104 Admirable Athletes

Listen as a group of people talk about which professional athletes they admire most.


Aiman, Syria
speakerI like so many athlete, and as I was changing sports I liked Michael Jordan, Larry Bird in basketball. I liked Lance Armstrong when Iwas doing cycling, and right now I can't think of anyone. But I think Lance Armstrong was and still is my favorite, I think.

Cheryl, Guam
speakerWho is the best athlete I like? Well, he's a very famous athlete. His name is Michael Phelps and I really like him because one, he's very handsome. Two, he's obviously very talented. He's broken world records for swimming and most recently in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he really came forth and took the spotlight from a lot of other swimming athletes.

Jonathan, Canada
speakerWho is a famous athlete I like? I like a lot of athletes for the skills they demonstrate when they're on the court, on the ice, on the field and such, but I can't really say I hold any of them up as a role model. I don't respect them to a higher degree than I would other figures. I think a lot of people respect athletes too much for their ability to bounce a ball or hit a ball. I do respect some athletes like Dikembe Mutombo who was a famous basketball player who used his profile and his money to do a lot of good work in his native Africa.

Liz, Sweden
speakerThe famous athlete that I like is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the football player from Sweden actually. I like him because he stands for success and he's just a really good football player.

Jeff, Canada
speakerA famous athlete that I like would be maybe Michael Jordan because of his tenacity and intensity to win every time he played and to be the best was quite incredible.

Hoa, Vietnam
speakerI would say I like David Beckham, but I think I like him in the past better than now. The reason why I like him because he's a very good footballer, and you know, like apart from his professional life - career - he has some very good, you know, a big family. He has children. He knows how to manage his professional life and his private life which I like about him. And he did a lot of advertising, commercials, and he's kind of sexy. That's why I like him.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

take the spotlight


He took the spotlight from the other swimmers.

A spot light is a beam of light that shines on a performer on stage. When we take the spotlight, we become the center of attention in a situation. Here are some samples:

  1. The Chinese gymnasts took the spotlight at the summer games.
  2. I’m quite shy and don’t enjoy taking the spotlight in any situation.

hold someone up


I don't hold anyone up as a role model.

To hold someone up means to think of them as special. We usually use this phrase to talk about someone we respect. Notice the following sentences.

  1. After the scandal broke, he was no longer held up as a role model.
  2. As a boy, I held my older brother up and wanted to be just like him.

respect to higher degree


I respect him to a higher degree.

When we respect someone to a higher degree, we admire their qualities or accomplishments more than others. Here are two more examples.

  1. As an adult, I respect my father to a higher degree than when I was a teenager.
  2. I generally don’t respect celebrities to a higher degree because they are famous.

tenacity and intensity


I like Michael Jordan because of his tenacity and intensity to win every time.

Tenacity means to work long and hard to achieve a goal. Intensity means to do it with focus and energy. Here are a couple of sample sentences

  1. His tenacity and intensity, more than intelligence, got him through college.
  2. It was her tenacity and intensity that won her a spot on the team.

professional life


He knows how to manage his professional life and his private life.

Your professional life describes the time you spend at work or with job related situations. Notice the following.

  1. His busy professional life leaves him little free time to spend with his family.
  2. The demands of professional life can often be quite stressful.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
spotlight • held up • respect
tenacity • professional
  1. Her life is more important that her private life.
  2. He was in the for his new novel.
  3. She was as a role model for young women.
  4. To win, an athlete often needs .
  5. I have a lot of for teachers.