Nine Gold Medals – Important Questions

Nine Gold Medals is poem that was primarily written as by David Lee Roth. It captures an amazing moment at the Special Olympics, reflecting the great significance of human values in the highly competitive arena of international sports. It touches upon what accounts for the spirit of sportsmanship, which seems to be glaringly missing today in many forms of the game that are played across the globe.

Important Question and Answers

Q. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

The athletes had come from all over the country
To run for the gold, for the silver and bronze
Many weeks and months of training
All coming down to these games.

1. Where did the athletes ‘come from all over the country’? Why?

Ans. The athletes came ‘from all over the country’ to the venue of the Special Olympics. The name of the venue for the concluding event, alluded to in the poem, is ‘old field’. The athletes reached there to win medals for their brilliant performance.

2. What do the words ‘gold’, ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ stand for in the extract? Do you think the contestants were prepared well for the event? Give a reason for your answer.

Ans. The words ‘gold’, ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ stand for gold medal, silver medal and bronze medal, respectively. These are the top three honours of any highlevel sports competition. The contestants were certainly prepared well for the event. As the poet says, they had undergone months of rigorous training before the game started.

3. What event is referred to here by the poet? What kind of athletes were they? What was their aim?

Ans. The event referred to here by the poet is 100 metre-race in a Special Olympics. This is the most important of all events. Due to this, a large number people watch this event. The athletes described in the poem were participants who had been selected for the 100 metre-race. This event is regarded as the most important sports event. Their aim was to win the gold, silver and bronze medals in the Special Olympics. These medals are tokens of top honours that are conferred on best performing athletes.

4. How had they prepared themselves for the special event?

Ans. All the athletes had prepared rigorously for the special event. They had been trained by their coaches for several months. This training had boosted the level of their self-confidence so much that each of them wanted achieve the best and reach the zenith of glory by winning the top honour of the game.

5. What does this stanza tell you about the nature and level of the sports event referred to here?

Ans. The first line states that athletes have ‘come from all over the country’. In the second line, we are informed that they have come to participate in a sports event where the best performers will receive awards that are usually given away at world’s premier sports competitions such as Olympic Games and Paralympics. Then, the next line tells us that the participating athletes have undergone long and consistent training before reaching the game’s site. This again suggests that the sports event referred to is a high-level multi-sport event.

Q. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

The spectators gathered around the old field
To cheer on all the young women and men
The final event of the day was approaching
Excitement grew high to begin.

1. What sport event is referred to earlier in the context?

Ans. The sport event referred to earlier in the context is 100 metre-race. This is the most popular of all events and is organised as the last or concluding one in any sports competition.

2. What does the poet’s reference to the spectators, who have gathered to watch the event, imply?

Ans. The spectators were in a very cheerful and encouraging mood. They were passionate and curious to see their favourite contestants touching the finish line. They have been simply referred to as ‘young women and men’. This suggests that at least the visible majority of them are young. This also suggests that 100-metre race is very popular among youngsters in general.

3. Which event was about to begin?

Ans. The event that was about to begin was the 100 metre-race. There was a huge and enthusiastic crowd of spectators waiting eagerly for the contestants to start running. The air was filled with excitement as everyone was keenly looking forward to welcoming the most outstanding sprinters claiming the top three medals.

4. Which phrase has been used by the poet to describe the venue or the place where the event is going to take place? What does this imply?

Ans. The phrase used by the poet to describe the venue is ‘the old field’. It implies that this field is the preferred venue for the most important of all athletic events. It’s also possible that any other field, which could have been referred to as ‘the new field’, might not be fully prepared to organize this event.

5. What does this stanza tell you about the temperament of the spectators?

Ans. According to the poet, the spectators who have assembled are passionate and ardent lovers of the game. They are very excited and are eagerly looking forward to watching the proceedings of the event and the performance of athletes participating in it.

Q. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

The signal was given, the pistol exploded
And so did the runners all charging ahead
But the smallest among them, he stumbled and staggered
And fell to the asphalt instead.

1. During the race, who had the bad luck? What happened to him? What were his feelings then?

Ans. During the race, one of the runners had the back luck. While running for the medal in the 100 metre-race, he suddenly fell down. He was extremely sad and dejected after this.

2. What strange thing happened?

Ans. When the nine athletes started running, one of them suddenly stumbled and fell down. Such incidents may happen sometimes and people forget them, as the focus is always on the athlete who touches the finish line before others. It’s on the basis of their performance that the quickest of them gets the top honour, i.e. gold medal. But as the poet says, that did not happen in the Special Olympics described here. When one of the athletes fell on the ground, the other athletes stopped running and turned around to help the one who had fallen. Then, they all joined hands and started walking rather than running to the finish line.

