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Extreme Ironing

extremeironing

When we think of extreme sports, generally images of athletes jumping out of aircrafts or scaling the sides of steep cliffs. Rare is the occasion when we think of doing a household chore.

Extreme Ironing (EI) is an ‘extreme sport’ in which ‘athletes’ take ironing boards to extreme locations and iron items of clothing. Described on their website as the “latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt”.

Whilst it is greatly debated whether or not EI can be considered a real sport, it has gained quite a following worldwide. It is said to have originated in 1997 by Leicester resident Phil Shaw, the sport has spread around the world through social media and the spread of online videos. Whilst widely taken in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, Shaw has traveled around the world spreading the sport and recruiting new ‘ironists’.

The sport gained international attention after a documentary was broadcast on Channel 4 in Britain. Entitled “Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory”. It followed the British teams efforts in the 2002 Inaugural Extreme Ironing World Championships in Germany. This event judged the competitors abilities to iron in a range of different environments, with the event divided into three sections:

  • Urban – where a broken down car was used as the location
  • Water – A fast flowing river. Competitors used canoes, surfboards etc as aids.
  • Forest – ironing took place on hoists at the tops of trees.
  • Rocky – A rock-climbing wall was used.
  • Freestyle – ‘Anything goes’

The documentary also included the rivalry between the EIB (Extreme Ironing Bureau) and the group Urban Housework, which attempted to form other extreme sports involving vacuum cleaning.

Since it’s inception the sport of Extreme Ironing has gained much attention around the world. Ironers have been known to practice their skills in a wide range of locations – from the M1 motorway in the UK to whilst running a half marathon. It will continue to grow and cause heads to turn for some time yet.

 

 

Cheese Rolling

Competitors take part in the Cheese Rolling event on Coopers Hill in Gloucester

Whilst the concept of cheese rolling seems incredibly ridiculous and bizarre to anyone with a right mind, the people of Gloucester, in the Cotswolds region of England, see it as a grand tradition.

The annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake takes place on the late spring bank holiday (usually the last Monday in may) on the hill it is named after. It is a race where a roll of cheese is released down the hill, and the competitors chase after it, with the winner being the one who crosses the finish line first. Traditionally, the winner must cross with the cheese in hand, though because the cheese gets a 1 second head start, it may read speeds of up to seventy miles per hour, making this a difficult (and dangerous) aim.

The cheese itself is a local Double Gloucester weighing in between 7-9 pounds. It is generally manufactured in cylindrical blocks and rolled by a wooden casing and decorated with ribbons at the start of the race. The current supplier, cheese maker Diana Smart, has supplied the cheese since 1988.

The origins of the race are unknown, though there are two theories that have emerged over the years. The first is states that it evolved from the requirement to maintain grazing rights on the common. The other says that it originates from the custom of rolling objects down the hill, for example the practice of rolling bundles of burning brushwood down the hill to represent the New Year after winter. Related to this is the scattering of buns, pastries and sweets in a ceremony that encouraged the fruits of harvest.

Since the 15th century the cheese rolling has attracted a large number of men, women and children ready to compete for the title. The even grows in popularity every year, with people traveling from all around the world to watch and participate in the event. There have been a number of controversies regarding the event, especially with safety. Minor injuries are regular, with sprained ankles being the most common. Plus broken bones and concussions also being frequent. In 2003 a woman was video taped falling down the hill, though she only sustained minor injuries.

As weird and wacky as Cheese Rolling is, I hope it continues grow in prosper in the way it has. It brings so much joy to the people of Gloucester and the visitors. Whilst it is dangerous and holds a risk, it is tradition, and that should always aim to be upheld until it proves void.

 

Top 3: Fitness Apps

runnning iPhone fitness apps

There are so many factors you have to think about when starting a new training regime. Duration, intensity, playlist; they’re all important considerations. Luckily, being the 21st century, there’s an app for everything. Here’s our list of fitness apps to get you off your gooch and hitting gym.

1. FastFitness

Price: $1.99

FastFitness is an all-in-one fitness tracker. You can use it to record the sorts of exercise you’re doing and how often. Then it calculates the effectiveness of your regime by analysing weight gains and losses.

Another useful feature is it’s “workout” menu, which generates a custom workout according to your stats and your exercise goals. Also, a indispensable feature for newbies like me, for each exercise, the app has a step-by-step how-to (including diagrams), a list of benefits and recommended reps and sets.

 2. 10k Runner

 

 

I often look at joggers with a mixture of intense envy and disdain. Why’re they so motivated? Hod do they do it?

10k Runner aims to take you from being an absolute beginner to being able to run 10km straight, all just in two months. The training regime consists of exercising 30 mins a day, 3 days a week for 8 weeks. The app has a badge reward system, inbuilt playlists and an audio coach who tells you when to run and when to walk.

3. Zombies, Run!

On a more light-hearted note, Zombies, Run! turns your morning jog into a post-apocalyptic adventure. No need to watch Walking Dead, your run to the shops and back will be action-packed enough.

The game is co-created by award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman and includes a campaign mode with 33 missions and over 45 runs worth of gameplay. On top of this, there’s the “Zombie Chase” mode, which is basically interval training but with a flesh-hungry horde at your heels.

