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Norway’s King Harald adds royal touch to the World Gym for Life Challenge 2017

Publication date : 21/02/2017

His Majesty King Harald of Norway, who is celebrating his 80th birthday today, has announced that he will attend the opening ceremony of the World Gym for Life Challenge, an FIG Gymnastics for All event taking place in Vestfold (NOR) July 26 – 30, 2017.

King Harald was presented with the opportunity to associate itself with three sports events that will be held in Norway this year - including the 3rd World Gym for Life Challenge - as a special birthday gift from the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF). With King Harald’s acceptance, the event’s official name has become King Harald´s World Gym for Life Challenge 2017.

A keen sportsman himself, King Harald represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. Crown Prince at the time, he carried the Norwegian flag at the opening ceremony in Tokyo in 1964. Three years after his coronation, he opened the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics on his home soil.

LOC President Stig Nilssen (NOR) said: “We are very pleased with the fact that the Norwegian King, King Harald V, has announced that he will be present at the World Gym for Life Challenge! King Harald celebrates his 80th birthday this year, and he allowed us and to connect his name with our big event, thus making it 'King Harald´s World Gym for Life Challenge 2017'. King Harald V is very fond of all kind of sports, and we are sure he will appreciate meeting all of you in July.”

FIG Gymnastics for All Committee President Margaret Sikkens Ahlquist (SWE) said: “Royalty plays an important role in Norway. They represent their country in a very positive way. The acceptance of King Harald to have his name added to the World Gym for Life Challenge shows the importance of our event and it is a huge honour for all participants. I am also positive that this royal touch will turn more media interest to this unique event. And they will not be disappointed: The gala will be of very high quality.”

The World Gym for Life Challenge was established in 2009 as the FIG’s second international Gymnastics for All event after its flagship event, the World Gymnaestrada. Held every four years, the Challenge is a contest for Gymnastics groups who want their performances to be evaluated based on creativity and originality. Even so, the atmosphere at the Challenge is light, as groups take the time to engage with each other, exchanging compliments about each routine or striving to improve their skills together during workshops.

The event culminates with a closing gala, where the best groups are invited to perform and the top-rated group is awarded a special trophy, named after former FIG President Bruno Grandi.

Vestfold will stage the event’s third edition after Dornbirn (AUT) in 2009 and Cape Town (RSA) in 2013.