Excerpt from the book Sports the Olympics Forgot This book describes 40 sports that ought to be played but aren’t, because I made them up.

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In 1987 fruit were added into the festival beginning with apples, pears, and bananas. 50 Apples and 50 pears had to be sliced into four separate pieces and thirty bananas into at least six. For the fruit contests a timing element was introduced as the fruit were laid out on a table fifty yards long and the contestants were allowed to stop their horse if necessary, but not to dismount.

The record for slicing all the fruit into the correct number of segments is 2 minutes and 6 seconds by Lev Bushkin from Novgorod in 1998. Lev started out by trying to slice tomatoes but found this difficult : “For slicing tomatoes you need to strike quickly as they are very soft and I wasn’t quick enough and the tomatoes turned to mushiness rather than separate pieces – I became depressed and almost gave up the sport but then apples were introduced and I was saved as they are harder and suit my slicing style.”

There have been a few disqualifications and injuries over the years. In 1652 a particularly heavy-handed competitor embedded his sword in the table and was pulled off his mount scattering the remaining vegetables on the ground. In 1993 a French competitor, Rene Laveque, was disqualified when his horse started to eat the apples on the table before he’d had a chance to cut them.

Once the contest is over all the vegetables and fruit are used to provide a sumptuous meal for the citizens of Kazan – a way of thanking them for creating and preserving this most entertaining of horseback sports.