7 quirky sports of SEA Games past and present

You won’t believe some of these sporting events used to be part of the SEA Games.

7 quirky sports of SEA Games past and present
7 quirky sports of SEA Games past and present
02 Jun 2015

7 quirky sports of SEA Games past and present

The Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) finally returns to Singapore after a 22-year hiatus.

To be held from June 5 to 16, the SEA Games will feature 36 sports and 402 events. While the biennial games have often been criticised for including traditional sports to boost the host nation’s medal tally, Singapore has decided to stick as close as possible to the Olympic Games programme. What this means is the exclusion of obscure sports. Here are some of them:
 

Finswimming
Finswimming
02 Jun 2015

Finswimming

Last seen at the Games: 2011

This is the closest you get to being a mermaid. A cross between swimming and snorkelling, finswimming involves swimming with monofins (it looks like a giant fish tail) or two fins, either on the surface using a snorkel or underwater with a small scuba tank and regulator.

It’s kind of like the Formula One of swimming because it’s a lot faster - it takes just half the usual time taken to complete a length across the pool.

Photo: EPA/Peter Komka HUNGARY OUT

Chinlone
Chinlone
02 Jun 2015

Chinlone

Last seen at the Games: 2013

A traditional Burmese sport, chinlone is played in teams of six with a small rattan ball. Like sepak takraw, players pass the ball around using high kicks and overhead touches to prevent it from dropping to the ground.

Now here comes the tricky part. The sport isn’t just about juggling the ball, style and artistry are equally important. Participants have to pass the ball around using moves similar to those of a dance or martial arts, while moving slowly in a circle.

On top of that, they also take turns to go to the centre for a “solo performnce” where they try to pull off as many cool moves as possible.

As chinlone is a non-competitive sport, Myanmar had to introduce formal rules and a scoring system when it made its debut at the 2013 Games.

Photo: EPA/LYNN BO BO

Petanque
Petanque
02 Jun 2015

Petanque

Last seen at the Games: 2013

Created in France and played in the SEA Games since 2001, petanque (pronounced "pay-tonk") has a reputation for being an old man’s sport.

It involves tossing metal balls, or boules, as close as possible to a coloured ball, known as jack, without knocking it out of position. Here, luck plays as big a part as skill.

If you are curious, you can check out the competition at the Padang during the Games. Admission is free.

Photo: EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Paragliding
Paragliding
02 Jun 2015

Paragliding

Last seen at the Games: 2011

Unlike some of the other sports mentioned earlier, paragliding might not be all that foreign to us.

The adventure sport, which made its first and only appearance at the 2011 Games in Indonesia, saw athletes compete in different aspects such as landing accurately and racing to an end point. While it isn’t difficult to master, it does require a whole lot of guts and accuracy.

Photo: EPA/SANJAY BAID

Shuttlecock Kicking
Shuttlecock Kicking
02 Jun 2015

Shuttlecock Kicking

Last seen at the Games: 2009

Yes, apparently capteh, as it is better known in Singapore, is a sport. The shuttlecock version of sepak takraw, it was first introduced to the Games by the Vietnamese in 2003, much to the chagrin of other nations.

While the inclusion of traditional sports is usually frowned upon, we should cut Vietnam some slack. After all, this game is popular in many Asian countries, easily accessible and best of all, easy to pick up. Even Prince William did pretty well when he gave it a go during his Singapore visit in 2012.

Vovinam
Vovinam
02 Jun 2015

Vovinam

Last seen at the Games: 2013

Vovinam is a Vietnamese martial art that is practiced with or without weapons. Like Taekwondo, there’s a lot of emphasis on leg grappling techniques. One of its most recognisable of techniques is the high flying scissor kick which a practitioner uses to grasp - sometimes as high as the neck and face - and take down his opponent. Ouch!

Bridge
Bridge
02 Jun 2015

Bridge

Last seen at the Games: 2011

If the first thing that came to mind was “is bridge even a sport?” well that makes two of us.

In 2011, host Indonesia introduced the card game to the SEA Games and needless to say, they were the big winners in the sport, walking away with eight medals, including four gold.

But we’re not complaining, after all, Singapore picked up nine medals - a gold, five silver and three bronze - as well as bragging rights for 76-year-old Ng Lai Chun who became the oldest medalist at the Games. Pity it will not be included in this year’s Games.

Photo: TPG

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