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World Games,
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Badminton Competition
Story and audio by Douglas Armstrong
Photography by Peter Ottlakan

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Team Australia member
Lorraine Pearce describes her "hat trick of gold"

Badminton equipment consists of a long-handled loosely strung racquet and shuttlecock or "birdie". These cone-shaped birdies are made from feathers with a weighted rubber nose. The game is played on a rectangular court divided by a net. Players attempt to hit the birdie over the net in such a way as to prevent the opponent from returning the birdie over the net. The game is a mixture of table tennis finesse with the speed of tennis. The perfect combination of extremely fast reflexes, agile physical movement across the court, accurate eye-hand coordination and cunning strategy is required to succeed.
Vasas SportCentrum, nestled in the middle of a residential Buda neighborhood, was the site of the badminton competition. The sport hall that housed the competition was a large high ceilinged gymnasium. The bleacher seats were sharply banked affording everyone a "birds-eye view". The five courts, set side-by-side were a source of constant action. The twang of the rackets and flying feathers was evidence of the aggressive level of play. Players mixed long high volleys with lightening fast slams and kept their opponents on the move. The crowd of 200 fans and athletes enthusiastically observed and boisterously supported fellow teammates.


On a Dot on the Danube
Story by Robert Garypie
Photography by Robert Garypie, Gary Green and Eleanor Jones

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Interview with the men's gold winner of the minimarathon (5K) run,
Ian Bronigan of Great Britain

Margaret Island is a picturesque and scenic park that seems like a quiet refuge from the bustle of the city in Budapest. The big city that is divided into Buda and Pest by the slow moving Danube River sprawls in both directions from its many bridges. The Margit Hid (Hungarian for Margaret Bridge) has an exit midway across the River which leads down a ramp to the South end of Margaret Island. Within moments of departing the traffic congestion, big buildings and loud cars, one is overcome with the tranquility of the island. The big electronic sign outside the stadium kept toggling between 16 and 17 degrees celsius while the clouds teased the sun above. Perfectly calm and bright, the conditions were wonderful for this event.

The Track and Field Center is on the south end of the island where hundred of transplant recipients gathered this morning. Nearly a hundred runners, accompanied by many more onlookers and teammates waited nervously for the start of the races. The women's race was a 3K loop course on the island. Although the course didn't take the runners along the edge of the Danube, the course was well marked along "promenades" which are actually walking paths through the woods. With a bang and a cloud of smoke from the gun, the women were off. The start and finish lines were both on the red cushioned surface of the 400 meter track but the course led the runners around the island. Once the women finished, the men's 5K run began and followed a similar course. The loop course through the island didn't allow spectators to see the runners until they returned to the track for the finish. The roar of the moped leading the way alerted those of us in the stadium that the fastest finishers would be there soon. A video crew on a motorcycle was just ahead of the fastest finishers who were clearly giving their all. Cheers, chants and cries of joy rang out from the stadium as the finishers completed the course. Many of them were far behind the leaders and the cheers were just as loud for those near the end as they were for the fastest runners.

The awards ceremony was bathed in the late morning sun which sent gold, silver and bronze glints of reflection across the smiling faces of hundreds of people. Ian Bronigan of Northern Ireland and Agnes Jung of Hungary were the top finishers. Both of them echoed the sentiment of so many people here: everyone who is here is a winner!


Skittles: The Mystery Game
Story by Eleanor Jones
Photography by Douglas Armstrong and Eleanor Jones
Audio by
Douglas Armstrong

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I thought it was just me. That probably everyone else coming to the transplant games had been playing skittles for years; there were probably skittles leagues in countries all over the world, and that only us folks in the U.S. had never heard of it. So I went out on the Internet and downloaded the rules, and saw photographs of skittles sets. It appeared to be a game played on a table top, with five-inch tall pins which you try to knock down with a ball that's suspended by a string above the pins.

So far, so good. But that was the wrong kind of skittles.

We arrived at the Hotel Stadion skittles room and learned exactly how wrong I was. Skittles looks a lot like ten-pin bowling! -- but not exactly. It is played with a ball which does not have holes for your fingers, and has a diameter of about seven inches and is much lighter than a ten-pin bowling ball. You bowl it towards pins that are at the end of a lane that has no gutters, just a border that's wired to sense if your ball touches it, so a point can be deducted from your score. The player gets five practice tries, then ten attempts with a full set of pins each time (the goal being to knock down as many pins as possible), then ten attempts during which the pins are not reset (so you have ten tries to knock down all nine pins)

Interesting! I wondered how many other attendees of the Games were unfamiliar with skittles, and what they thought of this game.

The Australians told me they'd never seen it before, and that they were expecting the pins to be closer - maybe 10 meters away, possibly similar to bocce. One of the Aussies playing skittles for the first time told me "I'm going to go back home to Australia and tell them that ten-pin bowling is a baby's game, and skittles is an art form!"
Skittles was also completely new to all fifteen of the Thai athletes playing skittles today. They didn't know the rules, but had fun anyway, having already been familiar with bowling. One from Thailand said it was difficult to control the ball - you can't really put a spin on it, and if your hand is small, you have to use two hands in order to get up enough force.
I asked the Uruguayans if they'd ever played skittles before, and the answer was "No, never," although they do play ten-pin bowling. They wished that they could have separate competitions for those who've never seen skittles before. One of the women who found it especially difficult because she has small hands (therefore having to use both) was unfortunately playing against two Hungarian women, for whom this is not a new activity. All the same, they enjoyed playing.
The French, too, had never seen skittles before, and found it "difficile." One of their number, playing for the first time, scored an amazing 127 points!
A South African team member confirmed that skittles are unheard of in his country. Reading the registration materials, skittles appeared to be similar to ten-pin bowling, but not that similar. The goal was to watch others as long as possible in order to learn prior to competing.

The Irish contingent, kidney recipient Maxie Scully, had played skittles once before, when the Transplant Games were in Budapest several years ago, but of course wasn't very familiar with it.

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Maxie Scully (photo at right),
talks about his transplant experience and says
"Don't take your organs to heaven;
heaven knows we need them here!"

Hats off to all these athletes for being game to try something new; to play regardless of their unfamiliarity with the game, all in the true spirit of sport!
XII World Transplant Games webcast front page Photo Gallery About the World Transplant Games Sponsors of the Webcast XII World Transplant Games webcast front page Sponsors of the Webcast Behind the Scenes Contact the Webcast Team Press Information Photo Gallery

Last modified: 11 May 2000