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World Report

Finland Holds Annual Wife-Carrying Contest

Aired July 16, 2000 - 2:51 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ASIEH NAMDAR, CNN ANCHOR: And finally, we head to Finland for a contest where the wife always comes out on top.

DEBORAH DAUGHERTY, CNN ANCHOR: In a sport that we will not be seeing at this year's Olympic games, couples from eight different countries competed in what may be the world's most unusual sport.

NAMDAR: I would say so.

DAUGHERTY: Finland's YLE TV reports on the annual wife-carrying contest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKA MAKELAINEN, YLE (voice-over): The craziest summer sport in Finland, the purpose is to carry your wife through a track of some 250 meters without drowning or dropping the cargo. A true spectator sport, some 7,000 people have gathered in a small village for the occasion and millions more watch it on television around the world.

ANITTA BLOM, TOURISM MANAGER: It's totally crazy, it's international and it's loads of fun. And it's good sport, and it's maybe the good taste. You know, it's really fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty weird.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe we are a little crazy.

MAKELAINEN: Wife carrying was invented as a sport nine years ago, but it has origins in history.

BLOM: About hundred years ago, there in the village lived a guy, a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) called Drongeinen (ph). And he used to say to his troops, only men that were really strong. And then in those days it was also common that you -- they stole women from other villages.

MAKELAINEN: Nowadays, you can steal somebody else's wife -- for the competition only. Estonians have discovered that finding a lightweight woman is the key to success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could be less, sure, but what can I do? At 39 kilos, one other guy from Estonia has to carry 33 kilos.

MAKELAINEN: No wonder that Marco Lufur (ph), the guy with the tiniest woman, won the competition. The new world record was set at 55 seconds. But most participants and audience alike take the competition less seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I came here because for once I get to be on his back.

MAKELAINEN (on camera): Would you like to participate yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I get a big enough and strong enough man, then yes, why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe, but I'm too heavy for it.

MAKELAINEN: You think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe, but I have no strength enough. So I have to grow a little, and she has to lose a little bit of weight.

MAKELAINEN (voice-over): The male dominance could be a sensitive issue in a country boasting of gender equality. But the organizers know better.

BLOM: Think who is on the top there. It's always the wife.

MAKELAINEN (on camera): Should you have men carrying as well?

BLOM: No, that's not that interesting. This is more interesting.

MAKELAINEN: Wife carrying seems to be very difficult and indeed very different from any other sport. So maybe they should consider this for the Olympics.

Mika Makelainen, Finish Television, for CNN WORLD REPORT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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