Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 164 | Gateway to Exams | Are Sports Stars Born or Made? | All Four-Skills

Welcome to Gateway to Exams! This is going to be a LONG ONE! We have reading, speaking, listening and writing ALL-IN-ONE! I’m going to write the majority down below, but remember to tune into the podcast for the listening and speaking segments! Let’s get into it!


What separates a competent player in a school or local team, form a gold-medal winning start? At what stage is it possible to identify potential new starts — in childhood, the teenage years or not until adulthood? Is that potential determined by their genes or their environment? Certainly, there is plenty of superficial evidence for the importance of genes.

1. ___. Well, the short answer is, maybe. That’s because, when we dig deeper into the influence of genes, we find that this is a highly complex area of science. Let’s take something as straightforward as height. It’s reasonable to assume that someone’s height is going to have a major impact on how far they can progress in certain sports like basketball or high jump. And research has also established that it’s a highly heritable characteristic — 80% is down to genes and 20% environment and diet.

2. ___. None of this is to say that genes aren’t important. It’s just that there are other aspects of sports performance that are going to be easier to identify and manipulate. For starters, few young athletes would be able to get involved with sports at all without help from their parents, who provide valuable resources including transportation, finance and emotional support. then it’s also widely recognized that coaches contribute to an athlete’s development in numerous ways.

3. ___. In deed, Sir Clive Woodward, formerly the England rugby coach, believes that there are very few things that cannot be coached. However, most coaches would also recognize that there are certain influences that they do not control and one of the most crucial of these is the wider culture. Why do so many good ice hockey players come from Canada? Footballers from Brazil? Rugby players from New Zealand?

4. ___. Admittedly, there’s little that most sportspeople can do to influence this. But what is relatively easy to change is where a young athlete grows up. Evidence suggests that this should be neither too small nor too big: minor towns lack the necessary facilities and in larger centers and facilities become overloaded. There’s also the debate about age. Is it better to allow children to play a broad spectrum of sports before choosing a specialization, or to specialize young?

5. ___. Given this, specializing too young could be a mistake. But whichever route an athlete takes, this has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with the environment. So is there any role at all for genetics in determining top athletes? The answer seems to be a qualified ‘yes’. That’s because knowing more about our genetic make-up can provide information of great value to athletes.

6. ___. The truth, then, is that top athletes need both nature and nurture. Few, if any, are going to make it to the very top on raw talent alone; it will take years of dedicated training and coaching as well. But certain inherent physical abilities may predispose an individual to reach the highest ranks of a particular sport.


A. The most obvious is to optimize the athlete’s training and so enable them to advance to higher levels of attainment. But their role is wider than is generally understood and may include everything from nutrition to psychology.

B. The choice may vary depending on the individual. Remember, however, that many sports complement each other, lending skills that can transfer to another discipline and enhance a youthful athlete’s abilities.

C. However, that’s where the simplicity ends. Scientists have — so far — identified hundreds of thousands of different variations in DNA that can account for how tall someone is.

D. How else can we explain why some athletes become world-class within 12 months of taking up a sport, while others train for years and are never more than mediocre? Is there any other explanation for why certain countries like Jamaica seem to dominate sprint races while East African athletes dominate distance running events?

E. It may the sort of foods or training programs that are most beneficial fo their body type or learning more about their susceptibility to certain injuries. And it might provide insights into which sports they’re most likely to excel at.

F. That’s because athletes have so far shown very little enthusiasm for this sort of experimentation. Instead, they have preferred to rely on established techniques.

G. this is one aspect of elite sporting success that’s difficult to pin down, but, say the experts, hard to overstate. The fact remains that certain national identities seem to have so much invested in one particular sport that it makes further success in that sport inevitable.

Gateway c1


You are going to listen to five people talking about doing voluntary work. Listen and complete both tasks.

Task 1

For questions 1-5, choose from the list (A-H) what type of voluntary work each speaker is talking about. There are three extra letters which you do not need ot use.

A. collecting money on the streets

B. environmental work

C. helping at a homeless shelter

D. helping at a hospital

E. helping at a library

F. charity shop assistant

G. building a skate park

H. website creation

Task 2

For questions 6-10, choose from the list (A-H) the reason each speaker gives for doing this voluntary work. There are three extra letters which you do not need to use.

A. researching a future career

B. developing business contracts

C. getting to know a new area

D. relieving stress

E. acquiring new skills

F. keeping physically fit

G. being part of a team

H. believing in the cause.

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