback which is normally associated with a visit to Lourdes*. After Rome, Oerter began to suffer from chronic cervical disc injury, which required him to wear a neck brace. Undaunted, he continued to train and compete. If that wasn't bad enough, a week before Tokyo he tore a cartilage in his lower rib

Doctors advised six weeks' rest, but after a shot of Novocaine, and with an ice pack taped to his side (and his neck brace on), Oerter went out and set an Olympic record in qualifying. But in the final, he faced Ludvik Danek, who hadn't lost in 45 competitions. Oerter told a colleague, 'If I don't do it on the first throw, I won't be able to do it all.' He didn't do it on his first throw. Out of the medals after four attempts, he gave it everything he'd got on his fifth. Oerter was probably the only person in the stadium not watching the discus as it winged its way to another Olympic record - he was doubled up with pain. But he had won again as he did, albeit in less heroic circumstances, in the next Olympics.

* Lourdes: a small town in SW France considered by Roman Catholics to be a holy place. Many sick people go there to be cured.
C Multiple world record holder Ron Clarke of 60 Australia was another great athlete who suffered excruciating pain in the pursuit of his goal in the Olympic 10,000 metres in Mexico in 1968. Athletes had been warned that the thin air at altitude could affect them badly; there were even fears for their lives. The Australian team doctor was moved to agree when Clarke collapsed in his arms after finishing as first non-altitude runner in fifth place, and had to be administered oxygen while unconscious for ten minutes.

It wasn't the first time that Clarke had been forced to withstand extreme pain in the pursuit of glory. When the Olympics were in Melbourne in 1956, Clarke, then the world's leading junior miler, was chosen to light the Olympic flame. But the torch had been overloaded with magnesium, and inextinguishable burning matter fell on the youngster's arm as he mounted the steps. Uncomplaining, he continued and duly lit the cauldron. He spent the rest of the ceremony having medical treatment.

In Mexico, Clarke returned later in the week to contest his other distance, the 5,000 metres. But the Aussie is convinced that the so heart condition, which he now suffers so badly that he can barely jog three kilometres without stopping, is a direct result of pushing himself to the limit.
D But the Grand Prix for courage in the face of overwhelming adversity must go to Ana Quirot. World 800 metres silver 85 medallist in 1991 and Olympic bronze medallist the following year, Quirot was at home in Cuba a few months later, preparing to give birth to her first child when she was victim of a horrific domestic accident.

Because soap powder can be difficult to get, clothes are often boiled in an alcoholic spirit. Quirot's wash literally exploded on the stove and into her face and body. She suffered third degree burns to much of her skin, lost her child and almost died. She spent months in hospital, followed by years of skin grafts, and the odds against her returning to athletics, let alone winning anything, seemed astronomical.

There was surprise when she resumed her training in early 1994, amazement when she turned out for the Pan-American Games later that year, and incredulity when she won the silver medal.

We ran out of superlatives the following year when Quirot not only returned to the highest level of competition, but won the World 800 metres title in Goteborg, in the fastest time of the year. Quirot was already a much admired athlete. But she has won many more fans, not simply by her comeback after such adversity, nor for her victories, but by the manner in which she has comported herself. Her willingness to face up to the camera with pride and defiance has been a source of inspiration to everyone who has encountered her.
4 Now Match the words to the definitions.

Top Down

Get the top one right first, then work down otherwise you'll mess up the ones you have already matched up correctly.

  1. The shot put
    A to produce the throw, score the goal etc, often unexpectedly , which results in a victory.
  2. set a record
    B an event where you try to throw a heavy metal ball as far as possible (Javalin is a kind of spear)
  3. The discus
    C An event where you to throw a heavy plate shaped object as far as possible.
  4. A setback
    D something that delays or prevent progress, or makes things worse than they were.
  5. A come back
    E doing well again after being absent or unsuccessful for a period of time
  6. To pull out a winner F
    to run a race faster, jump further, etc., than anyone else ever has
  7. The pursuit of glory
    G the act of trying to achieve fame and honour in a determined way
  8. A bronze medalist
    H is Someone who has come third in a competition Eg The Olympics
  9. also-ran
    I practising your event or sport again, after a period of absence
  10. the decathlon
    J Someone who failed to win a competition.
  11. To resume training
    K A competition including ten different sports.
a layoff / a come back Javalin , shot put , pole vault, discus , long jump, high jump, triple jump, hammer throw , hurdles ,100m , 400m ? rival team figure skating
Complete the gaps in the following sentences with one of the words from the box in the correct form.
glory decathlon setback pull resume put competitor bronze comeback set

