OBSCURE SPORTS: THE GAME OF SCANDINAVIAN GODS!
Sports like footraces, wrestling, and the pentathlon have always been known to have originated from ancient Greece, the home of the Olympics. These sports were performed by athletes in honour of their Greek gods and now, are forever sealed into modern-day Olympics. In the same vein, the rise of a new sport like orienteering, native to Sweden, might suggest that the sport might have been created in honour of gods like Odin, and Loki and the rest. However, this claim is not true.
Orienteering is a type of outdoor competition, requiring navigational skills to navigate through unfamiliar terrains while moving at speed. The history of orienteering dates back to 1886, when the Swedish Military Academy, Karlberg, resulted to drilling their military officers by letting them go through wild terrain, with nothing but compasses and maps. But the first civilian orienteering competition, openly contested by the public, was held in Norway.
Competitors in this sport are called orienteers. Orienteers follow a course that leads through a forest or other natural area. Using maps and compasses, orienteers find checkpoints, marked by coloured flags, along the course. At each point, they punch a card. The shortest route between points is often not the fastest. When they finish, orienteers return to a timer’s table, where their time durations and the number of points reached during runs are recorded. The winner is the person who finishes fastest than anyone else and reached all checkpoints.
The “pros” of this sport: competitors require little or no training, the sport has no specific clothing gear – clothes are worn by competitors to suit the terrain – , and no competitor has a head start over others – the maps and the compasses are handed over the competitors only just before the start.
In recent years, the increased popularity of orienteering has now caused it to be diversified from the classic foot orienteering (footO). The various new forms include mountain bike orienteering (MTBO), ski orienteering (skiO), trail orienteering (trailO), and even street orienteering, popularly known as urban orienteering.
Since 1996, efforts have been made to make orienteering an Olympic sport. The problems to this move: the sport is neither television- nor spectator-friendly (that is, not every part of it can be captured live on camera for viewers watching all around the globe), the venues are usually remote areas far from large cities, and the duration of the event is longer than most of the other Olympic individual events. (The time taken depends almost entirely on the competitors’ skills.) Despite these setbacks, orienteering has been included in the World Games and is rapidly gaining ground in the rest of Europe and Asia.
Orienteering is a sport that requires good navigation skills, as well as running and endurance skills, depending on the length of the course. It surely is one fun way of enjoying sports and learning these new skills
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