Are Athletes Really Getting Faster, Better, Stronger?

Sports is a really important IELTS topics that can pop up in the speaking, reading, writing, and listening parts of the IELTS exam. It is particularly common in the speaking exam, where you may have to describe a sportsperson you admire, for example. In this TED Talk, the author David Epstein discusses whether or not athletes are really getting better every year as it appears they are. This findings are quite surprising.

Vocabulary

motto  – noun – a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals of an individual, family, or institution

inexorably – adverb – in a way that is impossible to stop or prevent

fabricated – verb – construct or manufacture

consensus – noun – a general agreement

savvy – adjective – having common sense and good judgement

diminutive – adjective – extremely or unusually small

Listening

Watch the video below as you do the listening exercise.

 

Gap-Fill

Listen to the beginning of the recording (up to 0:51) and fill in the blanks below.

The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius.” Faster, ___1___, Stronger. And ___2___ have fulfilled that motto rapidly. The winner of the 2012 Olympic marathon ran _____3_____. Had he been racing against the winner of the ___4___ Olympic marathon, he would have won by ______5______. Now we all have this feeling that we’re somehow just getting better as a human race, inexorably _____6_____, but it’s not like we’ve evolved into a new species in a _____7____. So what’s going on here? I want to take a look at what’s really behind this march of ______8______.

Speaking

In the IELTS speaking test, it is very common to be asked about sports, particularly in part one. Here are some sample questions and answers:

Q: Do you do enough exercise?

A: I probably don’t do as much exercise as I should, but I try to play football at least once a week.

Q: Do you ever watch sport on TV?

A: Yes, I occasionally watch sport on TV. However, I prefer playing it with friends.

In part 3, you’re more likely to hear questions relating to the benefits or dangers of sport, as well as ethics and other related issues.

Q: What are some of the dangers associated with playing sports?

A: Well, for one thing it’s easy to get injured while doing sports. Some sports can be very physical and it’s possible to end up in the hospital after an aggressive tackle or a fall.

Q: Are there some sports that are more suited to men than women?

A: I suppose most people would say yes, but I think that actually men and women are equally capable of playing all sports. Although sports like rugby seem more suited to men, there are some women that are really good at it.

Answers

Gap-Fill

  1. higher
  2. athletes
  3. two hours and eight minutes
  4. 1904
  5. nearly an hour and a half
  6. progressing
  7. century
  8. athletic progress

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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