Are you one of the 1.5 billion people expected to watch the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games which got underway on Wednesday 23rd July in Glasgow? With 71 nations competing in 261 medal events across 17 sports in 11 days, it certainly will be an action packed week and a half.
From athletics to badminton to hockey to gymnastics, the Commonwealth Games will be showcasing the popular sports undertaken by many of us from an early age at school. But this got us thinking here at Transun, what sports are hugely popular, or indeed unique, to some of our travel destinations? Here’s our top four:
1. Picigin, Croatia
Beach holidays are synonymous with various forms of beach games, from bat and ball to volleyball - but have you ever tried Picigin? Originating from Split, this amateur ball game is played in the shallow beach waters. Picigin rules are simple, keep the small ball from touching the water using the palms of your hands only (although we are sure there are extra bonus points for hitting innocent beach goers!) Although this ball game will never reach the dizzying heights of the Olympics, many players of Picigin look as though they are training for the games with impressive, over the top and extravagant acrobatic diving and gymnastic manoeuvres in the shallow waters of the sea.
2. Orienteering, Sweden
For many of us, orienteering is usually played out in the car, with two players: The Driver and the dreaded Front Seat Passenger. Games usually involve map throwing, hours of silence, thundering stares and continual adamant use of the ‘scenic route’ phrase. In recent years the umpire ‘GPS’ has made its debut, however like with most umpire’s decisions, the ‘GPS’ is not always right. However, in Sweden, orienteering is about running a designated course as fast as possible with only a map and compass as tools. It is one of Sweden’s most popular sports attracting more than 100,000 runners of all abilities.
3. Nordic skiing, Norway
Few activities can claim to be a total body workout but Nordic skiing is both an aerobic and cardio exercise. This low impact sport otherwise known as Nordic walking, has the potential in one hour to burn more calories than partaking in downhill skiing for the same amount of time. Using over 90 per cent of the muscles in the human body, it is no surprise that numerous researchers have found a multitude of health benefits for this sport.
Nordic Skiing is a hugely popular Norwegian pastime and is central to the country’s identity. The country introduced ski competitions in the 18th Century for its soldiers and the first non-military ski event occurred in 1843 at Tromsø.
4. Gllma Wrestling, Iceland
Ever heard of Gllma Wrestling? Gllma the Old Norse word meaning ‘glimpse’ or ‘flash’ is a Scandinavian martial art developed by the Vikings over 1200 years ago. The combat system of Gllma was created to develop the strength, reflexes and endurance of Viking warriors to survive battle. In fact Gllma was so important to Viking society that their most popular God, Thor was also the Viking God of wrestling. According to some Gllma wrestling is the national sport of Iceland, with the first ever Gllma competition held back in 1888