Mid Wales

Llanwrtyd Wells stages alternative Olympic games

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A town famed for its peculiar sports is staging an alternative to the Olympics, with underwater hockey, wife carrying and gravy wrestling among the events.

The World Alternative Games 2012 see people competing for gold, silver and bronze in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys.

The town is better known for hosting the World Bog Snorkelling Championships and Man versus Horse race.

The organisers joked that the Olympics with its running, jumping, cycling and swimming was rather mundane.

The alternative games started on Friday and last for a fortnight.

Llanwrtyd Wells has been staging unusual sporting events since 1980 in a bid to boost tourism.

The idea for its own version of the Olympics, with an array of unrecognised sports, came after London was named the host city for the official games.

Organisers claim their competitors in the 35 events will be just as dedicated as their Olympic and Paralympic counterparts, and just like the Olympics there will be an opening ceremony.

But it will not be as elaborate as London's and certainly will not cost as much, say the organisers.

Image caption The World Bog Snorkelling Championship is one of the annual events staged in Llanwrtyd Wells

One of the people behind the games is Gordon Green, who said the emphasis would be on taking part rather than winning.

He said: "We've been staging a number of events since 1980, but we wanted an alternative to the Olympics to show that people who take part in unusual sports are as committed as their Olympic counterparts.

"They might not train as hard, but they have easily as much fun."

Gravy wrestling originated in Lancashire, and Russian egg roulette features four eggs, one of them hard boiled, lined up in front of the competitors and they smash them against their heads. The winner is whoever finds the hard boiled one.

Wife carrying involves a half-mile course across a river and fields, but competitors do not have to be married and can be the same sex. The winner receives the weight of the person they carry in beer.

One of the more unusual sports is three-inch stiletto racing, which will see both men and women competing over 60 yards.

The town's annual world bog snorkelling championships at the end of the month will also form part of the alternative games.

The international underwater hockey championships come under the umbrella of the games, and will be staged in Newport.

Meanwhile, a number of events for children are planned on Monday with such as Pooh sticks and rock, paper, scissors.

Instead of a games flame, Llanwrtyd Wells's town fountain will flow for the duration, signifying its past as a famous spa town.

Unlike the four-yearly Olympics which take place every four years, the World Alternative Games are set to be biennial.

Mr Green said the games had received a £50,000 grant from the Welsh government.

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