In today’s lesson, we are going to look at a question from IELTS speaking part 2 that asks you to describe a sportsperson. I will help you analyze the question, make notes, give some useful language, and then I will give you a helpful sample answer.

Note: I have updated this post since it was originally written to include a video lesson. You can find that at the bottom of this page.

Cue Card: Describe a Sportsperson

Here’s a common question from IELTS Speaking Part 2:

Describe a sportsperson you admire.
You should say:

  • who the person is
  • what sport he or she does
  • when did you first hear about this person

and why you admire him or her.

Hopefully, everyone reading this is at least familiar with some famous sports stars. You don’t need to be a fanatic to answer this question well… but it might help! You just need to be able to think of a person, describe what he or she does, when and where you first encountered this person, and give some reasons why you admire them.

describe a sportsperson: american football
A quarterback is an important player in American football.

As always, you should be writing some short notes in preparation, rather than any sentences. Remember that you really don’t have enough time to write more than a few words.

Note down any vocabulary that comes to mind and which you think will help. But mostly write down words that will help you to structure your speech – this makes your words sound more natural.

See our article on how to improve your IELTS speaking.

Here are my notes:

describe a sportsperson - Leo Messi
Leo Messi is a popular football player.

Leo Messi

Argentina-> Barcelona



10 years ago


These are obviously very basic, but by looking at them I can speak confidently without missing any of the points from the cue card. There are two useful words of vocabulary – disability and perseverance. These words, if properly used, sound impressive and add meaningfully to the speaking task. They are examples of “less common vocabulary” and can help improve your score.

It is helpful to have an idea about this cue card in your head before the exam. Certain topics often appear in IELTS speaking part 2 and you should be quite familiar with them before you sit the IELTS. Here are some guides to common topics:

Sample answer

I have highlighted some useful constructions for describing a famous person. These are useful for describing Leo Messi but of course can be adapted to other people. Some are quite basic – like “some would say” – while others are more complex, such as “his inspiring story of perseverance.”

Remember: you should never memorize answers for IELTS, but it is helpful to remember collocations – that means groups of words that are commonly used together.

So here is my answer to the cue card above:

My favourite sports person is Leo Messi. He’s a famous football player, and some would say he’s the best football player in the world. He started his career in Argentina, where he was born, but moved to Barcelona, in Spain, when he was a teenager. He had a disability, for which the Spanish team agreed to pay his medical bills. Despite his health problems, Messi developed into a modern legend. He has won numerous trophies over the course of his career, including five “world footballer of the year” awards – which is a world record. I remember first hearing about him about ten years ago, when he was first making headlines.  His life story caught my attention just as much as his incredible skills. I admire him because of his triumph over adversity. I think that his inspiring story of perseverance is a lesson for us all.

The phrases “making headlines” and “modern legend” are really useful for talking about famous people. You can incorporate these into your IELTS speaking part 2 answer like this.

Lebron James is a modern legend in the field of basketball. He has been making headlines for more than a decade.

More Sports Vocabulary

Sports is a common IELTS topic and it may occur in other parts of the exam, so make sure you know some basic vocabulary. If there is a sport that you really care about, learn some of the words that are commonly used to describe it. Here is a great collection of sports words to study.

One of the tricky things about sports in English is that there are some very subtle differences in language from sport to sport and between cultures. Here are some examples:

Basketball is played on a basketball court.

Football is played on a football pitch.

Baseball is played on a baseball field.

And so on. Knowing these slight differences can really help elevate your IELTS speaking score. Also, keep in mind that you are not describing a sport. Instead, you have been asked to describe a sportsperson. This means that you should be good with vocabulary for describing people.

YouTube Video

I have converted this lesson into a video format. If you want to hear me giving my sample answer in an audio recording, you can watch this video. You might find it useful to repeat my sentences to improve your pronunciation.

Ok, folks. That’s all for today’s lesson. I hope you are now able to describe a sportsperson. You can put your own ideas into the comment section below and I will give you some feedback.