The 2012 Cotswold Olimpicks and the World Shin Kicking Competition

Wednesday, June 02, 2010 10:26:00 AM
My souvenir programme
for the 400th anniversary
This year, in Gloucestershire, we have been looking forward to the 400th anniversary of  Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpicks, a much advertised precursor to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The official opening of the Cotswold Olimpick Games begins at 7.30 in the evening by someone taking the part of Robert Dover, who started the games back in 1612. He rides into the arena on a white horse, supposedly wearing some of King James 1 old clothes, accompanied by Endymion Porter and the Skuttlebrook Wake Queen and her attendants.  The games begins with a speech from Robert Dover followed by the firing of a cannon to awake the spirit of the Games.
Robert Dover with white feather in
his black hat.
The Cotswold Olympicks include team competitions such as Obstacle Races and Tugs of War as well as individual races such as Running, Throwing the Hammer, Putting the Shot, Jumping and Spurning the Barre.  But the most famous competition of all is Shin Kicking!  In earlier days it was very brutal. The contestants hardened their shins by hammering them and, it wasn't unknown for boots to have iron tips on them!  Nowadays it's permissible to push straw up your trouser legs to protect your shins a bit.

One of the shin kicking contestants in the
picture is celebrity sportsman Ben Fogle.
 Here, on the left, you see one of the many heats taking place.  The competitors hold one another by the shoulders. The object is to kick each other as hard as possible in the shins until one looses his balance and is brought to the ground.
At 9.30pm, as its getting dark, the final shin kicking competition takes place to find the World Shin Kicker 2012.

Here is a Youtube video, uploaded by SoGlos last year in 2011.

The torchlit procession into Chipping Campden
After the presentation of the awards - the finale; which is the lighting of a beacon and a brilliant display of fireworks. The last event of the night, and not to be missed, is leaving the games in a torchlit procession. You join the thousands of spectators carrying a flaming torch and walk from the hill down into Chipping Campden.  A Corp of Drums and a Pipe Band lead the way.  Its a wonderful sight and great to be part of this historic annual Cotswold event.

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