Every four years, in midsummer, the entire world becomes intoxicated by the highest plateau in competitive sport: the Olympic Games. Its origins shrouded in Grecian mystery, the Olympics has blossomed in to the most recognised sporting event in the world for both its summer and winter editions.
Ever heard of The World Games? Surprisingly few have.
The World Games is a global, quadrennial multi-sport competition which features a range of sports which aren’t part of the preceding Olympic Games programme. Far from being the “Olympic rejects”– an unwarranted title occasionally suggested by Olympic purists – every sport contested in the World Games is certified by the International Olympic Committee; this is a high honour which is often perceived as a stepping stone to entry in to the Olympic Games itself. It is also mandated that only the best athletes and teams may compete, having established themselves at their respective world championships or equivalent.
I think I’ve sufficiently bigged up the event; let’s check out some of the sports involved.
Tug of War
Once part of the Olympic Athletic Programme – following a 20-year stint in the summer Olympic Games – Tug of War is still competed at all levels, from rural Scottish “highland games” to the world championships. It’s the same game you played as a kid but in teams of 8, totalling over 600kg bodyweight, it’s also a demonstration of incredible physical strength. Watching live is surprisingly exciting and you’ll quickly decide which team is your favourite and root for them, praying there are no slippages!
As discussed in a previous article korfball is an up-and-coming sport. Included in the World Games since 1985 it is one of the few mixed-gender sports that is contested at the highest possible level; ultimate is another.
Korfball is great to watch because – unlike its close relative basketball – it’s quite low scoring, very intense and every score will get you jumping in your seat. Have your eyes peeled if anyone takes a strong lead against the Netherlands – they’ve never tasted anything but gold at the Games!
One of the most intriguing individual sports on show at the Games, finswimming is more diverse than you might imagine. Competitors can enter in to monofin or bifin (one fin per foot) races over similar distances as conventional swim races.
Watching a bifin 100m is like watching a turbo-fuelled Michael Phelps in the water: they seem to skim across the surface with incredible pace and elegance. Think the butterfly stroke is impressive? Try watching an underwater monofin race and gape at the strength and power on display as they glide through the water.
An absolute fan-favourite. Watching canoe polo for the first time will blow your mind. At first glance a chaotic, uncontrolled melee, it is in fact a wicked combination of physical contact, explosive strength, pinpoint passing and team strategy which is awfully addictive for the impartial viewer.
It is competitively dominated by western European nations but is growing all the time. If you can’t wait for the 2017 World Games – and you shouldn’t – then get online and check out the free footage of this brilliantly dynamic game.
In fact, footage from previous World Games is available for all of these sports plus a catalogue of others besides. The only real difference between this and the Olympics in terms of quality viewing, is that they’re showcasing different sports. Get on it, and discover more unique sports which are on the rise across the world!