What Is Tejo?
By Nicolas Puerta Londono
Colegio Nueva Granada | Bogotá, Colombia
When you think about the sports played in Colombia, soccer might be the first thing that comes to mind. But what most people don’t know is that the official national sport of Colombia is actually tejo. It is based on a game first played by the indigenous Muisca people in the town of Turmequé more than 450 years ago. Nowadays, Colombians regard tejo in two important ways:
- as a leisure sport that can be played with friends while casually sharing drinks
- as a high-stakes competition that has been considered for the Olympics
Tejo has three elements:
- a steel puck (that’s the tejo) weighing about half a kilogram (1.1 pounds)
- a board filled with clay and tilted at a 45 degree angle exactly 18 meters (20 yards) away from the thrower
- a metal ring (bocín) in the middle of the board that is surrounded by mechas, little paper packets of gunpowder that explode when hit by the puck
How to Play
The objective is to land the puck in the middle of the bocín while exploding a mecha. Doing so will give you nine points. Hit only a mecha and you will gain three points. If you hit the metal ring and no mecha, you get six points.
Popularity and Cultural Importance
Tejo is regarded as Colombia’s national sport. It is mostly associated with spending time with friends and family, but avid fans are pushing for it to be taken more seriously. They compare it to archery and hope for tejo to become an Olympic sport.
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- Early Elementary School: Jorge is playing tejo. He makes two throws. In the first throw he hits the metal ring but fails to make the mecha explode. On his second throw he only hits a mecha. How many points did he score in total?
- Elementary School: Jorge is playing tejo. He gives it six tries, and on each one he scores six points. What are two different ways you can figure out how many points Jorge scored?
- Middle School: Jorge won two out of three games of tejo. How would you express this as two different fractions? How about as a decimal?
- High School: As the puck leaves Jorge’s hand, it is traveling five meters per second. It spends a total of three seconds in the air. How far (horizontally) did the puck go?
If you were in charge of deciding whether to include tejo in the Olympics, what factors would you consider? Would you include it or not? Why?
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