Tejo, Colombia’s national sport, struggles with modernity

Americas Now

It began as an indigenous ritual in Colombia long before the Conquistadors arrived in the 16th century.

Participants competed for a maiden’s love –or so goes the legend- throwing golden discs at a target. Whoever had the best accuracy would win the hand of the damsel. With a few additions and tweaks, including the introduction of gun powder and the consumption of quite a lot of beer, the indigenous ritual entered modernity transformed into Tejo, Colombia’s national sport.

Nowadays, however, interest in the practice of Tejo seems to be fading among the new generations, and financial support from the government is barely enough to keep it afloat. Most of the players are in their fifties, and kids aren’t allowed in the courts because of the beer consumption associated with the game.

“We’ve tried to make this an Olympic sport, but haven’t been able to,” says Tejo coach and expert Luis Alberto Gonzalez; “When you mention Tejo people think of alcohol and cholesterol.”

Correspondent Toby Muse tried his luck as a Tejo debutant to report on this story for Americas Now.

Tejo, Colombia’s national sport, struggles with modernity

Tejo, Colombia’s national sport, struggles with modernity

It began as an indigenous ritual in Colombia long before the Conquistadors arrived in the 16th century. Participants competed for a maiden’s love –or so goes the legend- throwing golden discs at a target. Whoever had the best accuracy would win the hand of the damsel. With a few additions and tweaks, including the introduction of gun powder and the consumption of quite a lot of beer, the indigenous ritual entered modernity transformed into Tejo, Colombia’s national sport.