Friday, August 8, 2008

World Championships - What to expect

Dateline - July 30

There are only a few days until the International Racquetball Federation World Championships begin in Kingscourt, Ireland. It's the first time Worlds has been in Europe since 1988, when Hamburg hosted the event. How did Worlds come to be situated in Ireland?

Many people had wanted to have Worlds back in Europe for some time. Originally, the plan was to have the 2008 Worlds in Paris, but the details could not be worked out. This led to an Irish delegation stepping up and taking on the event.

Ireland may have the most racquetball courts in Europe, because handball, which uses the same size court, is in the Gaelic Games - along with sports like Gaelic football and hurling, which is one of the most brutal sports ever (and no, it's not the result of drinking too much Guinness). Thus, handball courts are protected, so that the traditional game can continue.

There are two sizes of handball courts - 60' x 30' and 40' x 20'. The former are more traditional, and the latter is the 'international' game - read: the size everyone else uses. It's those 'international' courts that racquetball is also played on.

So it is that the little town of Kingcourt, which at 800 inhabitants might be difficult to find on the map (it's about 95 kilometers or 57 miles northwest of Dublin), has a community facility with 5 racquetball/handball courts.

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