Handstand Games – Moscow – 1

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.


There is a great tradition of athleticism in Russia particularly in relation to ballet and the circus. Young children are encouraged to take part in gymnastics from a very young age and doing handstands comes naturally to many youngsters. After the nearby Stockholm Olympics of 1912 a man called Dimitri Yashin had the bright idea of organizing a similar athletics event but for people who were standing on their hands.

Yashin’s original events were the 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres plus the long jump and the high jump. The first 100 metres was won by Alexander Tarimov in 19.2 seconds; he was the only athlete to cross the line without falling over in a heap. Athletes are not allowed to wear gloves during the running events though they can for the jumping. The Standing Judge shouts out an instruction “Stand To” and the runners then have 10 seconds to stand on their hands before the gun begins the race. The runners are in lanes and must not go out of them under any circumstances even in the 400 metres, where the judges follow the runners around the track and ensures no short cuts are taken.

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