Invitation to the Invitational

What annual Sumter sporting event has rated coverage from media outlets as diverse as the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Enquirer, NBC Sports, the Disney Channel and more? It’s Double Dutch, and it’s time for the 39th annual American Double Dutch League World Invitational, being held June 14-16, 2012 at the Sumter County Civic Center. Sumter has been home to the event for more than a decade, and each year, it grows more competitive and more exciting to watch.

The Sumter County Recreation Department is proud to host this event once again at the Sumter County Civic Center, 700 West Liberty Street. Thursday’s preliminary competition is a closed event, but will be followed by freestyle on Friday and Saturday, with more than 100 athletes from across the US and several foreign countries. The event begins at 9 a.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Admission is FREE to one of the most entertaining sports this side of the Olympics!

Just in case you don’t already know, Double Dutch is a game in which two long jump ropes turning in opposite directions (think of an eggbeater) are jumped by one or more players jumping simultaneously. It’s not nearly as easy as it may sound—the moves on some of these kids are amazing, and decades after it began on the streets of New York City, it’s now an international competitive sport. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has been seen getting into the act as part of her advocacy program for youth fitness. (It looks like fun, but I’m not going to try it—as a well-known klutz, I’d get tangled up, fall down and break some bone no one ever heard of!)

And speaking of the Olympics, organizers have long been petitioning the International Olympic Committee to recognize it officially. This year for the first time, the “Get Tricky”  team, featuring champions from the UK, USA, Belgium and Hungary will showcase the sport at an exhibition during the summer 2012 Games in London. If you’d like an in-depth look, there is also Discovery Films’ Doubletime, a documentary directed by Stephanie Johnes, that tells the story of how rope skipping has moved from school-yard favorite to international competitive sport. The official film website can be found here. It’s worth checking out!

For more information on this weekend’s event, please contact the Sumter County Recreation Department at (803) 436-2248, or the Sumter County Civic Center at (803) 436-2270. This year’s competition is sponsored by Sumter County, the City of Sumter, the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Sumter, Zaxby’s of Sumter and Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC.

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