English sports vocabulary - the London Olympics | DailyStep English

English sports vocabulary - the London Olympics

This is Jane Lawson's Audio Blog #052 at DailyStep English

Hello, I’m Jane at DailyStep English and welcome to my Audio Blog.


Here in London, it is the time that we have been planning for, talking about, arguing about and worrying about for the last 7 years. Yes, I am talking about the Olympic Games! It’s a big moment for London, a chance for us to showcase our country on the world stage. So in this blog, I’ll tell you a little about how we British people feel about hosting the Olympic Games. Then in the Audio Word Study, I’ll teach you some common Olympic expressions.


So, let’s move on now to the Olympic Games.

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The Olympic Games in Britain
 (by Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com)

The 7-year build up to the Olympic Games in London has not been easy. Since the news in 2005 that we would be hosting the Games, there has been a global financial crash and a long recession. The cost of hosting the Games has risen from the original estimate of two point four billion pounds (£2.4bn) to whatever figure it is now – the most recent estimate is high as eleven billion pounds (£11bn)! You can imagine how unpopular that has been with the British people, now that money is so tight! On top of that, we have been sick of hearing all the rules stipulated by the Olympic Committee, banning us from using the Olympics to promote our businesses. For example, a butcher was told that it was against the law for him to arrange sausages in the shape of the 5 Olympic rings! We have also been pretty annoyed that two of the biggest sponsors are MacDonald’s and Coca Cola and that all their profits will be tax free and that… well, in short, many British people were feeling cynical and fed up with the Olympics before it even started.

But since the Olympic Opening Ceremony on 27th July, we have all suddenly gone Olympics crazy! I can’t quite believe it, but it seems that nearly all we can talk about now is how great the Olympics are and how much we are enjoying watching the world’s greatest athletes compete at the highest level. There has never been this level of interest in the Olympics when it is in other countries – it’s something to do with it being hosted here in Britain. Tickets to any events are now impossible to get hold of, and you can’t even get into the Olympic Park in east London, as it is completely booked up.

I thought the Opening Ceremony itself was amazing – it was like a short history of Britain, even if parts of it were rather idealised! Some of the most famous characters in British history were represented, such as the great engineer, Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel. You can learn all about him in the level 4 subscriber audio lessons over the next 2 weeks. I really loved all the music included in the ceremony – it’s such an important part of our culture, and I thought that in all its spectacular fun, chaos and colour, the show managed to capture something about the essence ofBritishness. Then, when the Olympic flame was carried along the River Thames by David Beckham in a speedboat, and handed to Steve Redgrave, our greatest Olympic athlete, to bring into the stadium, we were all wondering who would finally light the Olympic cauldron. The idea to use unknown athletes to light it was truly inspired, and the cauldron itself, which you can see in the picture, was made up of 204 parts, each one representing a country competing in the Olympics.

My favourite events to watch so far have been the athletics and gymnastics. Of course I love watching our British athletes, but it’s great to see any athlete win a medal – their emotion and sheer determination is so inspiring. 

So, let’s move on now to our Audio Word Study, where you can learn some common expressions associated with the Olympic Games.

Here is Audio Word Study #052 from Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com

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I hope you enjoyed the audio article above about the Olympics! In this DailyStep Audio Word Study, you can learn the correct way to use common expressions related to the Olympics and sport. Remember, always learn the whole structure of an expression, including the prepositions – those little words such as in, on and atare so important if you want to speak correct English!


1. Win a gold medal

Meaning: You don’t need me to tell you what winning a gold medal means! It means that you an  Olympic champion!

Example: Andy Murray won the gold medal in the men’s singles tennis, beating Roger Federer in straight sets at the Queen’s Club in Wimbledon. This was great for Murray, as he had lost to Federer on the same tennis court only a few weeks earlier, in the Wimbledon final.


2. To be a gold, silver or bronze medallist

Meaning: If you win a medal, you become an Olympic medallist.

Example: Two brothers, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, were both medallists in the Olympic triathlon, with Alistair taking the gold medal and Jonny being the bronze medallist. Their mother must be very proud!


3. Be in first place / Come first in a competition

Meaning: If you are in first place, you win the competition. If you are in last place, you lose the competition.

Example: Bradley Wiggins came first in the Tour de France cycle race recently, and then he was also in first place in the Olympic Road Time trial cycling event, winning the gold medal. What a year for Bradley Wiggins!


4. Beat someone at something

Meaning: If you beat someone, you win against them, achieving a better result in the competition.

Example: In the women’s 100 metre hurdles, the Australian Sally Pearson narrowly beat American Dawn Harper, but only by 0.2 of a second. It was an extremely close race but Sally took the gold! (note: if you narrowly beat someone, you beat them by a very small amount.)


5. Beat your personal best

Meaning: If you beat your personal best, you achieve a better score than you have ever achieved before.

Example: Dawn Harper won the silver in the women’s 100 metre hurdles and she also beat her personal best by two tenths of a second. (note: this means that her race time was 0.2 seconds faster than her previous fastest time.)


6. Reach the final in something

Meaning: If you reach the final in an Olympic competition, you reach the last stage, where the winner will get the gold medal.

Example: It was great to see Kirani James of Grenada not only reach the men’s 400 metre final, but then go on to win Grenada’s first ever gold medal as well!


7. Be knocked out in a heat

Meaning: To leave the competition because you did not reach the final stage

Example: Chinese former champion Liu Xiang was knocked out in the first heat of the 110 metre hurdles, as he had an injury. He had to leave the track in a wheelchair. (note: a heat is a qualifying round in a competition. The winners of the heats are the ones who reach the final.)


Now, try to write your own sentences using these expressions. Perhaps you can make sentences about your own country’s Olympic team, as this will help you to remember them better.

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Well, that is it for today! I’ll be in touch again soon. Thank you for your many requests about subjects you would like me to cover in my blogs. I will cover as many of them as I can!


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