Juan Pablo Montoya, Nairo Quintana, Mariana Pajón and Edgar Rentería are just a few notable athletes that Colombia has given the world. The variety of sports played in Colombia, including the original Colombian game of tejo, together with the success achieved by its athletes on the world stage is quite remarkable.
Part of this success is due to the support given to sports officially through the government institute Instituto Colombiano del Deporte (the Colombian Sports Institute) which is a part of the Ministry of Culture.Tejo (pronounced teh-ho) is a popular game similar to horseshoes which involves throwing a metal disk into a pipe 60 feet away. The curious thing is that the pipe has surrounding it little firecrackers that go off when the disk makes contact.
This explosion signals what points will be awarded. For the visitor to Colombia finding a game of Tejo isn’t hard and joining in is often encouraged. Like many other countries, soccer is the principal sport played by over 3 million people in organized leagues and teams. Players that make it to professional level will play in the national league or, surprisingly, the MLS in the United States which has been a very important magnet for Colombian soccer talent.
To a lesser degree, some players like Radamel Falcao have gone to play in the European leagues. Other sports like cycling, baseball, golf, tennis, and boxing have a very important place in Colombia’s sports scene. Smaller sports like roller skating (especially speed roller skating), martial arts and bowling have also seen important contributions from Colombian athletes in the last 20 years.
The variety and contrasts that can be found in Colombia can also apply to its sports. While soccer is the most important sport in Colombia, there are a number of other sports that capture the attention and admiration not only of their fellow countrymen but of admirers from around the world.