The World Games 2013 in Cali are over with a lot of memories in the head for this quite exotic experience!
First, let’s present what are the World Games: It’s a kind of ‘Olympic games’ for non-olympic sports and it’s held every 4 years. We can find there some various sports sometime strange and often unknown as orienteering, sumo, boules, tug of war, paragliding, kayak-polo, korfball, lifesaving, speed roller-skating… But also some ‘artistic sports’ such as dances or different kind of gymnastics, or little some more famous sport like rugby (7), squash, climbing…
If you like statistics: There were 26 official and five invitational sports, more than 3000 athletes and 1500 officials from 101 nations around the world. Only some 4500 volunteers and almost the same number of policemen were mobilized to take care of the events and the participants. Finally, during the 10 days of competitions, they registered more than 500 000 visitors. Finally, we can say that we were very well welcomed!
The atmosphere during the events was enormous and amazing. It was really great to see other sports that we are not especially use to watch or that we didn’t even know before; enriching to meet other elite sportsmen with similar or different particularities on their sport practice; fun to experience the hot atmosphere of the Colombian enthusiastic supporters (especially if some Colombian athletes are in action). It was also very special to be like a real star as it was almost impossible to walk around without being photographed by Colombian fan! (Even if they had no idea who we were and which sport we practice, but maybe just because we represent a national team written on our short…)
But let’s talk about the orienteering competitions because don’t forget why we went there: 3 races were in the event program:
- sprint: 11th (+47’’)
The course was held in some building area and park of Cali and it was far from the trickiest course ever seen. The biggest challenge was physically to keep a fast speed in spite of the warm sun above the equator! I felt cooked and groggy from the very early controls of the race but I still tried to push hard and I still manage to take some bad route-choices (maybe to be sure that there were longer and to have some good GPS analysis… Or the Pythagorean Theorem has to be studied!)
- Middle distance: 8th (+2’02)
What was really interesting with this course and terrain was that we didn’t know what to expect before the race contrary to most of the main competitions nowadays, so it felt like real adventure or, at least, a feeling of the traditional orienteering. The heat didn’t decrease much from the previous day and it felt like another battle to push physically and we could also meet the rough thorny bamboo in the green forest which was nothing to compare to our nice bramble bushes present in European forest! I felt slow as a tractor the whole race but it was apparently the feeling of everybody under this heat and I also didn’t manage to avoid mistakes while falling asleep and loosing contact… What we should learn from this race is: never give-up (also technically!). With a horrible feeling and some avoidable mistakes, I finished some 24’’ from the second place. (But I got caught by the impressively strong M. Kyburz by 2’!) The French good performance of the day was done by L. Basset with his 5th place only 8’’ from the 2nd rank.
- Mix-relay: 4th
It was a 4-legs relay with 2 guys and 2 girls where I got the opportunity to run the 1st leg. All of the French team runners have done an OK (average) performance but we all came with all the controls in the right order that was the main point and it has not been the case of some other good teams on these courses with a lot of controls and short forking. That how, we finished on the foot of the podium, not far from the 3rd team, which was a fine result.
Finally, the French delegation has gotten the 3rd place of the medal ranking with 40 medals (16 gold) but unfortunately, we can’t say that we’ve really helped this result in orienteering…
As the orienteering events were in the last part of the program of the World Games, we had the great chance to take part in the thrilling closing ceremony in the Pascual Guerrero Stadium. Over there, with more than 25 000 extremely enthusiastic spectators, we could see some salsa show (normal in the Capital of Salsa) and listen the singing big star Carlos Vives before to see impressive fireworks.
To conclude, with all these amazing experiences: it’s definitely worth the trip!
Pictures: CNOSF/French Orienteering team runners/D. Hubman