Finland may have picked up only four medals in the Beijing Olympics, but when staging off-beat competitions, the country best known for Nokia and saunas is the world champion. And it is in summer - as a minor celebration of the long evenings - that Finland's competitions take centre stage in all their wackiness. The Air Guitar World Championship Contest was first held in 1996 as part of the music video festival in Oulu, with worldwide participants strutting their stuff strumming and picking imaginary guitars to rock and heavy metal soundtracks. The judges included Finnish guitarist Juha Torvinen, and the top prize was a custom-made 'Flying Finn' guitar and Vox BM Special amplifier donated by Queen's Brian May. While Finnish air guitarists won the competition hands-down (and up) in the first few years, more recently overseas contestants have been taking the top places, most recently Craig 'Hot Lixx Hulahan' Billmeier of the United States. The fest had an unusual - though hardly surprising given Finland's expertise in the field of technology - spin-off, as students at Helsinki University developed a computerised system that translates hand movements into electric guitar sounds. The rules for the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships are simple in the extreme - hurl the mobile (which must weigh at least 220 grams) as far as you can. The record is 95.83 metres for men and 53.52 metres for women. First held in Savonlinna in 2000, the tourney has been refined over the years. There are now four categories, headed by the traditional over-the-shoulder throw, with participants allowed a maximum of three attempts. More artistically minded contestants can enter the freestyle event, when points are awarded for aesthetics and creative choreography. For the team event, groups of three competitors each get one throw, and their scores are added together, while the under-12s get a chance to show off their strength in the junior challenge. The Mobile Throwing Champs is an opportunity for environmental organisations to raise awareness about recycling and husbanding natural resources, activities which Finland rates as highly important. With 10 per cent of the country covered by lakes - numbering about 188,000 - Finland is not short of water, which is where the Swamp Soccer World Championship comes in. Initially used as a training exercise for athletes and soldiers, swamp soccer has become a sport in its own right, with players plunging knee-deep into a boggy pitch for matches that are as hard-fought as they are hilarious. Apart from the obvious differences, there is no offside in six-a-side swamp soccer, and boots cannot be changed during the game, which is divided into two halves of 13 minutes each. The pitch measures 60 by 35 metres, and players - drawn from a 12-strong squad - are substituted as soon as they appear to be flagging. Dubbed the messiest sporting event in the world, the contest is the brainchild of Jyrki Vaananen - known as The Swamp Baron - who organised the first championships in 1998. The venue moved to Hyrynsalmi in 2000, and more than 5,000 players attend the championships each year, cheered on from a safe distance by huge crowds. Finally, and perhaps most bizarrely, entrants for the Wife Carrying World Championships at Sonkajarvi - which traces its origins to an age-old courting ritual - are faced with a tricky dilemma. First prize is the winner's spouse's weight in beer. Do you put her on a diet, making her lighter to carry, or feed her up in the hope of a bigger prize? The wife, weighing at least 49kg, being carried - piggyback, fireman's lift or head down with her legs around her teammate's shoulders - may be the husband's own or somebody else's, but must be at least 17 years old. Rather than a straightforward race, the wife carry is conducted over a 253.5-metre obstacle course, which includes a water hazard. The most important rule is that all the participants must have fun, which is the hallmark of all of Finland's more outlandish festivals.