CONCORD -- Carlie Black's face had the combined expression of a beaming smile and a grimace as she completed 10 sit-ups for the first time.

"I never thought I could do so many," said the first-grader at El Monte Elementary School.

The winner of her grade level and gender heat in the scooter board race then eagerly raised her hand when asked if she wanted to go again.

Last week, an estimated 480 students were focused on fitness as fifth-grade teacher Kurt Adkins organized a schoolwide, kid-friendly facsimile of the Olympic Games.

"This ties in nicely with our goal, which is healthy lifestyle leads to healthy minds," said school Principal Christine Boman, citing a concern about childhood obesity rates.

"The emphasis was on teamwork, participation and trying your best, not on winning," she added.

Choosing four out of 10 events, children ran 50-yard dashes, swiveled their hips to keep a hula hoop circling while walking on the playground's black top, and balanced a golf ball on a spoon while fast-walking in a race.

A radar gun recorded the speed of their throwing, clocking first-grader Tyler Trette -- who has aspirations of one day being a pitcher -- at 28 miles per hour.

Adkins had almost grown accustomed to hearing the same response each time he asked students about their weekends.

"They played video games. I wanted to get them away from the electronics. The athletic conditioning is not what it should be," said Adkins, a former boys' baseball coach.

Jennifer Fitzgerald, president of the school's PTA, rallied the requisite parent volunteers to help run the activities.

"There was a variety of events where you are rewarded for trying your hardest ... and if you have great sportsmanship," she said.

Her daughter Samantha enjoyed participating in the activities with her friends and most liked running the quarter-mile marathon in the adjacent park.

"It was fun at the end when I was handed a bracelet," said the El Monte third-grader.

Meanwhile, fifth-grader Camille Lohse learned she had an impressive pitching arm, throwing at a speed of 45 miles per hour, and discovered the fun of moving a ball around the cones with a hockey stick, while her classmate Lilah Bermudez preferred the scooter board race.

"It was really clever. We were competing in a friendly way, and it was exercise for everyone," Lilah said, describing the days' events.

"It's fun to see the smiles on the kids' faces. That's immediate feedback and makes it all worthwhile," Adkins said, "and maybe they'll find something they really like and pursue it on their own time."

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