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Video Clip Synopsis:
Georgina Parkes and Lisa Forrest are competing together in the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. The loser, Georgina Parkes, struggles with her disappointment.

2min 23sec

The Pain of Coming Second is an excerpt from the film We Both Want To Win (24 mins), an episode of the series Striving (8 x 25 mins), produced in 1984.

We Both Want To Win: The goal is to win Commonwealth Games gold medals for the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke events. We follow two top contenders, both Australians: Georgina Parkes and Lisa Forrest. Their approaches to the impending confrontation are different, reflecting the training methods of their coaches. The rivalry between the girls is intense and culminates in the final - where there is a winner... and a loser.

Striving: This series takes a close personal look at 11 athletes preparing for and competing in the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982 in an effort to understand what makes people suffer enormous physical and emotional stress to become top world athletes. They come from diverse backgrounds but all share a drive to win. Why do they do it? Each athlete tries to explain. They discuss their early involvement in sport and their reasons for striving to become the best. Families and coaches talk about their part in preparing and motivating the athletes to win.

Striving was produced by Film Australia.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 9-10
Theme: Civic Work

Key Concepts

Sport; Body language; Success; Failure

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(1997 Syllabus) C5 Mass media
(2003 Syllabus) Stage 5 Outcome 4
NT:R/V 5.1 – 5.3
R/V 5+.1-5+.3
Qld:Cr 6.2
SA:Texts and contexts 5.3
Tas:Communicating – Being literate, Standard 4
Vic:Reading – Texts 6.6
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

Context / Background Information

Australia's women's swimming team has been one of the most successful national sporting teams in Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Championships for many decades.

The strength of the team means that frequently Australians have to compete against each other in the finals.

This video clip focuses on the women's 200 metre backstroke event for the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

Although winning and losing is part of organised sport, our culture often bombards us with messages that winning is everything.

Professional sports people, who are often our role models, are in it to win. It is different for amateurs and children, where having fun, getting exercise and learning social skills are just as important.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. What is the message of the video clip?
  3. There is no narration, How does the video clip get this message across? Consider the music, editing, sound, focus on the individuals, the crowd watching and cheering etc.
  4. What is your impression of Georgina Parkes, the swimmer who has come second?
  5. If you were to meet her tomorrow what would you say to her as a result of your having watched this clip?
  6. Consider this information: Georgina Parkes had just come second in her second final, the 100 metres backstroke as well as the 200 metres backstroke. Does this knowledge influence your reaction to her or your impression of her?
  7. Consider this information: Georgina won the 200 metres backstroke final at the next Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986, and came second in the 100 metres final. Does this knowledge influence your reaction to her or your impression of her?
  8. Lisa Forrest, the winner of the 1982 event, has become a television presenter, actor and author. Does this knowledge influence your reaction to the video clip?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. The video clip shows very clear examples of body language among the competitors. Select at least four different emotions that you can identify just from the body language of the people shown.
  2. Imagine that you have been asked to create a film about teamwork in a sporting team. There is to be no narration of the film. Create a storyboard that sets out the main sequence and types of shot, the images, sounds and music that you might include to achieve this.
  3. Imagine that you are a journalist at the event. Interview the two Australian athletes. Do you ask them the same questions? Explain your reasons. Then write your article. What is your main message? Why have you chosen this message rather than several other possible ones?
  4. Invite a past sporting star to class to discuss ‘life after sport’.
  5. Sport has a large place in Australian life. Much government money is spent supporting sport — for example, Georgina Parkes had a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport, as do many other athletes. Should the government spend money in this way on sport? If someone is good enough, shouldn’t they make their own way in the sport? Or does this sponsorship benefit not only the athlete, but also the nation? Research the issue of government sponsorship of sport and prepare a case for or against it to present as an election campaign speech.

Modules That Use This Clip

Health/PE Year 7-8, English Year 7-8, English Year 9-10