Improving vocabulary with the BBC (24 July 2017)– Listen While You Read.

Michael Phelps loses ‘race’ to Great White shark

The world’s most decorated Olympic swimmer completed 100m in open ocean off South Africa in 38.1 seconds to the shark’s 36.1. The Discovery Channel aired the “race”.

But what viewers actually saw was a montage of Phelps swimming alongside a computer-generated Great White. (Montage: To connect various pictures/ videos – often by superimposing – to show them as one)

Before Sunday’s broadcast, Discovery had the 28-time Olympic medallist, who is now retired, and the shark swim the course separately.

Computer-generated footage of a shark was then superimposed over the swimmer to look like they were racing alongside each other. (Superimpose: To put one thing over another)

Some social media users loved the “race” idea, but many said that they felt “robbed” by the simulation. (Simulation: Imitation, enactment or copy of something actual/ real)

Although the US athlete represents the peak of human athletic prowess, he can only swim at a top speed of 5-6mph (8-10km/h) without a monofin, while a Great White is capable of doing at least 25mph in short bursts. (Prowess: Exceptional bravery, strength, or ability)

But humans have long pitted themselves against dangerous animals, often ones they know are much faster.

They have done this for money; to draw attention to a cause; to create a spectacle, and perhaps also out of an inflated sense of what humans are capable of. (Spectacle: )

Here is another instance when man has raced beast.

Bryan Habana, one of the fastest players in international rugby, decided to take on the world’s fastest land animal in 2007 as part of an event sponsored by a conservation group.

Habana is quick, but not Usain Bolt quick – running the 100m in 10.4 seconds at his best (compared with Bolt’s 9.58 world record).

Still, the then 23-year-old, keen to raise awareness about the decline of the cheetah, fancied his chances.

The cheetah was tempted with a dangling leg of lamb which it chased during the race, while Habana, who was given a significant head start, gave it all he had. (Tempt: To allure, attract someone to do something)

The end was close but the cheetah just got over the line first. Habana asked for a re-run and was soundly beaten.

Today’s words are:

  1. Montage
  2. Superimpose
  3. Simulation
  4. Prowess
  5. Tempt

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