The Olympic Games are unique in that they draw attention to sports that we would not normally watch. While we are familiar with football, tennis, cycling, basketball and boxing through annual international events, we feel a renewed enthusiasm for less celebrated, but equally thrilling sports such as trampolining, table-tennis and weightlifting. Aside from the 26 on the official Olympic roster this year, the Games also remind us of other sports that require the same super-human dedication and skill from their practitioners.
"These stills shot by photographer Mel Bless in their respective training environments, demonstrate the strength, finesse and concentration that the physical activity demands"
In celebration of London 2012, and today, Great Britain's first gold medal courtesy of female rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, AnOther considers two other sports, wushu and climbing, and we meet two London-based enthusiasts Scott Pallett and Sophie Lewis. These stills, shot by photographer Mel Bles, in the athletes' training environments, demonstrate the strength, finesse and concentration that the physical activities demand.
Wushu is both an exhibition and a full-contact sport created in the People's Republic of China after 1949 in an attempt to nationalise the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts. It is composed of two disciplines: taolu (forms, comprising basic movements) and sanda (sparring). Born in the UK, Scott Pallett moved to China aged five and was enrolled at a specialist sports academy where he would practice intensively for five hours per day. Wushu is no longer recognised as an Olympic sport, yet Pallett continues to practice rigourously in the hope of becoming an Olympian in the near future.
Whereas wushu requires a weapon and a choreographed routine, climbing is a solitary, reactive practice. London-born Sophie Lewis also began her fascination with the sport in southern China, motivated by "its ability to make one feel terrified and euphoric at the same time". She has climbed cliff faces in various international locations, each time, performing gravity-defying movements with gymnastic-like ability.
Both sports will be considered for inclusion in the sports programme of the 2020 Olympiad, voted on by the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013.
Photography Mel Bles
Styling Agata Belcen
Hair Sofia Sjoo for Billy & Bo using Bumble & Bumble
Make-up Anne-Sophie Costa using Chanel A/W12 and Rouge Allure Renovation
Photographic assistants Olin Brannigan and Daniel Cuifo
Styling assistant Mhairi Graham
Retouching Dave Andrews at Phoenix bespoke London
Thanks to Daisy Woodward, Rachel Cooper
Scott wears tracksuit trousers by American Apparel
Sophie wears crop top and leggings by Work Out Life; crop top by Nike and her own spotted leggings