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  Words in the News
  Ten years ago the Berlin wall collapsed and with it East Germany as a sporting superpower. BBC correspondent Harry Peart reported.

11 November 1999

Downfall of a sporting superpower

  Audio Listen to the first part of the report

Soon after the wall was built, the East German Government decided that domination in sport was to be a major propaganda tool. A disproportionate amount of scarce money was poured into elite sporting clubs. Talent-spotters scoured the land for potential youngsters as young as eight who had the essentials to become future stars. From 1968, when East Germany first appeared as a separate state in the Olympics, until its last outing in 1988, it won more than 500 medals. During the same period, only the Soviet Union and the United States took home more. From BBC correspondent Harry Peart


domination in sport: being the leading sporting nation

propaganda: information often inaccurate or biased used to influence people

propaganda tool
: something used to support propaganda

scarce: if something is scarce there is not much of it

talent-spotter: in this case a person whose job it is to go round looking for people with natural sporting ability. Also commonly known as a talent-scout

scoured the land: made a thorough search throughout the country

: all the necessary requirements
NEWS 2   But the breaching of the wall brought the whole sporting structure crashing down. One month afterwards, public resentment forced the Government to withdraw its subsidies to the sports ministry and the sports clubs. There was public backlash against the privileged elite who had a life of relative luxury and received payments for winning medals.

breaching: in this case, breaking through the wall

withdraw its subsidies: remove its financial support

: a strong negative public reaction to a situation

privileged elite
: in this case a small group which had advantages the general public did not have

: in comparison with a specific group; in this case comparing the East German public with the elite sporting stars


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