Athlete: An Exploration of the Term

High School Studies Definition Essay for English 101 (9/17/2004)

MJWhat is an athlete? The dictionary defines an athlete as “a person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, which are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contests (” Throughout history, many great athletes have arisen, showcasing their superior talent and ability, admired by many across the globe.

Athletes have existed since the beginning of mankind, but the Olympics of ancient Greece were the first time in recorded history that man actually competed to determine who the best athlete was in certain events. The first Olympic Games took place way back in 776 BC in a city called Olympia. Greek men competed in several different events including running, wrestling, boxing, and chariot racing ( These Greek athletes, just like the athletes of today, had to go through years of training to become such phenomenal athletes. In early childhood these men began training with three different types of trainers: physical, exercise, and massage, and through years of this rigorous training these young boys turned into excellent athletes ( The Olympic competitions of today are still the best way of determining the world’s top athletes in different events. Today there are many more events then there were back then, including different swimming, track and field, and gymnastic events, as well as many team games, too. Athletes now have to train very hard to get to the top, just like they did in ancient Greece. Through modified training methods, and a variety of muscle enhancing drugs and vitamins, the athletes now have superior athletic ability then those of the ancient Olympics. The Olympic Games have, and will continue to produce and display the world’s elite athletes.

Over the years, many great superstars have emerged as great athletes, displaying their superior talent. When I think of the word athlete, the first person that comes to mind is Carl Lewis. Born on July 1st, 1961, in Birmingham, Alabama, Lewis showed signs of greatness at a young age. Lewis was a star all through out high school and at the University of Houston in various track and field events. He began showing his greatness in the World Championships of 1983, winning three gold medals. Then, in the 1984 Olympics, he matched Jesse Owens’ record by winning four gold medals. He won gold in the 100 and 200-meter sprints, the long jump, and 400-meter relay. He succeeded in winning two more gold medals, as well as silver, in the 1988 Olympics. He won gold in the long jump, becoming the first athlete in history to do so in consecutive Olympics, and in the 100-meters. In 1992, Lewis won two additional gold medals, including his third consecutive long jump title. He won his final gold medal in the 1996 Olympics winning the long jump for the 4th straight time. He finished his career with an Olympic record of nine track and field gold medals, proving his greatness (

An athlete is not only determined by how fast they are, or how high they can jump, it is also determined by their competitive spirit and will to win. Michael Jordan is one of the most competitive athletes of our era. He would do whatever it took to win a game. If it meant flying sky high for a slam-dunk, finding a teammate for an open look, or sinking the game winning shot, he would do it. He possessed exceptional athletic talent as well. He dazzled spectators with an array of fantastic shots and slams He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, including three straight, in 1991, 92, and 93. In addition he won the NBA’s most valuable player award in 1991 and 1992 (

Some of the greatest sports players to ever play were not the most physically gifted in their sport. A perfect example of this is John Stockton. Stockton was not the quickest, fastest, strongest, and certainly not the tallest to play at his position. He used his smarts and vision to make him one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Stockton used the players around him to win games. He seemed to always find the open man, this being most apparent in his NBA record 15,806 assists. He wasn’t only an excellent offensive player; he was great on defense as well. This is most evident in his NBA record 3,265 steals, showing that he used his vision just as much on defense to outsmart his opponent ( Stockton is one of the greatest strategic athletes of all time.

What is an athlete? An athlete is determined by many different characteristics. Natural, God-given talent, proper training, competitive spirit, instinct, and court sense. Most athletes possess one or two of these traits, but only the truly great ones have a perfect mix of all of them.




Works Cited

“Ask Earl.” 2004. Yahoo. 10 September 2004 <http:/

“Athlete Definition.” World.Net 2.0, Princeton University, 2003. 10 September 2004 <;

“John Stockton.” NBA Media Ventures 2003. NBA. 12 September 2004.

“Jordan, Michael (Jeffrey).” A&E Television Networks, 2002. Page 1 and 2. 12 September 2004 <;

“Lewis, Carl.” 12 September 2004 <;

“The Ancient Olympics.” AbleMedia, 2000. Classics Technology Center. 11 September 2004 <;

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