Goat polo, stick-wrestling, bone-throwing at nomad Olympics

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Moscow (AP) — Olympic Games, stand aside: the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan recently hosted the World Nomad Games, a competition where polo players ditched their mallets and tried to catch a dead goat instead.

Participants hold golden eagles for an eagle hunt during the second World Nomad Games at Issyk Kul lake in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)
Participants hold golden eagles for an eagle hunt during the second World Nomad Games at Issyk Kul lake in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)

The Games, which opened on a picturesque mountain plain in eastern Kyrgyzstan, brought together athletes from 40 countries including Russia and the United States where nomadic traditions are strong.

The World Nomad Games features such unorthodox sports disciplines as eagle-hunting and bone-throwing.  Arguably the highlight of the most recent games was the horse-riding competition, called Kok-boru, which dates back to when men used to hunt wolves that preyed on their livestock.  Fierce competition also took place in “stick wrestling,” an event in which two competitors try to gain control of a small stick.

Among the spectators was American action-movie actor Steven Seagal, who claims part-Mongol ancestry.

“I was lucky to visit friends, who gave me, as a special guest, the head of a ram to try, and then I was able to try horse that was cooked for me.  It’s fantastic,” Seagal was quoted as saying by the state news agency Kabar.  “This is what I eat and what I like.”

Barbara Ornelas, of the Native American Navajo tribe, said she sees a connection between nomadic peoples.

“There is only one difference between the people of Kyrgyzstan and my people — it is the language,” she said, according to Kabar.