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4. Reading Skills Comprehension: Olympic Heroes

Olympic Heroes

Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follow:

It was no longer an ordinary Olympic final. There were two heroes in the great drama, both running as if their lives depended on the race. Hans Grodotski, a German with golden hair, was catching up with Halberg. Now Halberg was not fighting the others, but only against himself. His body was crying out for rest; it wanted to fall quietly on the ground and go to sleep. His body said the Grodotski, or anyone else, could have the race. But his mind and spirit would not allow the body to win.

He could now see the white tape at the finishing line. On the other side of the tape, he told himself, he would find peace and rest. Grodotski was only 9 meters behind him as they went around the last bend in the track. Halberg prepared himself for the last effort in case Grodotski overtook him.

But Grodotski never did, Halberg fell into the tape and rolled to the ground; Grodotski was 7 meters behind. Halberg’s friends gathered around the fallen body. Their minds were full of anxiety. But there was that faint smile in his face.

After his great victory in the 5000-metre race, everyone thought that Halberg would win the 1O,000-metre race easily. But Lydiard found a change in Halberg now. The desire to win was gone. Murray Halberg had discovered, in those last minutes of the race, that victory was not so important. He still had to live his own life, to do other things. When Halberg had fallen across the finishing tape a door had opened in his life. He had found a new meaning in life. He did not run in the 10,000-metre race.

When he was returning home he heard, in Singapore, that his wife had given birth to their first daughter. Compared to this great prize, the Olympic Gold Medal which he had won did not seem very important. His courage had made him immortal in the history of sports, but now he had to live the life of an ordinary mortal.

In the next three years, Murray Halberg ran many races and won many prizes. But never again did he feel that he was a running machine. He wanted a chance to do something useful with his life.

The chance came in 1963. That year, in Toronto (Canada), he gave a talk at a meeting of sportswriters. A lot of money was raised, and it was used to help the crippled, disabled children of Canada, who could not walk or take part in any game. Murray found that he could make himself useful to his fellow-men at last. Back in New Zealand, he took up seriously the task of helping crippled children. Many famous sportsmen joined him in this work, and a fund called the ‘Murray Halberg Trust Fund for Crippled Children’ was started.

Murray Halberg is now almost 45 years old, the father of three children. He has worked among crippled children for more than 15 years. During this time, he says, he has seen courage which makes Olympic victories seem very small. He knows a boy who had lost both his feet but ran on the stumps of his feet in a race for crippled children. He speaks also of another boy whose entire body was paralysed below his shoulders, but who won a prize for swimming 400 meters in the open sea.

1.Complete the following statements: 

(a) Halberg was physically so tired that _________

(b) He continued to run as _____________

(c) In the Last moments of the race he realized ______________

(d) He decided to devote himself _____________

2. Fill in the blanks with One word only :

Halberg was not (a) _____________ the others but only against himself. He was tired and he wanted to (b) ____________ on the ground. But his mind and spirit did not (c) _________  him to do so. He prepared himself bravely and (d) _________ his rival.

3. Find words from the passage which mean the same:

(a) simple (Para 1) (b) triumph (Para 4)


1.(a) he wanted to fall quietly on the ground

(b) he could see the white tape at the finishing line

(c) that victory was not so important

(d) to other things, to do something useful in his life

2.(a) fighting    (b) fall

(c) allow           (d) overtook

3. (a) ordinary (b) victory

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