From Wife-Carrying Race to Man vs Horse, Here are the World's Weirdest Sports Events
At the launch of the Fit India Movement at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, PM Narendra Modi remarked, 'Body fit hain toh mind hit hain'.
Image credit: Reuters/Wikipedia
All across the subcontinent, 29 August, 2019 is observed as National Sports Day better known to Indians as Rashtriya Khel Divas. The day commemorates the birth date of renowned hockey player Major Dhyan Chand who was born in the year 1905. He was more popularly known as “The Wizard” for his achievements in the field for which he was also awarded the Padma Bhushan award in 1956.
This day thus focuses on spreading fitness awareness among citizens of India. The President of India confers the prestigious sports awards for extraordinary performances of Indian athletes, including the Arjuna, Dronacharya and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards.
At the launch of the Fit India Movement at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, PM Narendra Modi remarked, “Body fit hain toh mind hit hain”.
Keeping this in mind, let's explore a few sports all over the world that are bizarre and probably do not manifest themselves as clear evidence for a healthy mind, though fit the players of the game might be.
• The Wife-Carrying World Championship: This bizarre "sport" originated in Finland and in case you were wondering what the game is about, it is exactly as its name suggests: a man carrying his wife on his back as part of a race. The former traditions of the game have changed and it can now be extended to a female teammate. The woman on piggyback has to be carried across an obstacle track and the one who finishes the fastest, wins the race. The reward definitely makes up for the strenuous job as the winner receives his wife or teammate’s weight in beer! So much for all the techniques like the piggyback, carrying her fireman style over his shoulder or upside-down with the legs over the shoulder, Estonian style!
A feminist reading of this would raise one pertinent question- where is the provision for the woman to carry her man to the finish line and drink his weight in beer?
• The Man vs. Horse Marathon: This marathon first started in Wales, is now an annual race which stretches for 35km. Once again, the rules entail exactly what the name suggests — the competition between riders on horseback and runners on the tracks. The race itself is studded with obstacles such as inclined slopes and dense shrubbery which must be overcome to prove the winner’s tenacity, be it against a horse or a human being.
The first one to defeat all opponents, animal and being alike, wins the race and is awarded a handsome sum of money, as the winner on horseback of the 2019 race, Mark Adams did. Different variations of the marathon, including shorter races take place in Scotland and New Zealand as well.
• Buzkashi: This game is a slight variation of the man vs. horse sport but more bizarre than the last, translating literally to “goat grabbing”. The national sport of both Afghanistan and Kyrgystan take a meat-lover’s obsession to surreal heights. The rules of the game include the positioning of a headless carcass of a goat in the middle of a field where it is surrounded by players of opposing teams, the players of which are called Chapandaz. The winner is required to grab the carcass and drag it to the goal area with raging opposition against the task. The players undergo rigorous training for a minimum of five years before they can enter the field and reach a level of mastery only after the age of 40.
It is interesting to note that the game was banned temporarily under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and resumed only after they were ousted.
• The World Bog Snorkelling Championship: If you have enjoyed snorkeling in the waters of the Andaman Islands, Tarkali or Netrani Islands, get ready to ruin those memories with these images of bog snorkeling, a sport that constitutes snorkeling through stinky, muddy water that runs the length of a trench dug through a peat bog. The championship first started in 1985 in Wales and has continued to this day. The competition requires participants to refrain from using conventional swimming techniques and wear just snorkels and flippers to get through with the race, swimming suits being an optional part of the attire. Participants must swim through the 55m twice for a total distance of 120 yards. The sport is also practiced in Australia, Ireland and Sweden along with its offshoots, the mountain bike bog snorkelling which includes snorkeling on mountain bikes and the bog snorkelling Triathlon which consists of snorkelling, a bike ride and end in a run.
• The Cardboard Tube Fighting League: Originating in Seattle Washington, this bizarre game now has an international gaming network stretching across San Francisco, California to Sydney, Australia. The rules of the sport are simple — to fight against your opponent in a cardboard costume, attempting to break your rival’s tube without breaking your own. In some competitions, the costumes are given free of cost to the participants.
• Sepak Takraw: This sport has its native roots in Southeast Asia and is quite popular sport in Malaysia. It is weird because of the sheer amount of stamina and athletic prowess required to play this game. Each opposing team consists of three members and are expected to play with a Takraw ball which has a similar size to that of a default softball and is made of plastic constituents. The game is said to resemble “soccer, volleyball and gymnastics all in one game” without the involvement of hands or arms. The players are only allowed to use their knees, feet, head and chest to knock the ball off. The name of the game is native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore but variations of the game are still played in the Philippines, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar with differing rules. It has its own offshoots called footvolley, bossaball, jianzi, jokgu, sipa and football tennis.
• Toe wrestling: If you are familiar with arm wrestling, this game might sound innovative to you. Invented in the United Kingdom in 1974, the game involves two players to lock each other’s foot down. Bare feet are a necessary requisite in this game and removing the opponent’s shoes and socks is considered to be common courtesy in this sport. Three rounds with altering sides starting with the right foot is the common norm. A few other games include Bellyflopping or falling flat on your belly in a pool of water, Kaninhop where rabbits are used for show jumping and extreme ironing where you have to do the daily chore of ironing clothes in extreme places.
Now for some of the bizarre Olympic sporting events that would surely surprise you.
• Racewalking: This event made its first appearance in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis and has more complicated rules than one would expect. According to USA Track & Field rules, "Race walking differs from running in that it requires the competitor to maintain contact with the ground and straighten their front knee when the foot makes contact with the ground, keeping it straightened until the knee passes under the body."
• Live Pigeon Shooting: It is earnest request to you to believe that this was an actual sporting event in the 1900 Paris Olympics and consisted of two types of competition, box birds and columbaire. The rules of the game were pretty straightforward- to shoot the maximum number of pigeons one could.
It made its debut with a total of 300 birds as casualties at the event, the only year in which animals were harmed as part of the competition. The sport is popular in Monaco and Havana but are not openly proclaimed, being played in closed areas such as privately owned gun clubs where admission is gain only through invitation.
• Poetry at the Olympics: Believe it or not, poetry was a part of the famous Olympic Games from 1912 to 1948, accepting poetry that was influenced by the idea of sport. It is now a story of the past, the existence of which cannot be denied. Poetry such as “A Rider’s Instructions to His Lover” and “Before the Gods of Olympia” are some of the works that were awarded to their narrators.
• Running Deer Shooting: Thankfully, the sport is not as gruesome as it sounds and only involved the cutouts of deer as they moved past the competitors who had to shoot them down. The event made its debut at the 1908 Olympic Games in London and continued for a while before being discontinued.
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