An Olympic Day of Activities at St Thomas of Canterbury

On Sunday 24th June Amy Fox was in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, to run an Olympic activities day at St Thomas of Canterbury. She was joined by a small by enthusiastic group of families from St Thomas of Canterbury and St Christopher’s. Following Mass, the families enjoyed tea and coffee and a medal worthy test of Olympic knowledge. With most families gaining gold for their efforts, especially concerning the tricky question of the beginning of the marathon as an Olympic event:

1)      What event brought about the first marathon?

a)   In 490 BCE, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran 25 miles from the town Marathon to Athens to inform the Athenians of the outcome of a battle with the invading Persions. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks’ success in the battle, Pheippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, there was a race  of the same length held in commemoration

b)   In 1896, during the first modern Olympic games, Thansis Papatheodorou was forced to run to and from his hometown, Athens in order to compete, as he was unable to finance any other method of travel. After his victory in the 10,000 metres the Olympic committee, in honour of his strength and determination, decided to create a new event named by combining the Greek translation of these two words – marathon.

c)   In the 1924 Olympics Benjamin Collins and Klaus Schaffer tied for first place in the 10,000 metres. Both, unable to accept the draw, then suddenly began to run around the track again, with Collins eventually winning. Though the impromptu rematch was ignored it alerted the Olympic committee to the possibility of a longer race being held. One that was eventually named after the Greek words for its increased length.

Yet even a few doctors, who were attending, crashed and burned over the hurdle of a question about the reason why Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie holds his arm crooked when he runs:

2)  Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie, winner of two Olympic gold medals, has a very distinctive running style as his left arm is crooked. Is the reason for this that:

a)   An accident as a teenager left his left arm badly broken and, due to insufficient medical treatment, it did not heal correctly. Due to this Gebrselassie cannot stretch his arm out fully or hold it in a straight, high position when his muscles are tensed

b)   Gebrselassie had to run 10km to school every morning, and back every evening; the crook in his arm is a consequence of him having to carry his books during these journeys

Then came a shared lunch followed by some CAFOD sports icebreakers. The families made a football from carrier bags to play ‘All to Play For’ – a game of handball set in the Kenyan slum of Korogocho and based on the experiences of the talented young people who live there. The game looks past the competition from 205 countries around the world battling it out in over 300 events to the bigger challenge of tackling the reasons why poverty exists. This gave the day a very thought provoking and entertaining end.

A big thank you to the parishioners who attended; and for giving donations, towards CAFODs work, that came to a total of £100. As well as a big thank you to Chris Walker for organising the event and to Fr Dominic and the parish for hosting.

If you would like Amy or one of our volunteers to visit your parish to run a session, or if you are a youth leader in the Birmingham Diocese and you would like to inspire your young people to put their faith into action by engaging in global justice, we can provide advice, resources, training or even tailor-made sessions. Please get in touch with Amy on 01922 722944 or e-mail

Answers to the questions: Question 1 – a. Question 2 – b.


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