Traditional Chinese Sport: Camel Racing
Camels, enjoying the title “boat of desert”, have their special place in the economic life and military affairs of the ancient Mongolias.The herdsmen on the pasture who lived on herding camels respect them as the “king of all the animals”.
Camel racing appears when they are tamed as transportation tool.Whenever there are happy occasions or festivals,the Mongolian herdsmen living on the pasture or the desert or Gobi will have camel racing.So it is a traditional sport game of the Mongolian like horse racing.It is also one of the Mongoiians’ traditional competitive games and popular in Alashan in the west Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The racer should make good preparation first.He should train his camel half-month earlier before the competition and offers less water to the camel,nutrient food with abundant protein till the competition.Training the camel is very important because it influences the speed and health.If not trained earlier,it will lose hair and fall ill after the competition.
Camel racing embraces running and shooting.Before the competition,a fire is lit up on a mound.The master of camel burns the incense to the fire leading.
The camel and then go round the intense three circles in the direction of the movement of the sun in order to pray for luck and contentment.And in certain racing areas a hada a white silk cloth is put around the neck of the camel.
In competition all the racers stand in a line on the starting line on camelback. With the order of the judge,the racers speed up with whips lashing on the camels.
The distance of race is 3 kilometers in average.The one who reaches the final first wins.In some competition a target is set on the way of the race and a shooting competition is carried out.
The result is decided according to the hits of the target. If there are children in the race and 2 year old camels are chosen.
After arriving at the final point,the candidates will run around the fire three circles to calm the camels according to the order of the arrival.To run around the fire means to respell and appreciate the blessings of the fire god. Then they offer liquor to the fire and prayers to the camels from the first to reach the final.
In recent years,the camel racing is standardized according to the modern sport competitive methods and means,which stresses on competition and skills.And the more attractive ground racing,group racing and relay racing are adopted.
In 1985 the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region decides it as the official competitive game in “Nadam Fair”.