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Egg throwers scramble for world title

Egg all over face"Every four years, world athletics and swimming records are broken, but the egg-throwing record has survived for more than a quarter-century," we wrote in September 2004. "We'd like to see this bizarre sport included in future Olympic Games."

That hope may yet be achieved. The newly-formed World Egg Throwing Federation plans to hold a championship event for the global title in the tiny village of Swaton (population 184), in Lincolnshire (UK), on June 25.

"Egg throwers from all over the world have expressed interest," WETF founder and president Andy Dunlop told us by email. "I hope to have players from USA, Canada, Australia and China. I found your story 'Let's throw eggs at the Olympics' a source of inspiration when seeking ideas on how to get publicity for the Swaton show."

Modest prizes of "silver(ish) eggcups" will be awarded to the winners of these two events:

  • Egg throwing and catching.
  • Egg relay.

Here's an extract from the WETF website:

Egg throwing and catching

  • A successful toss is adjudged when the egg is moved between players without breakage.
  • A catcher may not move from his start position until the egg to be caught is in the air en route to that catcher.
  • Egg throwing and catching comprises of a two person team, the winner being the team who can throw and catch an egg over the greatest distance. The teams start off 10 metres apart.
  • After each throw each member will move one metre further away. The members alternate their throwing and catching roles after each throw.
  • A catcher may not move from his start position until the egg to be caught is in the air en route to that catcher.
  • Where more than one team is successful the players move back one metre each and repeat with the roles reversed until a winner is identified.
  • Where no team completes a successful toss at a distance then the throw is repeated, on a knock out basis until a team, or teams achieves success.
  • The team that manages a successful toss of the greatest distance is judged to be the winner.

Egg Relay

  • A team consists of 11 players.
  • Each player stands at a predetermined mark along a line 100 metres long.
  • Players may not move more than five metres from their mark.
  • Upon the start signal a packet of 12 eggs is passed, egg by egg, from player to player until the final team member has collected successfully all 12 eggs.
  • Eggs must travel individually.
  • Where a breakage occurs a three-second penalty is added to the time.
  • The competition is held in heats with a play off to decide the championship title.

The Swaton Show isn't exactly an Olympic event, but it's a step in the right direction. We hope to bring you a full account of the contest for the title of World Egg-Throwing Champion in our next edition.

  • The world record was established on November 12, 1978, in Jewett, Texas, when Johnie Dell Foley threw a fresh egg the almost incredible distance of 323ft 2in (98.51m) to his cousin, Keith Thomas, who caught it flawlessly. Many of the other catchers no doubt finished with egg on their faces.
 

EGG DROPPED 700FT WITHOUT BREAKING

The greatest height from which fresh eggs have been dropped to earth and remained intact is 213 m (700 ft). This was achieved by David Donoghue from a helicopter on August 22, 1994. David threw the eggs onto a golf course in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK. Getting the physics right is a vital part of the record. "You have to get the forward velocity equal to the downward velocity, then get the egg to land nearly perpendicular on a steep slope," says David.
- Guinness World Records

We asked Egg Harbor, Wisconsin (US) egg fight organiser George Bisbee (whose egg-spattered photo is shown above) whether his town would send its best eggthrowers to Swaton. He replied: "I had so many criticisms from a vocal minority here, as well as from the Department of Natural Resources, that I think egg throwing in Egg Harbor is a thing of the past."

Columnists and headline writers around the world have had a field day coining puns about the contest. Here are a few of them:

  • You're a good egg, Charlie Brown: Do you have sure hands? Do you believe that eggs were made for tossing in the air rather than being scrambled into oblivion? Then the NatWest World Egg-Throwing Championships might be for you. The event will be held on Sunday, June 25, in Swaton, England... If you miss it, the yolk's on you. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
    -- Pete McEntegart, in Sports Illustrated CNN (US).
     
  • Hey gamblers, here's an egg-cellent idea. Looking for a place to lay a bet?... Hey, what other sport can truly claim that its over-the-hill competitors are merely shells of their former selves?
    -- Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times (US).
     
  • Scrambled eggs. "Is it really a world-class event?" I ask. “It’s called the world egg throwing championships, seeing as how nobody else does it.” ...The organisers insist, improbably, that entrants have offered to take part from countries as far apart as Guatemala, South Korea, the US and Finland. They have invited John Prescott, a man with experience in egg-throwing, to present the prizes. Probably not. Then again, he’s daft enough...
    -- Martin Waller, The Times (London). [In 2001, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, punched a protester who threw an egg at him during a visit to Rhyl, North Wales.]

KIWIS THROW GUMBOOTS

Taihape is known as 'Gumboot Country' due to the annual Gumboot throwing festival held on 'Gumboot Day'. The aim of the festival is to break the world record for the longest gumboot throw. It is a real fun family event, which includes a number of other competitions like the best-dressed gumboot and ‘shoot the loop’ with gumboots. Make sure you wear your gumboots or you might be fined! Gumboots can also be tossed skyward on any day of the year in the official Gumboot throwing lane located in the 'Outback', just behind the main shopping centre.
-- Rangitikei Unspoilt

 

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Story first posted June 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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