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Gumboots fly in Finland

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

We'd like to be in Vasteras, Sweden, today (July 1). We'd be watching the World Gumboot-Throwing Championships.

Lena from Sweden told us about them in this email:

Hello, I'm quite sure that you got this already - but if not:

In the posting about the egg throwers, you mentioned the gumboot throwing in Taihape [New Zealand].

Well... The World Championship in gumboot throwing this year takes place in Sweden, Vasteras, 1-2 July 2006. The sport started in Finland many years ago, and has spread throughout the world - most throwers are found in Finland, Russia, Estonia, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

Jouni Viljanen of Finland has the world record for men, with 64 meters and 35 centimeters. Recordholder amongst ladies is Eeva Isokorpi, Finland, with 43 meters 27 centimeters, thrown during WC games 2005.

In Sweden this sport is so popular that people have invented funny throws (between your legs and over your back and neck), thus injuring themselves - to the extent that doctors have issued warnings about gumboot throwing...

My english is not that good, but I hope you get the idea. And thanks a lot for your e-book, always great reading!

Cheers! - Lena, Sweden

And cheers to you, Lena, for telling us about this exciting sport. It's called Wellie-tossing in the UK, since the Brits have dubbed gumboots Wellington boots, ever since the Duke of Wellington's Allied army gave Napoleon the boot in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The duke often wore gumboots, and his fame made them fashionable. We don't know how much he charged the bootmakers to endorse their product.

Thanks to Lena, we found an interesting Finnish website called Boot-Thrower's House, the official website of gumboot throwers world-wide, which has photos and details (in English and Suomeksi) of this weird pastime. The home page says:

World Cup 2006 will start in Hatsina, Russia, on the 6th May. There will be competitions in five countries: Germany, Russia, Estonia, Sweden and Finland.

In the World Cup there are series for men, women, seniors and teams (men and women). Your seven best competitions are counted to the final points.

Maybe you will be the next champion who is standing on the podium and get the precious CUP.

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Story first posted July 2006

Copyright 2006

Eric Shackle

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