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Lithuanian babies crawl to glory despite lockdown

GUDELIAI, Lithuania (Reuters) – It took 13 seconds for Olivija, a 9-month-old girl, to crawl 5 meters from her family’s living room to the kitchen to be declared the fastest baby in Lithuania, where the annual baby crawlers race was moved online due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The 13 babies competed by crawling through courses set up at their homes, and broadcast live on Facebook via parents’ mobiles. The 14th competitor chose to take a mid-day nap instead.

“Of course she does not understand what has happened. She is just a baby”, Olivija’s mother Ana said after the race, surrounded by three more of her children.

“We believed Olivija will win because she crawls very fast. And you know what was at the finish? It was our pet’s food bowl. That is the top thing for her, she doesn’t need toys”, said Ana.

An hour before the race, in a house just outside the country’s capital, Audrone, 29, and Tomas, 33, were continuously coaching their 10-month-old son Rokas to follow a 5-meter-long red ribbon marking the course.

Various methods to tempt the baby towards the finish line were tested, from favourite toys and a promise of a hug from mother to an invitation to explore the open dishwasher.

“Our baby was the best, even if he didn’t win”, said Tomas after Rokas finished not higher than fourth.

Parents were told to lift up their baby as soon as his or her hand touched the finish line, to make it easier to time the runs, and organizers pleaded with parents to avoid cheating.

“We used to run the races annually, as a mid-game entertainment during basketball matches, but the games are cancelled due to the pandemic”, said Loreta Stakauskaite, head of marketing at Rytas Vilnius basketball club.

“So, to not hurt our fans, especially the smallest ones, we moved the race online”.

Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama


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