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Airman heads world bike polo championship in France

Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson jockeys for the ball with Zachari Tate during a cycle polo game July 31 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Staff Sgt. Wes Wright/Air Force)

A staff sergeant at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is traveling to France for an international competition of a different sort.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson, a fuels service center controller with the 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight, has qualified to compete the world championship of cycle polo. A combination of polo, hockey and cycling that dates back to the early 20th Century.

“The best way to describe it is three-on-three hockey,” MacPherson said in an Air Force release. “You put the ball in the middle, somebody counts down, and one person from each team sprints [to the ball] in what’s called a joust, and after that, you try to put the ball in the goal.”

MacPherson recently competed in the North American Hardcourt regional qualifier in July, with his team placing in the top 16 to advance to the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships later this month in Montpellier, France.

MacPherson began playing the sport in 2011, with a background in cycling, soccer and hockey.

“This isn’t a sport that’s natural to your body,” the Hoboken, New Jersey, native said in the release. “Trying to hit a ball with a stick while riding a bike sounds like something you would do in a circus. It’s really awkward at first.”

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