This article is part of a series in collaboration with ParticipACTION. Discover how "Everything gets better when you get active!"
Some of the world’s best athletes will compete for gold during this winter’s games in Beijing. But there’s more to the world of sports than the events that qualify for the games. From Finland’s wife-carrying to Malaysia’s national sport of Sepak Takraw, human beings have been dreaming up unique ways to challenge themselves physically and mentally for centuries.
Here are 7 out-there sports and sports competitions that won’t make this year’s games, but deserve points for creativity and pluck, nonetheless.
If you thought CrossFit was challenging, wife-carrying ups the ante on extreme physical challenge. The feat of strength, which first originated in Finland, sees male competitors run through a 250-metre obstacle course while carrying a female teammate on their back. The competitor that completes the course in the fastest time wins their female partner’s weight in beer as well as a few other minor tokens, including a trophy.
2. Underwater hockey
Also known as octopush, underwater hockey involves two teams hitting the pool and competing to push a puck into the opposing team’s underwater goal using a small pusher stick. Players are equipped with snorkels, fins, diving masks and large gloves. This non-contact sport’s origins go back to training exercises created by the British navy in the 1950s to keep divers in top form. A dynamic and challenging sport, it’s played around the globe (Canada has its own team) and even has a world championship meet.
3. Chess boxing
Chess boxing combines the discipline of chess with the sweet science of boxing. The sport, which was reportedly dreamed up by a French artist for a comic book, was first played in Berlin in 2003. The competition usually alternates three-minute rounds of boxing with four-minute rounds of chess, leading up to 11 rounds in total (there’s a one-minute pause between the rounds). Winning comes down to either getting a checkmate in chess or a knockout. If neither is achieved, then the winner is determined based on points achieved.
4. Egg throwing
Simplicity is key when it comes to oddball activities. In the case of egg throwing, the point is to catch the precious shelled cargo in a variety of ways without breaking it, from a simple catch-and-throw to trebuchet release and targeted throwing. Egg throwing is an English sport – according to the BBC, there was an attempt to recognize it as an official sport in 2011 – that has ancient roots, with some people dating the practice back to the 14th century. The World Egg Throwing Championships take place in Swaton, a rural village in Lincolnshire.
Kabbadi originated in India and reportedly dates back 4,000 years, but it’s played around the world, including in Canada. The sport combines elements of wrestling with tag and a sprinkling of Red Rover. To play, two teams of seven players face each other across a court. One team links its arms as the opposing team sends a player known as a “raider” into their area of the court. Once there, the raider must try and tag as many of the opposing team’s players as possible before returning to their side of the court. The raider must accomplish this and get back to their side of the court in one breath and without getting tackled.
6. Toe wrestling
Most of us have probably heard of thumb wrestling, but according to English tradition, it’s something you can do with your feet, too. Toe wrestling originated in England in the 1970s and it’s about as simple as it sounds. Competitors shed their socks and shoes and “wrestle” using their big toes (toes must be fungus-free to compete, and yes, there’s an inspection before play). The player that can pin their opponent’s toe down with theirs wins the day. The world championships are held annually in Derbyshire, England.
7. Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw, which is also known as kick volleyball, combines both volleyball and soccer. It’s an ancient game that started in Southeast Asia. To play, teams of two to four players meet on a court divided by a net. The teams must keep a small rattan ball in the air for as long as possible without using their hands to do so (legs, head, chest and feet are allowed). The game, which is the national sport of Malaysia, has only increased in popularity since after World War II and is even played in Canada.
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