A new sporting fixture was added to the calendar of world sports events this week - the Balloon World Cup. The "sport" of keepy-uppy ballooning is probably a familiar one. We have all, at one time or another, partaken in the decades-old pastime of keeping a balloon up in the air without letting it touch the floor. Spanish soccer legend and Barcelona star Gerard Pique loved this sport so much he decided to develop it into an international event. The inaugural Balloon World Cup was held in Tarragona, Spain, on Thursday. Peru's Francesco de la Cruz was crowned as the very first world champion. His athleticism and deftness saw him fend off a challenge from Germany's Jan Spiess in the final with a 6-2 victory.
Gerard Pique got his inspiration for establishing the annual tournament from videos that went viral on the social media site TikTok. He loved watching clips of the Arrendondo family from the USA playing the game during the COVID-19 lockdown. It developed from the family's living room into a "Keep-Up Balloon League". Pique then intervened and made the game global. The World Cup contests took place on an 8m x 8m court, which contained living room furniture as obstacles. Teams from 32 countries participated. Pique said: "It's been amazing. It's something totally different. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and try new things." There are hopes it could become an Olympics event.