Sports 101

Olympic athletes in Sydney probably don't have to worry about cuddly kangaroos and koalas, but what about a shark encounter? For the debut of the triathlon event, Sydney organizers are taking every precaution: A team of well-equipped divers will be on hand to scare off any sharks, if necessary, during the swimming leg of the triathlon.

"Of course there's no real chance of a competitor being attacked by a shark, but you've got to allay the fears of the overseas competitors," says David Hansen, manager of the triathlon venue, where the first-ever triathlon medal will be decided. There have been no reports of shark attacks in Sydney Harbour between May and November for 208 years.

Another sport making its debut in Sydney is tae kwon do. No sharks involved, but beware of a few kicks.

Q: What is the triathlon?

A: It requires athletes to excel at three sports - swimming, cycling, and running. The very first triathlon was held in San Diego in 1974.

Q: What does tae kwon do mean, and what's the history behind it?

A: It literally means "way of kicking and punching." Tae kwon do is the most recognized Korean martial art, which started more than 2,000 years ago. However, it wasn't officially recognized as a means of self-defense until the 1950s, when many Korean martial artists unified their techniques under a single style of fighting with hands and feet.

Q: What sports are being considered for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece?

A: The International Olympic Committee has received requests from more than a dozen sports federations. The list includes parachuting, billiards, underwater swimming, roller skating, and surfing. Others include golf, ballroom dancing, bowling, rugby, squash, and racquetball. The favorite sport being considered? Water skiing. But in order to add new sports, others might have to be dropped.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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