Just think, this time last year we were gearing up for the 2012 Olympics. Can you believe it? Flags were flying, faces were painted and the cheers were deafening. Fast forward 12 months and it looks like that friendly competitive streak has died down for another three years. However, if you’re finding yourself in games withdrawal mode, we’ve got three words for you: The Mediterranean Games.

Just like the Olympics, the Med Games are held every four years, but with exclusive participation from countries boarding the Mediterranean Sea. This year’s Games will be held in Mersin, Turkey, from 20-30 June 2013 and is well worth the trip overseas – whether to support your country from the stands or just to soak up some summer sun.

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There are 24 countries taking part in this year and we’ll see Europe go head-to-head in a total of 27 different sports, including two disabled events. So who are the countries to watch this year?

Greece

The home of the original Olympics, Greece is also a strong competitor in the Med Games. They have never missed an event since its inception in 1951 and will take part in the handball, volleyball and waterpolo competitions this year.

Italy

The overall champions, Italy snagged a total of 176 medals at the 2009 Games in Pescara – including 64 golds. Football is their best event, narrowly nudging out their French rivals to take their place on the top of the podium.

Cyprus

Cyprus is one to watch, particularly in weight lifting. At the 2009 Games, Cyprus fielded a relatively small team, but took home two silver medals thanks to weightlifter Dimitris Minasidis. Due to the economic crisis, the 2013 team is said to be even smaller, but we’ll still be putting money on the Cypriots.

France

Another strong competitor, the French have won a total of 579 gold medals since 1951. They’ll be taking part in both the men’s and women’s handball and volleyball tournaments and the men’s waterpolo event. The men’s handball team has been smashing through the European competition with intense training and heavy hits.

Turkey

The 2013 host country ranks an overall 4th place, trailing Spain and France. Given its home turf advantage, Turkey will be competing in the men’s basketball, football and waterpolo, while both men’s and women’s teams will go for gold in handball and volleyball events. The competition draws are currently in process, so stay tuned!

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