The sixth World Dwarf Games will begin this weekend in East Lansing, Mich., bringing together athletes from 17 countries to compete in tennis, basketball, swimming, and other sports.

In 1985, Len Sawisch, then-president of the Little People of America Foundation, convinced organizers of the Cerebral Palsy/Les Autres National Games, which were being held at Michigan State University, to also host several events exclusively for dwarf athletes.

That year, 30 or so competitors, including Sawisch, founded the Dwarf Athletic Association of America. In 1993, they held the first World Dwarf Games in Chicago. The games are held every four years and the most recent competition — captured in the photos below — took place in Belfast in 2009.

"When I was born in 1951, if you were a dwarf kid and you were interested in sports, you could do two things: You could work for the circus, or you could go into midget wrestling," Sawisch told the Lansing State Journal. "Today, there are little kids all over the world who are thinking about coming here to compete in the World Dwarf Games. That blows me away."

English goalkeeper Eddie Joynson. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

An Indian competitor checks his racket during a badminton match. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Serbian athlete Milan Grahovae leaves the pool during the swimming competition. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

An athlete races in the 60-meter sprint. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Indian athletes Barkath Ali (bottom) and Derada More prepare for the final of the 100-meter sprint. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)