My Greatest Olympic Prize
Answers for all the questions from the lesson ‘My Greatest Olympic’ included in the CHSE +2 book ‘Invitation to English – 1’.
Think it out – 1
1. Why were nationalistic feelings running high during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin?
Answer – Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany, had whipped up extreme jingoism in the Germans by declaring that they are genetically superior to other races. They were made to belive that their Aryan descent made them inherently superior for which they would fare much better than other national teams. Such baseless pride fuelled nationalist feelings among the host Germans and the guest teams too.
2. ‘I wasn’t too worried about all this’. What does “this” refer to – Hitler’s beliefs or winning a gold medal?
Answer – ‘This’ refers to Hitler’s irrational posturing about the German teams assumed superiority that he bragged about. Jesse Owens remained unruffled by the air of German supremacy that Hitler had preached so assiduously. Owens really didn’t care much about such propaganda.
3. Why wasn’t Owens worried?
Answer – Owens had worked very hard for six years for the Olympics. His training had shown results at home where he had just recently recorded a spectacular leap in his college games. He knew athletic prowess gets glory, not superficial supremacy.
4. Why did everyone expect Owens to win the long jump easily?
Answer – Owen’s recent performances were very impressive, and he had notched up a spectacular leap of 26 feet 8 ¼ inches in one of his college meets. Most sports lovers were aware of this world record. So, Owens was a favourite for winning the medal.
5. What was the surprise that awaited Jesse Owens in Berlin?
Answer – A hitherto German athlete named Luz Long appeared from nowhere and registered a jump of 26 feet in the Long Jump trials. Jesse Owens never knew there was one such competitor waiting to challenge him. This surprised Jesse Owens.
6. What did he learn from people about Luz Long?
Answer – Jesse got to know that Hitler had deliberately kept Luz Long away from limelight , so that his spectacular show would make other competitors like him nervous.
7. Do you think Nazis’ Aryan-superiority theory meant that Germans were superior to Negroes? How did Owens feel about it – angry or bothered?
Answer – Hitler’s assertion of German race’s superiority over others, particularly the blacks, was borne out of his wild xenophobic mindset. Such a theory was both scientifically baseless and smacked of arrogance. Aryan descent couldn’t bestow special sports skills on the host team. It was, clearly, hogwash and wicked. Owens knew the incipient hostility towards him for his black skin, but chose to ignore it altogether.
8. What made Owens determined to beat Luz Long?
Answer – Jesse Owens resented Hitler’s claim of German race’s superiority. Instead of protesting against such highhandedness verbally, he chose to rebut it in the tracks using his power and skill. This was the best way to counter Hitler’s loathsome attitude to other races, particularly Negros.
Think it out – 2
1. What does a coach say about an angry athlete?
Answer – Coaches always ask their trainees to shun anger during competition, as such feelings undermine their performance. So, before a competition, the athlete should be calm.
2. What were the results of the first two qualifying jumps for Owens?
Answer – Owens overshot the starting line by nearly seven inches in his first qualifying attempt. The second jump was also technically wrong. Owens stood there very worried, as he had just one more chance to go to the finals.
3. Why did Owens kick the pit?
Answer – Jesse Owens had goofed up his first two trial jumps. He was tense, and very angry with himself. To vent his frustration, he kicked the pit.
4. Who offered Owens a firm handshake? Was he friendly or hostile?
Answer – Luz Long, who had surprised Owens with his impressive jump earlier, came up to Owens to shake hands with great warmth and empathy. He was very friendly.
5. Why did Long speak to Owens during the trials? Did he mean to make friendship with Owens or to find out what was troubling him?
Answer – Long understood the discomfiture of Owens. He wanted to calm Owens’s nerves, so that he takes his last qualifying chance successfully, and made it to the finals. He appeared genuinely friendly to Jesse Owens.
6. “he really looked the part” – What does this mean? Does it mean Long was trying to play the part of an Aryan or he looked as if he belonged to a superior race?
Answer – Luz Long didn’t believe in the racial superiority of the Aryans. It was apparent from his speaking and his body language.
7. How did Luz Log help Jesse Owens in qualifying for the final jumps?
Answer – Long had seen how Owens had overshot his starting line in the earlier chances. He told Owens to draw a making line a few inches behind the actual starting line, so that even if he overshot the start, he would still be not committing an infringement. Being a powerful jumper, the loss of a few inches wouldn’t harm Owens in any way.
8. “Tomorrow is what counts.” – What did Long mean by this? Does he mean that Owens would win the next day, or their performance the next day would matter much?
Answer – The final event was scheduled for the next day. Long told that the performance in the Finals is all that mattered. So, qualifying for it was essential for Owens. Both of them could compete then, and show off their best. Hence, it was said “Tomorrow is what counts.”
9. Did Owens qualify for the final jump? How did he do that?
Answer – Owens heeded Long’s advice to start a few inches behind the actual starting line to preclude any chance of disqualification for overshooting the mark. The plan worked and Owens regained his composure, and sailed into the finals the next day.
Think it out – 3
1. When did Owens and Long realize that they had become friends?
Answer – Luz Long broke his own record. This made Owens to try still harder and give it his best. At the end, when Owens won, Luz Long sportively came forward to shake Owens’s hands warmly. This gesture made Owens feel that he has found a real friend in Luz Long.
2. Who was Coubertin? What was his ideal?
Answer – Coubertin was the founder of modern Olympics. He felt that the Games should inspire more and more participation, and should also promote keener competition among athletes, no matter who loses or who wins.
3. Why has Luz Long been called a fine example of Coubertin’s ideal?
Answer – Owen at a point of time felt that he could lose the medal, but instead of feeling disheartened, he became determined to strive his best. Such attitude is the true Olympic ideal.
4. What do you think was the greatest Olympic Prize for Jesse Owens – the gold medal he won in long jump, or the friendship he formed with Luz Long?
Answer – Jesse Owens won the medal and wrote his name in history. However, personally to discover a friend like Luz Long meant more for him. It was truly a gratifying experience.
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Click here for answers for other lessons in the CHSE +2 2nd year syllabus.