Gravy wrestling. Image by World Alternative Games

4 Weird Alternatives to the London Olympics

by Colette Bernhardt Jul 6, 2012
From the “Fattylympics” to the “Austerity Games,” here are actual athletic events taking place this summer in and around London.

JUST IN CASE you’ve missed the fact that Nature Valley is London 2012’s “official supplier of cereal bars,” the snack manufacturer is currently offering “virtual hay-bale hurdling” sessions across Britain alongside the torch relay. Suddenly, formerly sedentary folk everywhere are high-jumping onto the Olympic bandwagon by hosting whacky physical events.

So, which are actually worth leaving the couch / TV for?

1. Fattylympics (7 July, West Ham, East London)

Not an attempt to devour the most cream cakes (though anyone wishing to won’t be discouraged), this satirical sports day will instead shove two fleshy fingers up at “the policing of bodies and the elitism which surrounds sport” via a surprisingly energetic programme of workshops, performances, and games.

Run by self-proclaimed “fat activists,” the event aims to “celebrate fat bodies in a public space” and promises a wobble-rousing anthem and opening ceremony, a Chub-Aerobics warmup, and a Rolling With Roland gala, in which guest of honour Erkan Mustafa (AKA cult BBC series Grange Hill‘s iconic porky pupil, Roland Browning) will lead a freestyle hill-rolling contest.

2. Chocolate Games 2012 (National final: September, Bournemouth)

Another one for those sent queasy by the thought of rigorous physical exertion and low-calorie regimes (or who think cereal bars are for wimps), the only teambuilding exercises in corporate-event company Chocolate Delight’s sugar-steeped tournament involve learning to make luxury chocolates — with which participants then play Truffle Table-Tennis, Extreme Pancake-Tossing, and Chocolate Tug-of-War.

An edible trophy — and the sweet smell of success — awaits the overall champions.

3. Austerity Games (23 July, Hackney Marshes, East London)

By contrast, trade-unionist campaigners Youth Fight For Jobs are holding an afternoon of anti-capitalist athletics close to the 2012 stadium. Harking back to London’s last Olympic hosting (in 1948, when contestants resided in RAF camps and brought their own, unsponsored towels), the group plans to “highlight the plight of young people in the shadow of these expensive and corporate Games” through banker-bashing contests, including Property High-Jump and Race to the Bottom.

The event is calling for “the fantastic facilities built for the Olympics, instead of being demolished or sold to the private sector, [to be] used to provide genuinely affordable housing and benefit local communities.”

4. World Alternative Games (17 Aug to 2 Sep, Llanwrtyd Wells)

Having denounced the real thing as “rather mundane,” the founders of this 17-day Olympics spinoff have come up with a relentless schedule of nearly 50 activities, from the gently bucolic Pooh Sticks Championships to the downright alarming Bog-Snorkelling Triathlon (for which at least one competitor has trained by “spending the months prior to the event flushing his head down the toilet”).

Held in the wilds of mid-Wales, highlights will include Stiletto-Racing (all genders welcome), Worm-Charming (the current record is for 567 in 30 minutes), Wife-Carrying (allegedly an ancient sport), and Gravy-Wrestling (don’t even ask).

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