Athletic Sports are important in Colombia . The ”proof is in the pudding ” and this year the World Games came to Cali !
From July 25 to August 4, 2013, Cali, often called the “Sports Capital of the Americas”, hosted the 9th version of The World Games. The Opening Ceremonies occurred on July 25, the day that Cali celebrated its 477 birthday. All events took place in existing facilities as Cali has previously hosted the Pan American Games, the National Games and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup. This is the first time that the World Games have been hosted in South America.
All events took place in existing facilities as Cali has previously hosted the Pan American Games, the National Games and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup. This is the first time that the World Games have been hosted in South America.
Cali is the capital of the department/state of Valle del Cauca and is the third largest city in Colombia.
The International World Games Association was founded in 1981 as a non-governmental and non-profit-making international organization created under Swiss law. Since its founding meeting it has grown from 12 to 33 International Sports Federations. This year there are 32 official sports and 4 invitational sports. The categories of competition will be Artistic Sports, Ball Sports, Martial Arts, Trend Sports, Precision Sports, Strength Sports and the Invitational Sports.
The most popular sport in Colombia is Football. Although at an international level Colombia is not one of the leading footballs nations, football is the passion of almost all Colombians. Football was actually brought to Colombia by British railway engineers in the early 1900’s and by 1924 the Colombian Football Federation had been formed.
The next most popular sport is cycling. Imagine, in a country that most people still consider the third world, 10% of its roadways in the big cities on a Sunday morning are shut down to let the average citizen ride their bicycle, traffic free ! This event is called Ciclovia and is a popular Sunday activity. For a professional cyclist, Colombia has some of the steepest and longest climbs imaginable. One called, La Letra is 82 kms long with an elevation gain of 3300 m. In July of 2013, 23 year old Nario Quintana placed second in the 100th Tour de France. He was also named best youngest cyclist and ”King of the Mountains”. It was his win in the mountain category that helped propel him into second place.
When it comes to inline skating, Colombia dominates the world landscape. In 2012, in Italy, at the World Cup, the Colombians brought home 24 gold, 12 silver and 5 bronze metals. As a contrast, Italy in second place only took 5 gold. In 2015, the World Artistic Skating Competition (roller skating) will be held in Colombia.
Boxing was introduced by the Europeans in the late 19th century but didn’t become popular in Colombia until the 1960’s. It is mainly practiced in the Caribbean regions and the poorer areas in the west.
Baseball is also a favorite in Colombia. The Colombian Professional Baseball League or the Colombian Winter League, is a winter league that is played during the Major League Baseball off season. There are stadiums in Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, Cali, Bogota, Santa Marta and a few other smaller centers.
For the more active sports lover, Colombia offers almost unlimited scuba diving possibilities. With over 2,900 kms of coastline bounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Colombia is one of the wonders of the diving world. On the Caribbean you have Barranquilla, Capurgana and Sapzurro, Cartagena and the Rosario Islands, Gulf of Morrosquillo, Isla Fuerta, La Guajira, Providencia and Santa Catalina, San Andres. On the Pacific, there is Bahia Solano and El Valle, Gorgona Island, Malpelo, Nuqui.
River rafting in Colombia is a relatively new sport. With the natural watershed down the sides of this mountainous terrain, this is is perfect place to find white water rivers. Probably some of the most outstanding possibilities are: the Rio Negro (in the state of Cundinamarca); the Barragan River (in the state of Quindio); the Magdalena River near the municipality of San Agustin (state of Huila); and the Suarez, Chicamocha, and Fonce Rivers (in the state of Santander).
Colombia is becoming a desired destination for paragliding. Some of the best sites are close to Medellin (Matasanos), Bogota (Sopo and Guasca), Valle del Cauca (between Cali and Palmira) and Santander (Chicamocha Canyona) . Many of these locations are free of power lines ensuring a safer experience for the thrill seekers alike. For double flights in Colombia – two people – the experienced pilot must have been certified by the Colombian Federation of Airsports for at least 6 years.
Golf is somewhat of an exclusive sport as the cost excludes many Colombians. There are however over 50 challenging golf courses in Colombia. Some of them are considered to be among the best in Latin America. They have been designed by world renowned golfers such as Gary Player, Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus.
The most controversial ”sport” in Colombia is bullfighting. Of the five Latin American countries where this is popular, Colombia ranks second. Although there are records showing bullfighting bulls brought to Bogota in 1543, the sport did not begin to become popular until the overthrow of Spain in the early 1800’s and it reached its peak in the twentieth century. There are well over 60 permanent rings in Colombia, and although there is resistance mounting to the brutality, it still remains a popular ”sport”.
One of the advantage that Colombia offers to most sports is the exceptional weather. In cities like Medellin it is possible to golf, run, bike or partake in almost any outdoor sport that you enjoy, year round.