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Barb's Olympic Adventure Continues
Posting 7: Lesser-Known Sports

Curriculum CenterBarbara Taddeo is at the Olympic Games -- and she is sharing the experience with Education World readers! Taddeo, a middle school special education teacher from San Mateo, California, will share her observations -- and some activities too. Follow Taddeo's journey through her reports from Sydney!

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Friday, September 22, was the halfway point in the Olympics. Everyone involved is amazed that the Games continue to progress smoothly.

The Australian people are wonderful! I sometimes stop at the store on my way from the horse park where I'm working to my friend's home. I'm still wearing my uniform so people often stop me and say thank you for being a volunteer.

In many ways, the Australians remind me of Midwesterners because of their friendliness. As I have said before, the Olympics bring out the best in people. I found this to be true in Atlanta, but even more so here.


On Friday, David O'Connor won the individual gold medal in the three-day event in an exciting finish. (See Watching Events (Posting 5) for more information about this event.) He almost lost the gold because he began to lose his way on the course. In show jumping, there is a specific course that the riders must follow. As I mentioned before, the riders are judged on whether they knock a rail down (five point error) or whether they take longer than the allotted time. O'Connor knocked down only one rail, but after the fourth fence it looked like he lost his way and was headed toward the wrong fence. The crowd let up a gasp. O'Connor realized what he was doing wrong and corrected himself. If he had jumped over the wrong fence, he would have been disqualified. Australian rider Andrew Hoy won the silver medal and Mark Todd from New Zealand won the bronze.


Gymnastics, swimming, track, and equestrian are just a few of the many sports in the Olympics. In fact, there are Olympic sports that students can do at home for relatively low costs -- sports such as archery, shooting, judo, badminton, baseball, handball, and table tennis. Many of the Olympic participants in these sports are in high school or college. For example, high school student Michelle Do from Milpitas, California, is a member of the United States table tennis team. Another high school student, Karen Scavotto, from Enfield, Connecticut, is a member of our archery team.

I watched Scavotto compete the other day in the team archery match against Sweden. Because these sports were not as heavily publicized as the equestrian or track events, it was easy to see the competition up close.

Although archery is relatively low-cost sport, it requires much dedication and practice. In the last Olympics, one of the archers practiced by standing on the other side of the street from his house and shooting at a target in his garage! The archer's goal is to hit a bull's eye from 70 meters (76.55 yards or 229.6 feet or 2755 inches) away. The target has a diameter of 122 centimeters (1.3342 yards or 4.0026 feet or 48.0314 inches). Each archer shoots 12 arrows. The center of the target is worth 10 points. The person with the highest score wins. The United States team placed third and an Australian placed first in the individual men's division. The U.S. women's team was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the team from Korea.


  • Physical Education. Here's an activity to give students an idea of the skills archers must use to hit a target. If your school does not have archery equipment, have students try to hit a target with a ball from 70 meters away.

  • Math. Now that the track and field events are in full swing, have students record the times of the heats. Have each student pick one participant and track his or her scores in each heat. (Use newspaper or other news sources.) Have the class calculate the differences in the times of different participants. You might also have students convert meters to yards, feet, and inches.

    Conversion Formulas meters x 1.0936=length in yards meters x 3.281=length in feet meters x 39.37=length in inches

  • Geography. Have students note on a globe or world map the home countries of the athletes who make it to the finals.

  • History. One of my favorite Olympic stories to share with students is the story of John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, a marathon runner in the 1968 Mexico City Games. Akhwari injured his leg early in the race. He finished the race in last place, entering the dark, almost empty stadium more than an hour after the winner. Akhwari said, "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race." His actions exemplified an athlete who did not give up. If you can find a book about the history of the Olympics, read about the men's marathon at the Mexico City Games. (You might also read A Tribute to Abebe Bikila and the Runners of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Marathon.)

  • Language Arts. The Olympians come from many different backgrounds. Discuss the meaning of the term "role model" and ask students in what ways are Olympic athletes role models to people around the world.


The Australian word of the day is chalkie -- a nickname for "teacher."

The Australian saying of the day is, "If brains were money and feathers were cheap, you could not put a down payment down on a Tom Tits tail feather." A "om tit"is a very small Australian bird similar to a chickadee.)

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Barbara Taddeo has created these activities for the students of three schools -- but she has been kind enough to agree to share her daily reports with Education World's readers. We're pleased to be included in these daily mailings to the students in Taddeo's 7th grade class in Room 31 at Borel Middle School in San Mateo, California; Mrs. Hirschmann's class at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Turersville, New Jersey; and Lacey Rhoades' class in Mesa, Arizona.

Barbara Taddeo
Education World®
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