  1. It was amazing. They ____out a winner by scoring in the last minute.
  2. After being 3-0 down they made an amazing ____and finally drew 3-3.
  3. Jack Reeves has ____a new world record for the second time this year.
  4. I will ____training as soon as my ankle injury has healed up.
  5. After many ____she will be entering her first major competition for some time in the summer.
  6. I'm afraid he was not very happy about being the ____medallist. He could only think of gold.
  7. Do you know the ten different events that make up the ____?
  8. It's the never-ending pursuit of ____which keeps these athletes training month after month.
  9. Don't you have to be pretty big to be good at the shot ____?
  10. Two of the ____failed to turn up for the race.
Discuss these questions.
  • If a bronze medal is for third place, what are for first and second places?
  • There are 'track' events and 'field' events. Apart from the discus and shot put, what other field events do you know?
  • What different events are involved in the decathlon?
  • Do you know any matches or sporting occasions when a team or player has pulled out a winner at the last moment?
    1. Name a sportsperson who has had a number of setbacks in their career,
    2. Name a sportsperson who has made a comeback after a period of absence.
  • Why do you think some athletes are so driven by the 'pursuit of glory'?
  • 7

    Problem Solving Task (Speaking)

    Work with another student or the teacher. Imagine you are considering ways to encourage people to do more sports or exercise. Below are some ideas for you to consider. Talk to each other about the different ideas and try and decide which would be the most effective.
    8 Now listen to two people doing Exercise I. As you listen, make a note of:
    • three expressions used to make an additional point
    • three expressions used to indicate lack of complete agreement
    9 Discuss the following questions with another student. Where appropriate, use the expressions you made a note of earlier.
    1. How important do you think it is that ordinary people take regular exercise?
    2. Do you think the way some people become dedicated fans of a particular team is healthy or unhealthy? Why?
    3. Is there any real difference, do you think, between watching sport on TV and actually going to the event?
    4. What are the potential problems for child athletes who dedicate themselves to their sport?
    5. Do you think there is any problem with the role of business and advertising in sport today?
    6. Do you think the Olympic Games is more than just a big sports competition?

    Listening: no football for girls

    Discuss with other students. Do you think it is right that girls and boys should be separated in sports? If so, from what age should be separated? Do you think opportunities for boys and girls in general are equal these days? If not, why not? football
    11 How many exercises can you name and describe. Eg: Press ups. Lie down on the floor and keep your legs and body straight as you lift your body off the floor using your hands to press down on the floor.
    1. Bench press
    2. squats
    3. Chin ups
    4. Pull ups
    5. Star jumps
    There is one missing word in each of these sentences. Decide what it is and where it should go.
    1. You won't seen the notice saying that all tomorrow's events have been cancelled.
    2. She's about buy a new flat and move out of her parents'.
    3. Will you taking the binoculars with you to the match?
    4. What time is the match due kick off?
    5. It's impossible to know how fast people be running in a hundred years' time.
    6. They're on point of buying that empty land next to our house to turn into tennis courts.
    7. All students are assemble in front of the school for the awards ceremony.
    Complete each of these sentences in a logical way. 13
    1. I thought Tim's parents were very hard on him. First they said he couldn't go out with his friends for a whole week and on top of that...
    2. It's true that, on the whole, Kylie is a lovely person. Having said that though ...
    3. This government has reduced both inflation and unemployment. At the same time, we do need to remember that ...
    4. You know that Derek broke the record despite appalling weather conditions. What's more ...
    5. Did you know that Mr Deacon said he would come and give us all extra lessons just before the exam? Not only that ...

    Sports Holiday Letter of Complaint

    It really sounds like the holiday didn't match up to all the things they promised in the ad. What a shame! I do think they ought to do something to make up for your bad experience, especially as you'd been looking forward to the holiday so much. lf I were you I'd complain to the Director.

    By the way, my brother went on a similar kind of holiday this summer and he had a great time! So, if you want to know more about who he went with and so on - just let me know, OK?

