World Nomad Games – Kyrgyzstan
By: Mike Jerrard
Move over Olympics, there are new games in town, or at least in Kyrgyzstan there is. The second official World Nomad Games was held in September this year which saw some 2,000 athletes competing, representing 40 countries.
The games showcase Central Asian ethnic sports which sees countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and of course Kyrgyzstan being the main contenders. Basically if your country ends in -stan you are assured of coming home with medals. There are of course other countries which compete including Russia, Mongolia, and even the U.S.A which managed to bring home some hardware.
Clockwise from left Girl with Eagle: Photo by David Baxendale, Traditional dress: Photo Courtesy CC, Yurts: Photo Courtesy cc.
The first Nomad Games was held in 2014 despite some opposition within Kyrgyzstan as many thought it was a waste of funds. The games proceeded however and the popularity only grew for this years return. The week long event held near Lake Issyk Kul looks to promote the survival of Central Asia cultures and traditions. Their historical nomadic lifestyle is the kind of sustainable lifestyle many nations are looking to achieve today.
You won’t find bobsledding, pole vaulting, or track in these games. The games here are as foreign as the lands on which they are played upon. It is this exotic nature of the games which makes them enticing and one can only assume the games will continue to gain momentum and a greater following.
The contestants and onlookers alike dress in traditional clothing and as talented as the athletes may be, it is the horses which are the main attraction and for which many of the games are centered around.
You will find sports such as:
Basically tug of war with a stick.
Er Enish Wrestling
Wrestling while mounted on a horse. The objective, to make your opponent no longer mounted on a horse.
No surprise a favorite of the UAE, not only are falcons used, but handlers also showcase large majestic golden eagles they have trained to hunt.
This one may be more familiar but think more like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. There are also performers showcasing trick archery shooting.
Kok Boru: Photo Courtesy of Journeys on quest.
Although controversial to many a westerner, Kok Boru is their version of Polo but instead of a ball, competitors try to score a lifeless decapitated goat into their opponents goal. It may seem barbaric and cruel but then again they may view what we do to livestock for food consumption as incredibly less ethical and they would probably be right.
The games are a bit like a medieval Renaissance festival except for the fact everything is authentic and rich with culture. Add in incredible scenery, friendly people, and beautiful animals and a visit to Kyrgyzstan is a must. Mark your calendars as the next World Nomad Games is due to return in September 2018.
Top Banner Photo/ Horses: Photo by bernd thaller.