As I’m (really, really) sure you know by now, the Olympics are currently taking place. The world's leading sports competition, formed of series of contests in which athletes at the very top of their nation's class have trained for months and years on end to compete for the chance to win that elusive gold medal, and bathe the collected admiration of spectators around the globe.
But what about those other, less publicised sports that didn’t make it into the Games? Whether it’s going for glory in extreme ironing or mobile phone throwing, we think it's high time that the unsung heroes in these events had their time in the spotlight too.
Nude Rugby International
Everyone knows that rugby is a seriously intense sport. Requiring strength, stamina and teamwork, it’s not a game for the faint-hearted. Well, tackles take an even more prominent role in New Zealand’s Nude Rugby International (sorry), which takes place every year, featuring the er, crème de la crème of naked rugby player talent.
Crying Baby Sumo
In Tokyo, the prestigious 400-year-old Nakizumo (aka ‘baby cry sumo’) contest is celebrated every year. Two sumo wrestlers each hold a baby aloft, and attempt to make his infant cry by making faces and frightening noises – the baby who cries first (or loudest) is named the victor. Competitive sport or child cruelty? That’s up to you – but you have to admit, it’s a lot more entertaining than watching Olympic sailing.
World Stinging Nettle Eating Championship
Truly a test of resolve and endurance, competitors at the annual World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships (which takes place at The Bottle Inn, Dorset) attempt to fill their bellies with as many of the painful plants as possible. The next contest is scheduled for 4th August; get involved (or not)!
World Chess Boxing
An event pairing physical strength with mental prowess – is this the ultimate test of manhood? With big followings in London and Berlin, the format is simple: a four-minute chess round, followed by three minutes of boxing, with alternating rounds of chess and boxing until there is a winner (typically by knockout or checkmate). Why this isn’t an Olympics event is beyond us.
World Gurning Championships
Cumbria’s annual Egremont Crab Fair sees a range of traditional rustic events, including pony leaping and the parade of the apple cart – oh, and the World Gurning Championships, which involve putting your face through a horse’s collar and pulling the most twisted, unattractive face imaginable. Pictured is 2011’s winner, Tommy Mattinson – we hear he’s single, ladies!
Mobile Phone Throwing
Now, we’ve all had the urge to throw our phones across the room at one point or another – and back in 2000, those clever Fins had the bright idea to channel our 21st Century rage into a competitive sport! Participants are judged on distance, aesthetics and creative choreography, and annual world tournaments are now held every year in Finland (with additional championships in places like the UK and the US).
Extreme Ironing World Championships
If regular ironing just isn’t pushing your buttons anymore (and let’s face it; it probably isn’t), why not test your hand at extreme ironing? The Extreme Ironing Bureau (yes, this actually exists), describe the sport as ‘an outdoor activity that combines the danger and excitement of an 'extreme' sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt’. Ooh. The Championships started in Leicester in 1997, and have seen competitors iron their clothes in weird and wonderful locations like cliff faces and sea floors.
The Redneck Games
In Georgia, USA, spectators gather for miles around for the yearly Redneck Games. Featuring a range of endurance-testing events like watermelon seed spitting, bobbin’ for pig feet and the mudpit belly flop, there’s a sport for everyone to enjoy, y’all, Don’t expect to see the likes of K-Mid and D-Becks in the crowd, though.