3. Which phrase has been used to indicate that the race has started? Which is the only word that describes the physical feature of the athlete who falls? Why were the runners charging ahead?

Ans. The phrase ‘the pistol exploded’ indicates that the race has started. The superlative degree adjective ‘smallest’ used here describes his physical feature. The runners described here are athletes participating in a 100-metre race. They are charging ahead to reach the target within a specific timeframe, already fixed for the race.

4. Do you think that the sight of an athlete falling during the course of a race is unusual? What does this result in?

Ans. Yes, this is something unusual but not impossible. After all, athletes too are human beings and so, despite all their preparation, they may be disturbed or distracted by something. As per the rules, if an athlete falls during the course of the race, he is normally given no second chance to rectify his mistake.

5. How did the shortest of the athletes reacted to what happened to him later?

Ans. The shortest of the athletes participating in the race fell down while running for top honours. He knows that the chances of his success have been spoilt due to his sudden fall. This would amount to end of his long-cherished and the effort he has made to realize it. Thinking all this, he is unable to restrain himself and gives out a cry. His crying indicated his deep frustration and sense of failure.

Q. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

He gave out a cry in frustration and anguish
His dreams and his efforts all dashed in the dirt
But as sure as I’m standing here telling this story
The same goes for what next occurred.
The eight other runners pulled up on their heels
The ones who had trained for so long to compete
One by one they all turned around and went back to help him
And brought the young boy to his feet.

1. What were his dreams? What were his frustrations?

Ans. Like every athlete, he wanted to win the 100 m-race. In order to prepare for this race, he had devoted a lot of time and energy. Naturally, when he fell down during the course of the event, he lost his heart. He was so frustrated that he began to cry.

2. What does the poet mean by the line: ‘The same goes for what next occurred’?

Ans. Usually, the fall of an athlete during a race means his disqualification. This implies that he is out of the race and there is no possibility for him to join it again. At the same time, it also means that the race will continue for other participants. Here, the poet says that the situation is not going to be so easily predictable. In fact, these lines suggest that something unusual or unconventional is going to follow, though the poet avoids giving any more description.

3. State in your own words what the eight other runners did. What did their action reflect on their attitude?

Ans. When the shortest of the eight runners fell, the eight others immediately noticed this. They stopped running, turned back and helped the athlete, who had fallen, to stand up. Their action clearly showed that they attached primacy to human values and were more concerned about helping their rival in distress than only winning for individual glory and honour.

4. How do these lines bring out the main theme of the poem? One by one they all turned around and went back to help him And brought the young boy to his feet

Ans. These lines suggest the significance of true sportsmanship. When one of the nine athletes contesting for 100m-race slipped and fell on the ground, the other eight contestants could have continued to run towards the finish line. However, instead of doing so, they preferred to stop and approach the fallen contestant to help him. This great gesture of sensitivity, benevolence and selfsacrifice shown by the eight athletes sets a very benchmark of morale and motivation for all sportspersons. It brings into focus the great significance of human values in the highly competitive arena of sports where each participant of any game fights for glory and accolade, treating others as rivals. The main theme of this poem is to highlight this aspect only.

5. Narrate what happened after the young boy was brought to his feet?

Ans. When the young boy was brought to his feet, all the nine runners joined hands. They decided that they won’t continue the race as rivals competing with one another. Instead, they all joined hands like comrades and started walking together to the line of finish.

6. Why did the eight contestants give up their competitive spirit?

Ans. The eight contestants attached more significance to humanitarian values underlying the spirit of sportsmanship rather than their competitive spirit that would earn them individual glory and honour. By their unique act, they proved thus, that competitive was important, but far more important was the spirit of the game.

7. How does the reaction of the eight athletes imply the spirit of sportsmanship?

Ans. The spirit of sportsmanship motivates a sportsperson to play a game without being insensitive to basic human values. It basically means that though sportspersons participating in the same event compete for success and glory with the same intensity and anxiety, they must not treat one another as ‘enemies’. Here, the athletes have shown a high degree of sportsmanship by sacrificing their own dream, to help another athlete who was competing with them as a rival.

Q. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

Then all the nine runners joined hands and continued
The hundred-yard dash now reduced to a walk
And a banner above that said (Special Olympics)
Could not have been more on the mark.

1. What does the first line mean?

Ans. This line means that the nine athletes competing in the 100-metre race have ceased to be rivals. Instead they are friends now, and so they have no hurry now to leave one another behind in order to reach the target.

