You may be a fan of the Olympics and simply not have got your mitts on tickets, or perhaps you can’t even stand the thought of the eleven billion pound event and want to get as far away from it as possible. If you’re looking to attend something that is not the London Olympics – but still has plenty of sporting action – there are a number of other, more unusual sporting events taking place in the UK this year, where you can guarantee there won’t be half as many people and you might actually be able to get tickets!
The BMX World Championships Series 2012 (http://www.bmxworldchamps.co.uk) takes place between 24th and 27th May at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham and is a great event for those looking for some exciting sporting action on two wheels. Competitors come from all over the world to race their BMX bikes and it’s a far cry from watching the local kids trying to do wheelies in the park as these guys are the professionals. More than 2,000 competitors from 40 countries from around the world compete for the coveted championship and the event is the biggest annual prize in the sport. Tickets to the different days vary in price, but are generally around £21-25 for adults for a day.
The World Bog Snorkelling Championships (http://www.bogsnorkelling.co.uk) are held each year in the town of Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Mid Wales and if you’re looking for an unusual sporting event then this certainly fits the bill. Competitors kitted out in flippers and wetsuits have to do two lengths of a 55-metre peat bog in the fastest time possible without using conventional swimming methods. The Championships have been going since 2004 and have developed to include a Bog Triathlon – a 7.5 mile run and a 19 mile mountain cycle in addition to the boggy swimming – which this year will be run as part of the World Alternative Games. There’s no charge to watch the bog snorkelling but you might want to invest in a good waterproof.
The Canoe Slalom World Cup 2012 (http://www.canoeslalom.co.uk) takes place from 8th – 10th June in Cardiff and is another unusual sporting event, without an athletics track in site. The course is based around a 300 metre rapid, down which canoe enthusiasts from all across the world hurl themselves trying to achieve the fastest time. The course is dotted with obstacles and there are 25 gates for the competitors to make it through, as well as having to contend with the local tides, so this kind of competition is not for the faint hearted (but makes great entertainment). Tickets for the event are £9.50 in advance and £13 on the day for adults and £7 and £10 for concessions.
The European Taekwondo Championships (http://www.etutaekwondo.org) are due to take place on 3rd – 6th May in Manchester with more than 40 national teams competing to win the coveted title of champions for this exciting South Korean martial art. If sport for you is all about contact, then these championships have plenty to offer – you might even be able to pick up some moves. Tickets for spectators at the Manchester Regional Arena cost £11 per day for adults and £6 for children.
Cheese rolling (http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk) might not sound quite as glamorous as winning the 100 metres but it’s an event that has become as ingrained in UK culture as fish and chips. The rolling takes place this year on the 4th June on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire and is organised and funded by local ‘unnamed enthusiasts.’ Cheese rolling begins when a large, round cheese is sent rolling down Cooper’s hill and is then chased by competitors – first to the bottom wins the cheese. Much tastier than a gold medal! (Main photo shows the 2006 event, taken by Mike Warren)
Whilst all the hype this summer is focused firmly on the London Olympics, there are other unusual UK sporting events out there that promise just as much entertainment and much less organisational hassle. Book in for one of these alternative events and you’ll have far better stories to tell.