‘Rural Olympics’ attracts stuntmen, performers from across India

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KILA RAIPUR, PUNJAB, INDIA (REUTERS) - Men dragging cars with their hair, a hundred-metre dash for those over 65 and, of course, a tractor wheel pushing race.

These were just some of the events in the annual rural Olympics in India's northern Punjab state, where thousands of people from across the country gathered on Saturday (Feb 3) to compete in some conventional and not-so conventional pursuits.

There was everything from traditional Sikh Gatka martial arts to dog racing to a man spinning with a bicycle suspended from his teeth.

One of the participants, Gurmail Singh, showed off his unique talents by doing a handstand on a glass bottle.

"I'm disabled but I do this bottle act despite my disability to make some money. I don't have any other means of earning. I've been performing at festivals like this since I was a child," said Mr Singh.

But he had a lot of competition in the originality department, from people such as a man using his teeth to lift bricks, and another using his head to lift weights.

The sports festival has been running since 1933 and once only attracted a local audience. But now Indians come from around the country to get a window into rural life and culture.

The games go on for three full days - and include familiar sports like hockey and athletics - but it wouldn't be a countryside event without... tractor racing.

The event's organisers say they want to keep Punjabi traditions and culture alive and get youngsters in touch with their roots.

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