300 mud-lovers gathered in Essex for the annual Maldon Mud Race featuring batman, spiderman, Where's Wally? and more! The superheros were watched by 15,000 spectators.
In a world that has seen sport and technology become increasingly intertwined, a new sport has emerged that goes against the grain – taking competitors back to basics.
After several years of growth, ‘street workout’ hit Dubai’s sun-drenched South Ridge Park last Saturday as 22 athletes from 12 countries assembled to compete in the sport’s first World Cup qualifiers in the Middle East.
Street workout is a sport in which athletes support their own bodyweight with a series of complicated lifts and movements, known in more technical circles as calisthenics. These malleable men and women have developed new types of lifts and contort their bodies into positions that seem to defy gravity.
No analytical tools, no special equipment and certainly no apps – just supremely talented individuals, an impressive sound-system and a large blue frame on which athletes perform routines, usually to techno music.
This form of exercise has swiftly grown in popularity in recent years and in 2011, the World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation (WSWCF) was established. Formal rules were introduced in order to create a competitive element to the sport, which is as enjoyable for spectators as it is competitiors, while an annual World Cup was created.
There is no question how serious the athletes are about this new sport. Roughly half of the field at the 2015 World Cup travelled to Dubai from GCC countries, but the rest made the pilgrimage from as far afield as USA, Ukraine and Chile to test themselves against the best.
A highly competitive day’s action in Dubai was also great entertainment for the crowds, as athletes with finely-tuned routines put on a show of mesmerising flips, twists and ‘statics’ – where breath-taking core strength is used to hold the body parallel from the ground.
On the surface, the sport seems to share many similarities with gymnastics, but WSWCF founder Maris Slezins insists it is a more spectator-friendly offering.
“Street workout is all about interaction, creativity and freestyle,” the bulky Latvian tells Sport360. “Therefore you can be a big guy who specializes in holds, a guy with great rhythm who has a more interactive, dance element to their performance or even a smaller guy with great speed and agility. They are not focused only on their routine, but on providing the crowd with some fun.”
Each competitor is given the stage for two rounds of two minutes and is judged by a panel of four experts in four categories: statics, dynamic moves, combinations and style. The latter is designed to incorporate the crowd into the event and in order to get top marks here, athletes must interact with spectators – something achieved through high-fives, dancing, posing and encouraging synchronised clapping and cheering.
Over the course of the day, athletes of varying shapes and sizes prioritised the four categories in a bid to be crowned Dubai champion, with Chilean Miguel Mayorga eventually taking the crown. However Slezins is keen to point out that his sport is about more than winning trophies – highlighting the appeal of the sort of health benefits that have helped make cross-fit a multi-billion dollar industry.
“Street workout gets rid of negative emotions and channels positivity,” he explains. “Love it, enjoy it, stay motivated and achieve your goals by believing in your dreams.”
Dubai’s version of the event is just one of the 22 qualifying stages around the globe. The top athlete from each stage proceeds to the grand final in Moscow in December to compete for the title of street workout world champion.
Whether Slezins' dream of the sport being part of the 2032 Olympics becomes a reality or not remains to be seen but, judging by its soaring popularity, street workout is certainly here to stay.
We look at the sporting events lighting up the UAE over the next seven days including the Icons Cup golf, Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships and the World Football Fives Championships.
ABU DHABI WORLD PROFESSIONAL JIU-JITSU CHAMPIONSHIP
Monday, April 20 – Saturday, April 25
Now in its seventh year, the championship welcomes an internationally diverse line up of male and female athletes from more than 100 different countries – all battling for the prestigious titles and the big prize of over AED 2 million.
Venue: IPIC Arena, Abu Dhabi
Website: UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation
Wednesday, April 22 – Friday, April 24
The Icons Cup brings together some of sport’s biggest stars for an unforgettable Ryder Cup-style golf competition. It is Team USA against the Rest of the World; major winners Fred Couples and Darren Clarke take up the captains’ positions and welcome a host of sporting stars including Gabriel Batistuta, Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Oscar de la Hoya. Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club is the best place to do some star gazing this week!
— Golf Digest ME (@GolfDigestME) April 16, 2015
Venue: Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
Website: Icons Cup
AL GHARBIA WATERSPORTS FESTIVAL
Thursday, April 23 – Friday, April 24
The seventh edition of the festival features competitions in saililng, kite surfing, kayak racing, dhow racing, parachute sailing, swimming, beach volleyball and many more! There are lots of prizes up for grabs, with a total prize fund of AED 4 million. In addition, there will also be children’s activities and heritage performances on offer.
Venue: Mirfa, Al Gharbia, Abu Dhabi
Website: Abu Dhabi Events
THE WORLD FOOTBALL FIVES CHAMPIONSHIPS
Thursday, April 23 – Saturday, April 25
The best amateur 5-a-side teams from 48 countries will travel to Dubai for the second time to represent their country and compete to become the Football Fives World Champions 2015. The tournament will be attended by some of the top scouts in world football, creating the opportunity for a star to be found!
Venue: Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina
DESERT WARRIOR CHALLENGE
Friday, April 24
Desert Warrior Challenge brings you fun and challenging obstacle courses, designed to test physical strength, mental toughness, team-work and overall fitness. Fight your way though the calf-cramping sand obstacles and then cool off with the all new ‘Marine madness’ section of the course.
Venue: Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
Website: Desert Warrior Challenge
NATIONAL SWIMMING WINTER TOURNAMENT – 50m
Friday, April 24-25 & Saturday, May 2-3
The National Winter Tournament is open for all ages, where swimmers will get the chance to compete in the 50 metre race. Local and expatriate swimmers from different clubs are welcome to join in this fierce competition, which will be held at the Hamdan Sport Complex, the largest Aquatic Sports Centre in the world.
Venue: Hamdan Sports Complex, Dubai
Website: UAE Swimming Federation
DUBAI DESERT ROAD RUN
Saturday, April 25
The Dubai Desert Road Run is a sport event that allows you to follow your progress throughout the year and socialize with fellow runners. Races include a 10km run for adults and those above 14 years old, a 3km junior run, ages 6 to 18, and a 3km fun run, which is untimed.
Venue: The Sevens Stadium
Website: Dubai Desert Road Run
NATIONAL SCHOOL LEAGUE BASKETBALL
Saturday, April 25
Sport360’s inaugural UAE-wide school basketball league returns for Week 2 after a successful opening weekend in Sharjah. Matches will also take place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this weekend; could the new LeBron James be lurking in the UAE?