Olympics back home

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2008, 12:00am

Athens 2004

In 2004, the Olympic Games returned to Athens, the city where the first modern Olympics had been held in 1896. What a difference there was between that first Olympiad and the stunning sports spectacular celebrated 108 years later.

A record 201 teams took part in 301 sporting events at the XXVIII Olympiad. A massive four billion viewers all over the world watched the Olympics on television, with Athens 2004 marking the first time since 1996 that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance.

Swimmer Michael Phelps set a single Games record by winning eight medals. Sailor Birgit Fischer became the first athlete in any sport to win two medals at each of five successive Olympic Games.

Looking forward to Beijing 2008, Chinese athletes were at their best, taking home 63 medals, including

32 golds.

At the closing ceremony, the national anthems of Greece and China were played as the Mayor of Athens handed the Olympic Flag to the Mayor of Beijing.

The Athens Olympics were now closed, and the Beijing Games had begun.


1 What adjective could be used instead of 'massive'?

a) colossal

b) excited

Leontien van Moorsel wins the gold medal in the women's road race in Sydney 2000.

The heroine of Athens

Leontien van Moorsel turned out to be the surprise heroine of the Athens 2004 Olympics. Van Moorsel, a world champion Dutch cyclist, competed in her first Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, but didn't win any medals.

She missed out on the 1996 Atlanta Games as she fought both anorexia and bulimia. It was a hard road to recovery, but at the Sydney Olympics, she was on top medal-winning form.

Van Moorsel broke the world record in the cycling pursuit semi-finals and raced to gold in the final.

She also won a silver medal in the cycling points race and then added a gold medal in the road race. Great things were expected from Van Moorsel in Athens. She was now 34 years old but hadn't lost any of her competitive spirit. But disaster struck when she crashed her cycle in the road race.

Van Moorsel was badly bruised during the accident and it looked as if she would have to withdraw from competition. But, in true Olympic tradition, van Moorsel got back on her cycle and closed her Olympic career by winning the bronze medal in her final race.


2 What does the phrasal verb 'to miss out' mean?

a) to fail to enjoy or benefit from something

b) to attend for a short period

Athens Fact File

Select the word, number or phrase that makes each of these statements correct and then copy them into your Olympic Fact File.

1) a. 10,625 b. 3,876 athletes competed at the 2004 Olympic Games.

2) The US won a grand total of a. 90 b. 102 medals in Athens.

3) Chinese victories included a first-ever gold medal in a. sailing b. tennis.

4) a. 57 b. 28 different sports were on the programme in Athens.

5) Athletes taking part in the 2004 Olympics were not a. allowed b. ordered to post their personal comments about the Games on any website.

6) There were a. 21,500 b. 10,500 media workers at the Athens Olympics.

7) Liu Xiang won China's first a. track b. tennis gold medal at the Athens Olympics.

8) Ning Zhang won a gold medal in women's badminton at the age of

a. 34 b.29.

9) Greek hurdler Fani Halkia came out of a. retirement b. competition at the age of 25 to win a gold medal in the women's hurdling finals.

10) 4,329 a. female b. professional athletes took part in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Written by John Millen. For news on the Beijing Games preparations go to http://en.beijing2008.cn/


1. a, 2. a

Athens Fact File: 10,625 / 102 / tennis / 28 / allowed / 21,500 / track / 29 / retirement / female