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The Olympics

September 10, 2000

What began as a simple footrace almost 3,000 years ago in Olympia, Greece, has grown to an event involving more than 10,000 athletes from more than 190 countries competing in 37 sports. Olympic champions receive gold medals now instead of the traditional wreath, but the sense of athletic competition continues. Explore the history of the Olympics and be inspired by the achievements of world-class athletes through these direct links on The Times Launch Point Web site:

Here are the best sites for getting your schoolwork done or for just having fun.

Level 1

Sydney 2000 Olympics for Kids: Learn about the history of Olympic events, explore cultures from around the world, and try a range of activities including designing a sports venue and creating a recipe for an athlete that reflects your cultural background.

BrainPop: Olympics: View an animated movie that tells the story of the Olympics, beginning with its start in Greece in 776 BC. Learn about the symbolism of the five Olympic rings and marvel at how the Olympic torch will be carried a record 27,000 kilometers from Athens to the Olympic Games site of Sydney, Australia.

Scholastic at the Olympic Games: Get acquainted with some of the U.S. athletes who will be competing in this year's Olympics, such as tae kwon do champ Kay Poe and Irvine swimmer Aaron Peirsol. Discover the history behind such Olympic events as archery, which was used in prehistoric times for both hunting food and for protection.

Level 2

Science & the Olympics: Science and technology play important roles in sports, such as the development of punching bags equipped with acceleration-measuring devices or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that calculate precisely how high a pole vaulter has jumped. Read about innovative mental preparation techniques such as visualization that world-class athletes use to improve their performance.

Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games: During ancient times, sculptures were created not only to honor victorious athletes but also to remember those athletes who had been caught cheating or bribing, in order to remind others to uphold the ideals of Olympic competition. Discover how politics and commercialism were factors in ancient Olympics in this site that compares the past with the present.

NBC Olympics: Listen to interviews from the athletes, keep up-to-date with news and television coverage and access in-depth resources that explain each sports' rules, equipment and lingo.

Level 3

Olympics Through Time: Trace the history of the Olympics as a religious festival honoring the Greek god Zeus to its revival in 1896. Hear experts in classics discuss Olympic history and how the Greeks valued both the development of physical strength and intellectual virtues as part of educating their citizens.

Olympic Museum: Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the modern Olympic Games in 1896 with the vision of an egalitarian sports competition that would celebrate physical and moral excellence. View video clips and photos from past Olympic games and learn about the history of the Olympic torch.

CNN Sports Illustrated: Sydney 2000 Olympic Games: Against the backdrop of Nazi Germany at the 1936 Olympic Games, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in track and field. Track the progress of Olympic events through this site that features up-to-date news coverage as well as video clips, photo essays and biographies on athletes, an Olympic timeline of the past 100 years, and a multimedia parade of nations.


Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Dean May, Susana Soqui, Laura Tapia and Anna Manring.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

What five events comprise the modern pentathlon?

CLUE: Sydney 2000 Olympics for Kids

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 100 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The trip from New York to San Francisco is 7,872 miles shorter when using the Panama Canal instead of sailing around South America.

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