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gold medal Just for Jock Docs: the World Medical Games

An event like the Olympics is sure to stir lofty athletic dreams. And if you're a physician who cares for athletes, you might find yourself pining to be on the field-not as a doctor, but as a competitor. Every year about 1,300 medical peers from more than 20 countries gather to realize the dream of competing for international honors at the World Medical Games (, an event that combines sports and continuing medical education.

Unlike the Olympics, the event does not focus on competition between countries. National flags, hymns, and colors are banned. Instead, athletes represent cities, regions, hospitals, or simply themselves. According to the organizers, the event is designed to be a friendly meeting of sports people from medical professions. But the event does have an Olympic-style flavor, with an opening ceremony, medal presentations, and a central village area where participants socialize.

The first World Medical Games were held in 1978 in Cannes, France. The most recent contest was held June 29 to July 6 in Lisbon, Portugal. The event is open to physicians, dentists, veterinarians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and fourth-year medical students. Sports include soccer, golf, handball, judo, rugby, track and field, weight lifting, fencing, swimming, windsurfing, half marathon, squash, tennis, table tennis, shooting, triathlon, sailing, volleyball, basketball, cycling, and mountain biking. Most sports are broken down into age categories.

Symposium topics usually revolve around sports medicine themes. This year's topics included sports nutrition and vaccination for athletes. When the talks aren't offered in English, translator headphones are available. American physicians who attend the symposium can earn up to 30 hours of AMA Category 1 credit.

The World Medical Games are well attended by members of the European medical community, but organizers are hoping to attract more participants from the United States and other countries. This year, about 30 people from the United States traveled to the games, says Joseph Del Monte of Velia Travel in Malden, Massachusetts. Del Monte is the appointed contact person in the United States for games registration and travel arrangements. For more information, call (617) 321-6500.

Jerrold Zeitels, MD, a plastic surgeon in Warren, New Jersey, has taken part in the games for the past 3 years because he says it allows him to compete for a medal in the sport he loves—basketball. He has also competed in swimming. "It's like a mini Olympics, and it seems well organized," Zeitels says.

There weren't enough Americans to form a basketball team this year, so he played on a team of veterinarians from Lyon, France; they won a silver medal. Zeitels says he'd like to see more Americans attend the World Medical Games: "It would be great if we could have an American basketball team next year. If anyone out there is interested, please call me." Zeitels' office phone number is (908) 654-6540.

The event is organized by Corporate Sport Organisation, a company based in Marseille, France that also organizes Mundiavocat, a world soccer cup for lawyers. Del Monte says the 1997 games will be held June 21 to June 28 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France, about 50 miles north of Paris on the English Channel.