Australia’s Hemp Olympix
“Chibo went to the mountain, God gave him a couple of tabs—which he dropped on the way down—and he saw the vision.” According to modern-day organizer and commentator of the Hemp Olympix, S Sorrensen, this is how events for the Hemp Olympix were created. Held annually as part of Nimbin’s MardiGrass, Australia’s largest cannabis gathering, competitors descend on the small hinterland town from all corners of the globe to throw a bong or carry chook (chicken) shit around an obstacle course. Just as Chibo, the Olympix’s original creator, intended.
Along with his comedy partner Alan Glover, S Sorrensen has been the voice of the Hemp Olympix for 12 years. “We go around the world officiating at different Hemp Olympix, bringing people together in peace and harmony to see great achievements in sport.” Sorrensen does admit, however, that “the history is sort of fabricated, in the way that Lord of the Rings is.”
Chuck a Bong
“The event’s official name, as it has been since 1896—the first modern hemp Olympix—is ‘Bong Throw and Yell!’” explains S Sorrensen. “You have to yell at the same time as you throw. I have to hear you yell, you can’t just mutter something under your breath. And it can’t just be a grunt, it has to have a word in it. The most popular yell over the years has been ‘Free the weed!’” Competitors throw a bong in any manner they choose, with the aim being to throw it as far as possible. “This isn’t your normal bong, this is a sports bong. The stem is constructed from high-grade garden hose.”
The sport has its champion in the form of local man, Gary the Plumber. “His technique was just poetry in motion,” S Sorrensen fondly recalls. “He’s an unassuming kinda bloke, but with three steps, a slight swivel of the hips, perfect flick of the wrist, he threw close to 41 meters (134.5 feet). It’s still a record.”
The Growers Iron
Growing weed in the mountainous hinterlands that surround Nimbin is no easy task, and Chibo designed the Growers Iron event to showcase the fitness earned through cultivation. “The official Hemp Olympix guidelines and laws are specific about certain course requirements: You have to have the Lantana Tunnel of Fear and Loathing, the Hay Bale Slalom and the Hurdle Jump. You have to complete three rounds of the course: one carrying fertilizing chook shit, one with water and one freehand so you can get your stash and bring it back.”
The course makes and breaks champions. “A Japanese guy, Kateshi, a great competitor, he came down the hill and you could hear his knees pop,” S Sorrensen remembers. “He couldn’t carry the bag, he was pushing himself along the ground and pushing the bag. We all had tears in our eyes and applauded, because that’s the true spirit of the Hemp Olympix—such guts and determination.”
The Tug of Peace
And though cannabis remains illegal in Australia, the relationship between festivalgoers and the attending police has been restored through sport. “The Tug of Peace came along four years ago,” explains S Sorrensen. “Some years for MardiGrass we’ve had the riot squad turn up. The cops have to wander around in groups as a show of force, but the only thing separating us and the cops is a stupid law. The Tug of Peace was a great way to release some of the tension. Nimbin has its own policing force, a group of volunteers known as the POLITE squad. The Tug of Peace is contested between the police and POLITE. Just a few rules: the people on the POLITE side of the rope, they’re not allowed to smoke a joint while they’re pulling—no matter how stressful it got. And on the cops’ side, they’re not allowed to use their guns.”
Throughout the history of the Tug of Peace, the police are up 2-1 year to year, but the last tug saw the POLITE squad finally get on the scoreboard. “The last one, the cops put everything they had into it,” recalls S Sorrensen. “They even had their special grip boots on. But bare feet and toes curled up can grip into the slippery ground. Even though the cops lost, everyone shook hands after, and I thought, ‘This is what sports is really about.’”
Restoring the Sporting Balance
The sporting prowess on display at the Hemp Olympix is unique in that anyone can give it a go. Whatever your size or shape, good technique can result in the most unlikely persons standing atop the podium. “The big fellas have it easy in life,” muses S Sorrensen, “but it’s the little fellas who either become annoying cops or champion athletes, because they have a point to prove.” And Nimbin, being the accommodating town it is, has made room for both.