Vocabulary Builder – Olympics

Finalmente ecco arrivate le Olimpiadi! Prepariamoci a parlarne anche in inglese con un utilissimo testo che riassume tutto il lessico base che dobbiamo assolutamente conoscere!

In this lesson you are going to learn some general words and expressions to be able to talk about the Olympics as well as specific vocabulary for summer and winter sports.

One tradition at the beginning of the Olympic Games is bringing the Olympic torch through the host city – the city where the Games will be held – to light the flame at the arena.

The general word for someone who does sports is an athlete. Olympic athletes train with the best coaches from the world. A coach/trainer is someone who teaches/trains athletes.

Some Olympic sports are team sports. The word for the other people on your team is teammates.

Olympic athletes compete for the gold, silver and bronze medals and a person who wins is called a medallist. During the medal ceremony each medallist stands on a podium and the national anthem, the official national song of the gold medallist’s country is played. When a particular team is expected to win they are called the favourite and someone who has a disadvantage or who is not expected to win is called the underdog. But sometimes the underdog manages to pull off a surprise victory.

If an athlete performs better at an event than anyone else in history he sets a new world record. The Olympics gives a chance to demonstrate good sportsmanship. That’s a person’s behaviour and attitude while participating in sports. Especially fair play and courtesy. An example of good sportsmanship is an athlete who lost congratulating the winners. An example of poor sportsmanship is screaming and cursing after a defeat. Unfortunately some athletes resort to doping, using drugs to improve athletic performance which is not allowed. If it’s discovered the athlete isdisqualified and removed from the competition. Olympic athletes should remember that they are role models, examples that many people – especially young people – observe and imitate.

In addition to the Olympics there are also the Paralympics for athletes with disabilities.

Let’s learn some specific vocabulary for the summer and winter Olympics.

Winter Olympics

Two sports that involve snow are skiing and snowboarding. There are actually two types of skiing, Alpine skiing, more commonly called downhill skiing, is done on a slope or an incline whereas Nordic skiing more commonly called cross-country skiing is done on a flat surface. In freestyle skiing or ski jumping the skier goes downhill to pick up speed then goes off a ramp and flies to the air.

In bobsled two or four people race down on an icy track on a sled. This is the general word for a vehicle that sleds on snow or ice. Luge is similar but it uses a different type of sled with one or two people. And in a sport called skeleton the athlete lies face-down on a sled and goes down the track head-first.

Three sports that are done on an ice rink are speed skating, figure skating and ice hockey. Speed skating is a race, a competition where the fastest athlete wins. In figure skating the skaters perform artistic jumps and spins and in ice hockey each team uses their sticks to get the puck into the goal.

Summer Olympic sports

Athletics or track and field is a general category that includes many different kinds of events, sprints, running short distances very fast, hurdles, jumping over barriers, relay races in which the runners hand off a baton to a teammate continuing the race.

As well as jumping and throwing events such as the pole vault, discus throw and more, gymnastics is another general category. It involves acrobatic events such as the balance beam, the uneven bars, the vault and the rings. Gymnasts also do a floor routine in which they perform various flips jumping and turning in the air.

Three sports done in the swimming pool are diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. And there are many outdoor water sports such as rowing and sailing. A few more interesting sports in the summer Olympics are archery, shooting at a target with a bow and arrow, equestrian, which is the art of horseback riding and fencing, the sport of fighting with swords.  


torch torcia
flame fiamma
athlete atleta
coach allenatore
teammate compagno di squadra
to compete competere
gold oro
silver argento
medal medaglia
medal ceremony cerimonia di premiazione
anthem inno nazionale
to have a disadvantage avere uno svantaggio
to expect aspettarsi
underdog sfavorito
to pull off a victory portare a termine una vittoria
to perform compiere, portare a termine
to set a world record fissare un nuovo record del mondo
to demonstrate dimostrare
sportsmanship sportività
attitude attitudine
courtesy cortesia
to congratulate congratularsi
screaming urla, grida
cursing imprecare
defeat sconfitta
to resort to sg fare ricorso a qualcosa
doping doping
drug farmaco, medicina
to improve migliorare
to allow sg permettere qualcosa
to disqualify squalificare
competition competizione
role model modello, esempio
to observe osservare
to imitate imitare
disability disabilità
commonly comunemente
slope discesa
incline pendia
flat piano
surface superficie
to pick up speed prendere velocità
ramp rampa
sled slitta
luge slittino
face-down a faccia in giù
head-first a capofitto
ice rink pista di pattinaggio
speed skating pattinaggio di velocità
figure skating pattinaggio artistico
artistic artistico
spin rotazione
stick mazza
puck disco
goal rete
sprint sprint
short distance corta distanza
hurdle corsa a ostacoli
barrier ostacolo, barriera
relay race staffetta
baton testimone
pole vault salto con l’asta
balance beam trave
uneven bars parallele asimmetriche
rings anelli
diving immersione
rowing canottaggio
archery tiro con l’arco
target bersaglio
bow arco
arrow freccia
equestrian equitazione
fencing scherma
sword spada


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