Olympic Games

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The Olympic games, held every four years, is the leading sports event in the world and is a showcase of the outstanding talents presented by athletes from over 200 nations. Featuring a summer and winter games, it consists of a total of 35 sports, each with a number of disciplines and events.

Based on the ancient Olympic games that were held in Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, The modern Olympics were founded again in 1894 with the introduction of the International Olympic Committee. The first games of the modern era were held in Athens in 1896.

The 1896 games were a comparatively modern affair when considering the heights of the current game. With only 14 nations competing, there were a total of 241 athletes at these games. The following games were held in Paris in 1900 and since then, the competition has moved to all corners of the globe.

Whilst being the pinnacle of sporting prowess in the world, the Olympic games have become a symbol of traditionalism and spirit in the field of sport. With the host city for each games announced seven years before the tournament, the games are more than just a month long competition. With an exceptional amount of planning and development required for the games, the host city becomes truly involved in the games for at least an eight year period, and leaves a lasting legacy on the Olympics for years to come.

Each Olympic games commences with an Opening ceremony, which is generally a presentation of the host countries culture and spirit. It is followed by the athlete’s parade where the athletes, grouped in their nations, enter the stadium. Traditionally, Greece enters first and the host nation enters the stadium last. The remaining nations enter in alphabetical order.

The Closing Ceremony, taking place after all the events have been completed, is a celebration of the games. Considered to be the ‘after party’, it usually features a range of musical artists from the host nation. The athletes again parade into the stadium, though this time with no national distinction. The passing of the Olympic flag from the host city to the mayor of the next host is coupled with the ceremonial extinguishing of the Olympic flame to officially end the Olympic games.

The Olympic games will continue to grow in the following years. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is set to hold the next summer games in 2016 and Sochi, Russia to hold the next winter games. The constantly changing nature of the games and the spirit and inspiration it induces will keep us infatuated for years to come.

Ice Hockey

icehockey

The game of ice hockey as it is now known can be dated back to the nineteenth century in Canada as an adaptation of many stick and ball games played in icy conditions. It is a variation of field hockey, with the premise of using sticks to guild a puck (or ball, in field hockey) into the opposing teams goal. It is played on ice with players using ice skates. This makes the game incredibly fast and also highly dangerous. There are six players on each team, five skaters and a goaltender. The sport is highly popular in the US and Canada, where the game is merely called “Hockey”.

The basic rules of hockey are similar throughout the world, however different competitions may add or modify little particulars to their taste. Examples of this include the rule of ‘icing’ that has a number of variations around the world and alterations in the timings of the game.

The game of course is known for it’s rather violent nature, with fights breaking out regularly during games. Whilst in recent years this has reduced, it is still prominent in some cases.

Ice Hockey Leagues

Whilst there are a number of different leagues around the world – including the UK, Scandinavia and right here in Australia – the largest and most popular by far is the National Hockey League (NHL) based in North America. The league, comprising of 30 teams, currently seven from Canada and 23 from the USA, runs from October through to December. The winner of the playoff series wins the coveted Stanley Cup. The league has gained a huge following around the world, one which has been assisted by teams such as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Now the Anaheim Ducks) being prominent members of popular culture.

Ice Hockey Internationally

Internationally, ice hockey also has a huge following. It is governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) who runs the annual IIHF World Championships. This competition, whilst having a number of divisions incorporating teams from all around the world, has been dominated since its inception in 1920 by seven teams – Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA. The other most important competition in the calendar is the Winter Olympics, which of course is held every four years.

The sport, whilst being huge in the particular countries, lacks a real following internationally. It is dominant in winter countries as expected, but due to wider resources and particular fundings the sport has travelled world wide. Examples of this is the league in Australia which is always growing.

English Premier League around the World

EPL

The English Premier League (EPL) is arguably the biggest football competition in the world. With the games being televised to over 600 million viewers in more than 200 countries world wide, it is easy to see why it’s gained such a following. Australia is no exception to this, with hundreds staying up to horrific hours of the morning to support their favourite teams.

English Premier League in Australia

Not surprisingly, the teams that get the greatest following in Australia are the most famous and successful ones. This is a trend that follows the world, and Australia is no exception. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool gain the greatest following as they are branded as the ‘Big 4’, with teams like Tottenham and Everton commanding the next block of fans. Manchester City has also gained resurgence in recent years after their success following the takeover from the Abu Dhabi United Group.

The following of the Premier League in Australia (and in most parts of the Asian continent) shows it’s great commercial value. Everywhere you go you will see team kits with EPL colours, and not only will you see them, they will be recognized – even by non-followers.

This level of recognition all over the world has a monumental impact on the game from a number of different aspects. The demand for quality is incredibly high, seen clearly by the uproar when EPL teams fail in international competitions such as the European Champions League. Other ways in which the league’s massive following affects the game is through the financial and marketing aspects. Each premier league kit is covered in branding and advertising material, and as each kit is sold, companies that are originally only based in the UK instantly become international companies. There are instances where overseas fans know and recognize brand names, but don’t understand what exactly the company does!

It’s clear that the expansion of the EPL has been hugely successful and has set the standard for all other competitions in the world. The English Premier League in Australia in particular has developed a somewhat cult following for the league, one I’m sure has only space to grow.