2. Why did the nine athletes join hands? What did their action of joining hands show? Why was the race reduced to a walk?

Ans. They joined hands to show that they were not competitors in the game, but companions who could not see one another in distress. Their action of joining hands showed the highest level of sportsmanship. Once all the contestants joined hands, the race had lost its competitive significance. Thus, the act of running for individual honour or glory had ceased to be important. That is why the race was reduced to a walk.

3. What does the poet mean when he says, ‘The hundred-yard dash now reduced to a walk’?

Ans. Here, the poet clarifies that the act of ‘running fast’, which is the core of 100-metre event, is not important now, as eight athletes have together decided not to continue it. Their purpose to help the ninth athlete is far more important than the dream of winning medals. That is why the typical ‘dash’ has been reduced to ‘walk’.

4. Who won the race in the end, as described later in the poem?

Ans. As the poem describes, none of them emerged as the winner individually. This implies that the high level of sportsmanship shown by them made all the athletes winners. The organisers recognised this and decided to give gold medals to all of them.

5. How did the last event turned out to be special?

Ans. The last event turned out to be special because of something that had never happened before. It did not reflect their skill, talent or quantum of training they had received as sportsmen. Instead, it showed their absolutely humanitarian approach to game setting a great standard of sportsmanship.

6. Give the meaning and significance of:

And the banner above that said (Special Olympics)
Could not have been more on the mark.

Ans. In these lines, the poet categorically refers to the name of the sports tournament for the first time, i.e., Special Olympics. Such tournaments are organised throughout the world to encourage sportspersons and showcase their talent. Usually, such games do not gain media coverage and attention to the extent to which Summer and Winter Olympic Games do. By clearly mentioning the name of the tournament, the poet here tries to say that occasionally, less known tournaments witnessed historic incidents that set great standards for the entire world of sports.

Q. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

That’s how the race ended, with nine gold medals
They came to the finish line holding hands still
And a standing ovation and nine beaming faces
Said more than these words ever will.

1. How did the race end? In what way was the ending appropriate?

Ans. The race ended with all the nine athletes winning gold medals. The ending could not have been more appropriate. Due to their unique show of sportsmanship, they were applauded by the crowd and the event assumed historic significance. The organisers of the game aptly felt that all of them deserved gold medals.

2. How does this stanza capture the reaction of the spectators?

Ans. We are informed that the nine athletes are accorded grand ovation for the great spirit shown by them. The spectacle is amazing and the spectators are also sensitive enough to understand the glory of the moment.

3. How did the contestants feel when they crossed the finish line together? Which words in the extract indicate their mood? How did the spectators react?

Ans. They were extremely delighted when they crossed the finish line together. The ‘beaming faces’ of the contestants indicated their mood. The spectators gave them a standing ovation recognising their great gesture.

4. Why were all participants in the race awarded with gold medals?

Ans. The organisers aptly felt that none of them was the sole winner of the game’s top honour. As a matter of fact, all of them equally deserved the honour by collectively contributing towards raising the standard of sportsmanship. That was the reason why all nine participants received gold medals.

5. How did the race in the Special Olympics become very special indeed?

Ans. Each of the athletes participating in the Special Olympics was fired with the longing, zeal and passion to achieve the top honour. However, when one of them stumbled during the decisive course of the most important event, other contestants showed a great gesture of sportsmanship, unmindful of their individual claims to glory. To them, helping their rival was the most important motive. It was because of them that the Special Olympics became so special.

6. How does the poem show the value of true sportsmanship?

Ans. True sportsmanship is not about winning medals by showing excellence in terms of skill and competence. Basically, it’s about a sportsperson’s commitment to fundamental human values that he/she expresses while maintaining the competitive spirit of a game. In this poem, the athletes participating in a Special Olympics event show the highest degree of such commitment, just at the time when they are competing with one another for top honours. During the course of the event, when each of them is trying to move ahead of others, one of them falls down. This brings the eight other participants to a sudden halt as they immediately stop and turn back to help him stand on his feet. While doing so, they do not care for their own prospects of winning the competition.

7. What is the theme of the poem? How is it conveyed?

Ans. The theme of the poem is the spirit of sportsmanship based on human values and humanitarian approach to sports. It is conveyed by the response of eight 100 metre-race contestants to the ninth contestant of the race who falls at the most critical moment. The eight athletes immediately rush towards the fallen athlete and help him. Thereafter, they no longer remain rivals competing for the top honour of the game. Instead, they establish camaraderie, thereby suggesting the precedence of the spirit of sportsmanship over competitive spirit.

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