Focus on the Olympics

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games have begun! How closely have you been watching them? Here's one way to find out: We've taken pictures of track-and-field equipment of the sort being used in Australia this week and next. Look at the pictures, read the clues, and see if you can figure out what they are or what they're used for. (Careful - there's a trick photo!) To see if you deserve a medal, check the answers on the facing page.

It first appeared as an Olympic event in 708 BC. There were two events then - target throwing and distance throwing. Ancient Greeks had an edge: a throwing sling was legal.

Are you looking close-up, or are you far away in this photograph? Look for clues in the photo. Here's another hint: In ancient Greece, the name of this thing was a unit of measure equal to about 185 meters (607 feet). Back then, a straight track for a footrace was often that long.

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The first Olympians began races from a standing position, though ancient stadiums contain evidence that they used an early version of these. (Early 20th-century runners used trowels to dig their own for each race.)

Zola Budd, the South African 3,000-meter runner who competed in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, did not need a pair of these. Neither did the ancient Greeks.

To start things off with a bang, you used to need one of these. Today's Olympic track and swimming races begin with a much less explosive, much more electronic 'Beep!'

It has to be light, it can't be any longer than 11-1/2 inches, and it had better not be slippery. If you don't bring it with you, you lose.

These used to be made out of stone. Unlike other early Olympic events, it has no relation to military exercises or farm work.

It was originally part of Scotland's Highland Games, based on a centuries-old soldier's challenge.

OK, so this is an easy one. But can you name all five events in which this measuring tool is used to determine who gets a medal?

ANSWERS:

(1) Javelin. Javelins were originally light throwing spears used in combat; (2) Stadium. This is a telephoto shot of Sydney's Stadium Australia, which holds 110,000 spectators - an Olympic record; (3) Starting blocks. Runners began crouching at the start of races in 1884; (4) Track spikes. The ancient Olympians ran races barefoot, as did Ms. Budd; (5) Starting pistol. It shoots blank cartridges; (6) Baton, for relay races; (7) Discus. Discus throwers used to stand in one place and could only use their arms. Today, they spin and step; (8) The shot; the event is the shot put. For hundreds of years, soldiers challenged one another to see who could throw a cannon ball the farthest; (9) Tape measure. It's used to judge the shot put, discus, long jump, triple jump, and javelin.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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