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Story summary: Everyone knows that regular exercise will keep you fit and may prevent disease. But sport also seems to benefit countries as well as individuals.
 
Celebrating sport
 
Celebrating sport
 
The Rugby World Cup, won on 22nd November by England, led to a feel-good mood even among people who didn't usually follow rugby. Millions of television viewers cheered as fly-half Jonny Wilkinson scored the winning points with a drop-goal in the final minutes of extra time. The following Saturday more than 750,000 people turned out to cheer England's players on their victory parade in an open top bus through the streets of central London. This was followed by tea with The Queen at Buckingham Palace and a reception at Downing Street hosted by the Prime Minister.

The players were awarded honours in the New Year Honours List. These honours are awarded on merit, for exceptional achievement or merit in a number of fields. The England Rugby team coach, Clive Woodward, was knighted - so he becomes 'Sir Clive'. All the members of the team received an award, in contrast to the last time an England team won a World Cup. That was back in 1966, when England beat West Germany to win the Football World Cup. Some members of that team had to wait 30 years for official recognition.

Just before this year's Honours List was published it was revealed that some people who had been offered an award had decided not to accept it. Among the titles that are awarded are MBE (Member of the British Empire), OBE (Order of the British Empire) and CBE (Commander of the British Empire). It is this reference to an empire which no longer exists that has annoyed them.

Other countries have found the benefits of sport can be widespread. Australia hosted the last Olympic Games in 2000 and was widely praised for their success. The 2004 Games will be held in Athens, which is using the occasion to improve transport and other facilities, and the 2008 Games will be held in Beijing, which plans to build new metro lines and carry out environmental improvements.

  Links relating to this story:

New Year Honours List

Questions and Answers on the Honours list

Rugby stars in New Year Honours list

Rugby World Cup hailed as best ever

Scottish Sport's Hall of Fame

London's bid for the 2012 Olympics

BBC Wales: Sport in Wales

 

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Glossary

feel-good mood experiencing pleasant and happy emotions
fly-half "the brains of the backs" - number 10 in a rugby team
drop-goal when the fly half kicks the ball over the bar while running
extra time if the score is equal at the end of a game, extra time is played
Buckingham Palace official residence of the Queen
Downing Street official residence of the Prime Minister
New Year Honours List awards to people for achievement
knighted an award: the person receiving it is called "Sir" or "Dame"
official recognition when the government or someone in authority recognises the contribution of someone
offered asked if they wanted to accept
an award here, a title such as OBE which recognises what you have done
titles here, a word such as "Sir" used to show someone's status
awarded given, presented
benefits something which improves the quality of life
widely praised for their success a lot of people said they had been very good
metro lines mass transit railway
environmental improvements actions which help things around you such as air quality and public transport

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