You might not have noticed, but the Olympic Games and Paralympics have now finished. At times, it seemed like the world’s finest athletes had converged on London to decide whose sport could boast the most ridiculous terminology.

After sitting through far more Olympics than is strictly healthy, our crack business copywriters at Wordsworks have prepared a bluffer’s guide to unscrambling the commentators’ burble.

You’ve got four years to memorise them all…

  • Anchor – the last leg of a relay race
  • Five-hole or tweeners – shooting between the goalie’s legs in hockey (pictured above)
  • Paradox – the effect produced by an arrow flexing as it leaves the bow
  • Rudolph – a single straight front somersault with one-and-a-half twists
  • Eggbeater – a kicking motion in water polo to stop the player completely submerging, which would be illegal
  • Repechage – a trial heat, especially in rowing, giving competitors who have already lost a heat another chance to qualify for the semis
  • Portage – in canoeing, carrying the canoe for a distance over land to avoid waterborne obstacles or to cross from one body of water to another
  • Peloton – from the French word for ‘platoon’, the main body of riders in a cycle race
  • Break-line – the point on an athletics track where runners can veer from their lanes and use any part of the track
  • Tomato can – in boxing, a fighter whose is displaying very poor or diminished skills


Proof, if it were needed, that following what’s actually happening at the Olympics sometimes warrants a gold medal in itself…