Life in the fast lane
Written by John Millen
Track and field 1
Track and field events at the Olympic Games are all about running, throwing and jumping as fast, as far and as high as possible. The first ancient Olympics were organised around running and throwing competitions that showed off the speed and strength of the best athletes and soldiers in Greece.
The Latin words of the Olympic motto, 'Citius, Altius, Fortius', mean faster, higher, stronger and this is exactly what athletes in the track and field events try to do. In the modern Olympics, track and field events have the highest profile of the entire Games, and when records are broken, it causes the loudest cheers and makes the biggest headlines.
Track events include short-, middle- and long-distance running, hurdling and relay races. Long jump, pole vault, shot put, discus, javelin and hammer are all field events.
1 The word 'altitude' - meaning the height of something - comes from which Latin word?
2 Which word usually goes together with the word 'nails'?
Track and field 2
Olympic track events are run round a 400-metre track inside the Olympic Stadium with thousands of spectators cheering on the runners. Field events usually take place inside the running track.
At the Beijing Games, the track and field competitions will be held in the National Stadium. The 2008 Beijing Marathon will start in Tiananmen Square and finish (to massive cheers!) in the National Stadium. The marathon is always one of the highlights of any Olympic Games. Combined events like the heptathlon and the decathlon, when athletes compete in a mixture of track and field events over a number of days, will also take place in the National Stadium.
Often field events take place at the same time as a race is being run on the running track.
3 What is a 'highlight'?
a) a light in the middle of a ceiling
b) the most interesting part of something
4 How many different events are involved in a 'decathlon'?
The Beijing National Stadium, which people are already calling the Bird's Nest, will be the main venue for the track and field events of the 2008 Olympic Games.
It will also host the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies which will be seen by millions
of television viewers all over the world.
During the Olympics, the Bird's Nest will welcome more than 100,00 excited spectators.
When the Games are finished, the seating capacity will be reduced to 80,000.
The stadium is 330 metres long by 220m wide and it is 69m tall.
The floor area where the athletes will compete covers an impressive 250,000 square metres. Work on the stadium began in March 2004 and it will be completed on schedule by the end of this year.
5 What does the word 'venue' mean?
a) a place where a meeting or a sports match is held
b) a pitch on which a game of football is played
6 What is the 'seating capacity' of a theatre, cinema or sports stadium?
a) the number of food stalls inside
b) the number of seats inside
Olympic fact file
Here are 12 Olympic sports. Eight are track and field events, and four are not. List the eight track and field events.
2 800 metres
3 Discus throw
6 Shot put
8 Relay race
9 Javelin throw
10 Long jump
12 High jump
1 altius, 2 hammer, 3b, 4a, 5a, 6b; Olympic fact file: 800 metres / discus throw / hurdles / shot put / relay race / javelin throw / long jump / high jump