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Sport Collection

This is our collection of favourite mathematics and sport materials.

Going for Gold

Looking at the 2012 Olympic Medal table, can you see how the data is organised? Could the results be presented differently to give another nation the top place?

Olympic Starters

Look at some of the results from the Olympic Games in the past. How do you compare if you try some similar activities?

Now and Then

Age 7 to 11
Challenge Level

Now and Then

In $1908$ the Olympic Games were held in London, that's just over $100$ years ago. Then, just after World War $2$ they were again in London in $1948$

Here are the results from some track events;


$100$ metres $10.8$ secs

$200$ metres $22.6$ secs

$400$ metres $50.0$ secs

$800$ metres $112$ secs

$1500$ metres $240$ secs


$100$ metres $10.3$ secs

$200$ metres $21.1$ secs

$400$ metres $46.2$ secs

$800$ metres $109$ secs

$1500$ metres $229$ secs

The 2012 London Olympics were another 64 years later.
How did the results differ?
Could you have predicted the results?
Perhaps more importantly, what's the reason for your answer?

Why do this problem

This activity gives an opportunity for pupils to examine data and then consider all different kinds of influencing factors in order to predict what will happen another $64$ years on. It can offer a good forum for debate and discussion while sharing views about things that will affect the results. It may help some children to understand that any answer can be deemed 'correct' so long as it can be justified.

Possible approach

For many classrooms it would be best to give the results of one event to each group of pupils. They will obviously need opportunities to work as a group and come up with an agreed result. When these results are shared towards the end of the session, there could be some further discussions about the results for one year. This could involve looking at the relationships between the timings for different distances.


Key questions


What do you think is important about deciding the times for that race?
Tell me about your ideas.
Do the whole group agree? If not, why?


Possible extension


Ask questions such as:
What do you think about these results getting better and better as time goes on?
What about the results in another $100$ years time?
This should give the opportunity for some good creative thoughts to be shared.
Results from other years could also be examined to see whether results steadily improve or whether there are any sudden changes in the patterns. What might be the reasons for this? Children who are beginning to understand what graphs can mean may like to take a look at those in the activity Olympic Records.

Possible support

Some pupils may need help in making sense of the results. They could look at the distances on the sports field to get a real idea of what the distances are like.
It may also be helpful to see what they can do in periods of $10$ secs, $21$ secs, and $22$ secs so that they understand just how quickly these races are being run.