You may have not been able to avoid the Olympics in the UK but not everyone in Sierra Leone knows about them. We have had a teachers’ workshop on the Olympics to encourage everyone to think about incorporating the topic into their numeracy and literacy teaching. The workshop encouraged the teachers to include memorable and active learning methods as part of their practice. The teachers will use word-searches, time and record the children’s races, present the findings using bar charts, pie charts etc. Make flags, and use art to depict the events.
I have been doing my own research into the history of the Olympics as I am personally playing a special part in the Olympics this year as an olympic torch bearer on Tuesday 24th July. The Olympic torch is now on its way around the UK and I will know the exact route I will carry the torch 4 weeks before but it is somewhere in Ealing/Hounslow. If you would like to come and cheer me on you would be very welcome.
Initially I felt a bit embarrassed at being nominated as someone who is inspirational but now I feel very privileged and excited to be part of such an historical event and I hope to be able to raise awareness of our work here in Sierra Leone, so thank you John for the nomination, I have recovered from the shock now.
Some interesting Olympics facts……..
The Olympic Charter says the goal of the Olympic Movement is to help build a better and a more peaceful world. It does this by encouraging young people to play sport in a spirit of friendship and respect and by bringing people together using music and art.
Tessa Jowell is Britain’s Minister for the Olympics and London and has held a variety of senior government posts. She has overall responsibility for delivery of the government’s Olympic programme. Jowell has been a member of parliament for the Labour Party since 1992.
In 1896 a Greek woman called Stamata Revithi decided to run the inaugural modern day Olympic Marathon in Greece. Arriving in the Village of Marathon she was told by officials that she was not allowed to compete in the race the next day as the entry deadline had expired. Today historians agree that the real reason for her exclusion was her gender – women were not allowed to compete in any of the events in the inaugural Olympic Games. This did not deter Revithi, who ran the marathon by herself the day after the main race, running her final lap around the outside of the main stadium as she wasn’t allowed inside to officially mark the culmination of her five and a half hour run, in fact it would take nearly 100 years before women could compete in an Olympic Marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Many people will know the story of Jesse Owens; who was one of eighteen Black athletes representing the United States in the 1936 Olympics. Jesse Owens, “the fastest human being,” captured four gold medals and became the hero of the Olympics. In the long jump he leaped 26 feet 5-1/2 inches, an Olympic record. Immediately after the Games, Owens hoped to capitalize on his fame and quit the AAU's European tour of post-Olympic meets; for this action, the AAU suspended him from amateur competition. Many American journalists hailed the victories of Jesse Owens and other Black athletes as a blow to the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy.
But did you know that one of the first women's track teams in the USA began at the all-black Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1929. Three years later, Louise Stokes and Tidye Pickett qualified for the 1932 Olympics in track and field, but were not allowed to participate in the event (held in Los Angeles) because of their race. In Berlin in 1936, Stokes and Pickett became the first black women to represent their country in the Olympics. Alice Coachman, a star track and field athlete at Tuskegee Institute, became the first black woman to win Olympic gold, setting records with her high jump at the 1948 Olympics in London. Coachman, who dominated her sport, would likely have won more medals if the 1940 and 1944 Olympics had not been canceled due to World War II
Women first competed at the 1900 Paris Games. It is commonly believed that the first woman to win an Olympic event was England's Charlotte Cooper, who won the tennis singles title, however it is also believed that Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès won a gold medal as part of a team in sailing earlier than this.
In 1948, Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals, the equivalents of the ones Jesse Owens had won twelve years earlier. She holds the world records in the high and long jumps, but did not compete in those, as rules prohibited women from competing in more than three individual events.
The 2000 Olympics was the first time that women were allowed to compete in the Olympics in weightlifting.
This kind of discrimination seems unthinkable now but more than 120 years after Revithi ran through the streets of Greece women are still barred from over 40 Olympic events. In Paralympic sport the figures are worse with women unable to compete in nearly 50 per cent of events.
In 1980 women represented only 18 percent of athletes at the Moscow Games, a figure that had risen to 45 percent in Beijing last year.
With a global audience of billions the Olympics are perhaps the greatest show on earth. The men and women who compete in the Games inspire awe, wonder and respect for their talent and dedication. In short they become role models or sporting ‘heroes’ that people, particularly children, look up to. And how often do women get the chance to see other women playing sport? There is more than 50 times as much coverage in the media for men’s sport than women’s, with just 2 percent of articles and 1 percent of images devoted to elite female athletes and women’s sport.
Women watch the Olympics more than any other sporting event; this makes it even more important for the organisers to pursue equal representation in the Olympic Games.
Equality shouldn’t just be on the sporting track it needs to be across the board. The world has changed a lot since the suffragette movement at the beginning of the 20th century but the treatment of women still varies from country to country. Globally there is a gender pay gap where women do two thirds of the world’s work but receive only 10 percent of the world’s income and unbelievably there are still a minority of countries where women can’t vote.
Across the world millions of women suffer from rape, domestic abuse and mutilation without their attackers being brought to justice. In an age when many of us living in the western world take access to education and healthcare for granted, there are many women and girls without access to basic midwifery care or schools. Clearly we still have a long way to go before women not only have the same rights as men but access to the same opportunities.
London 2012 should be an opportunity where there are strong female role models for girls growing up – whether on the sporting field, in the home, in the boardroom or the construction site; and girls, like boys, are encouraged to aim high and be the very best.
Who know's maybe one of young girls will aspire to be in the Olympics one day.......Higher, faster, stronger – as the Olympic motto goes ; )
And finally British Equestrian, Lorna Johnstone was 70 years and 5 days old when she rode at the 1972 Games, thus being the oldest woman ever to compete at an Olympic Games, so there is still hope for all of us over 25 ; )
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