When you think tug-of-war, you typically think schoolyard PE fun (or torture, for some). You certainly don’t think international competitions and Taiwanese schoolgirls.
Forget hockey and netball - Jingmei Girls' Senior High School in Taiwan is making a name for itself by breeding tug of war machines.
Despite being far younger and smaller than their rivals, the school’s team routinely wins tug-of-war International Federation matches.
At the world Tug-Of-War Indoor Championships in February, the school pulled and heaved its way to four gold and two silver medals.
It certainly wasn’t a once off - since 2010, the team has won nine gold and two silvers at various world tournaments in Italy, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
Who knew pulling a rope as hard as you can is such a big deal.
So what does it take to be on a champion tug of war team?
Pain and gains
Vicky Lee, Jingmei’s 18-year-old captain, told Mashable she’s added 10kgs since picking up the rope.
“I don’t think a lot of girls will choose this sport since they can’t accept having to gain weight or getting calloused hands.”
Competition for places at the school is tense, with roughly 30 girls vying for 9 places in the side.
The Jingmei squad is put through their paces with gruelling two-a-day practices, focusing on a mix of pure strength and team technique.
Rope burn and ripped hands to be the fashion accessory of choice for tug-of-war athletes.
Hope on a rope
Jingmei is an exclusive academic school, so making the tug-of-war team gives girls from poor backgrounds the chance to get a good education.
It means they can often go to college, something unfeasable otherwise.
Tug-of-war also affords athletes to forge an incredible bond - it’s a team sport like no other, where all the parts must move as on in order to succeed.
We’re officially throwing our voice behind the call to have it return as an Olympic sport. Hey, if golf can get a guernsey...