About 1,000 athletes from 20 countries and regions are taking part in this week's World Rope Skipping Championships in Hong Kong, and they and their fans come proclaiming rope-skipping's right to be taken as a serious sport. "We want rope skipping to be part of the Olympics, or at least the World Games," said Fransiska Deberdt, who flew from Belgium to watch her son, Alec, compete. "But it's difficult because it's not known and people often think it's just what you play at kindergarten." "You can't compare it to any other sport - it's just so varied," said Sude Tamer, 13, who arrived from Hamburg, Germany, to compete in the youth tournament. "I think it's stupid that it's not in the Olympics. It's not that famous now but it's getting more popular," she added. While some are eager to see jump-rope win wider recognition, Hong Kong contestants Yip Men-wai, 15, and Kung Ching-yan, 18 - who train three to four times a week - enjoy the unique appeal of their niche sport. There are team and individual contests, including speed relays and freestyle, where routines look like breakdancing and performers are scored on creativity and musicality along with their physical prowess. Yip and Kung performed a high-energy synchronised routine set to a dubstep track. The tournament is held every two years and Hong Kong beat South Korea to host this year's event at the MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok and the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom. Belgium is hotly tipped to top the medal board when the competition, which began yesterday, ends on Sunday. As the first day's events got under way, Sven De Vlam, head of the Belgian delegation, said: "Hong Kong is doing very well, as is China - especially in speed." De Vlam, who also coaches the national team, added: "In terms of training for speed, they are an example for everyone." While a good training programme is important for any budding jump-roper, De Vlam said passion was the key. "When you believe in yourself, and when rope-skipping is everything for you, then you can reach everything."