A Sporting Lexicon



"The women's Olympic marathon is about to start..."

Kamila Shamsie stays up all night to watch a veteran runner in the Bejing Olympics of 2008 and how the runner used 'guile' to get her through. In fact, she went on to win the race and this was mainly due to guile, which has connotations with witchcraft.


"It's all very well in gymnastics to make routines more and more dangerously complicated but this counts for little unless it can be done gracefully.. "

Geoff Dyer thinks that the best people have to exhibit 'grace'. But some of those who do so are surprising figures in the sporting world.


"The toss of a coin, the spin of a roulette wheel, the sense of caprice whenever England is playing at football.."

Matthew Syed considers how 'luck' is a huge factor in winning and not winning, and he recalls his own time as the UK's top table tennis player to back this assertion.

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They miss out on glory by a fraction of a second, or the wrong intake of breath, or the slightly delayed start..."

Gillian Slovo stands up for those who miss out on the places on the podium. We live in an age of expectation and worse, entitlement, and this makes us lose sight of the joy of taking part. But the joy of taking part encapsulates the Olympic spirit - doesn't it?

Gillian Slovo thinks about coming 'fourth'.

Producer Duncan Minshull