    Anyway, good luck with it all and let me know what happens!

    Look at this paragraph plan for the letter to the Director of LangSports Co. Then complete the letter which has been started for you below in approximately 200 words.

    Paragraph plan

    1. Say who you are and give your reason for writing.
    2. Group your complaints logically e.g. organisation of course, sports training, social events (you may not be able to refer to all of them in the number of words available).
    3. State what you want done as a result of your complaint.
    4. Close.
    Dear Sir/Madam.

    I am writing as the result of my recent 2-week stay in Brighton on a LangSport Co. 'sports'break'

    Unfortunately the holiday was .......

    To begin with ......

    As a result of this experience, I think it is only fair if you ......

    I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

    Yours faithfully

    Fabiana Judice

    Prepare a plan for the note to your friend Tina. Then write the note.
    Complete the idioms, expression or phrasal verbs in this exercise
    1. Mr Gomm is the person who _____ the shots in this company. (to be in a position of control or authority)
    2. Our company has _____ new ground with its latest range of laptop computer. (to do something completely different from what has been done before)
    3. We'll have to go away and cost this carefully, but as a _____ figure I'd say that it'll be about two million dollars. (a number which is a guess, but which you believe is near the correct number)
    4. When manufacturers refused to play _____ , the company stopped buying. (to agree to work with or help someone in the way they have suggested)
    5. I'd like to _____ off the discussion with a few statistics. (to start a discussion or activity)
    6. We'd almost signed the contract when the other guys moved the _____ and said they wanted more money. (to change the rules while someone is trying to do something in order to make it more difficult for them)
    7. To play _____ , I'd allow an extra ten minutes, just in case. (to be careful and not take risks)
    8. London company requires a _____ player committed to quality management. (someone who is good at working closely with other people)
    9. The improvement has been across the _____ , with all divisions either increasing profits or reducing losses. (happening or having an effect on people at every level and in every area)
    10. She is one of the front-_____ in the contest. (the person, animal or organization that is most likely to win something)
    11. The school budget is going to be cut again this year, but then that's _____ for the course. (it is not good but it is normal or as you would expect)
    12. After a disappointing first half, united moved up a _____ and took control of the game. (to noticeably start to do something better, especially in sport)
    13. It's coming down to the _____ to get these done on time. (right at the end)
    14. Andy is asking for a salary increase, and I'm going to go to _____ for him if the boss says no.(defend someone)
    15. The children hold all the _____ when it comes to the father-son baseball tournament. (expected to win or succeed)
    16. The first week on the job you will just be learning the _____ . (understand new things)
    17. The spelling bee is a level playing _____ because all of the kids are in grade nine. (everyone has an equal chance)
    18. You were way off _____ when you said Bill needed to lose weight. (not making a fair or true remark)
    19. We are on _____ to meet our budget this month. (doing the right thing to succeed)
    20. If they don't accept our offer this time we are going to throw in the _____ and look at houses elsewhere. (give up)
    17 For question 1-16, complete the following article by writing the missing words in the space. use only one word for each space.

    The Alexander Technique

    If you're reading this leaning back in a comfortable armchair (1) _____ crouched over the table, you're probably not (2) _____ your back any good. And if, (3) _____ soon as you get home, you spend a couple of hours in an awkward position in (4) _____ of a computer, that won't help your body, (5) _____ . Even though we live in more comfortable circumstances than any previous generation, modern technology seems designed to give our bodies, or at (6) _____ our muscles and joints, a hard time. The Alexander technique is a system for retraining the body to react (7) _____ the natural grace of a young child, in (8) _____ words to get rid of all the bad habits we have acquired since then and start again. The first lessons consist (9) _____ very simple actions (10) _____ as sitting and standing and anyone watching might think that (11) _____ at all was happening. The teacher gradually corrects your posture, the idea being that you can eventually learn to do this for (12) _____ without anyone being there to guide you. It is not as easy as it sounds because the habits are ingrained; you can go though a whole session, concentrating on getting everything right, but it is no sooner over (13) _____ you may relapse and revert to doing (14) _____ you've always done. Even now, after two years' practice, when I sense that the session is coming to an (15) _____ , I often get up from the chair too quickly and have to repeat the action. But if you persevere with the technique, the body will be free from tension and (16) _____ a result you'll feel calmer and happier. Show
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