Odd Sports You Didn’t Know Were in the Olympics


Despite being the most prestigious sporting event in the world, the Olympics is not without its share of oddities. These strange and obscure sporting events only make the Olympics history even more worth checking out. After reading this, you will feel glad that some of the games are no longer featured in the modern Olympics, for valid reasons. Here are some of them:

1. Solo synchronized swimming

Solo synchronized swimming became an official Olympic event when it was first introduced in Los Angeles Games in 1984. Swimmer Tracie Ruiz from the United States won the gold medal in this peculiar event.

The sport is like the synchronized swimming in groups, only you’re doing it alone. It’s totally oxymoronic, but sports officials and organizers argued that the swimmer was in dancing sync to the background music. It was discontinued in 1992 and it looks like we’re not going to see it quite soon!

2. Club swinging

Club swinging was officially introduced in the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Many say that this club swinging was the ancestor to the current sporting events that use hoops and ribbons.

Club swinging involves an athlete who stands straight and erect and holds two clubs (that resemble the ones used in juggling, but bigger and heavier) in each hand. Then the player twirls, spins and whirls them around. The player who does the most complicated routine wins the most points and, eventually, the gold medal.

3. Tug-of-war

You can see tug-of-war in school games, fairs, and other amateur and professional sporting competitions. But did you know that it used to be an Olympic sport? The tug-of-war used to be part of the Summer Olympics from 1900 to 1920. It is now part of the World Games, an organization that features sporting events which have not been played in the Olympics (although the organization is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee).

4. Live pigeon shooting

Pigeon shooting used to be a dominant in the modern Olympics since it inaugurated in 1896. At first, participants usually opened fire at clay pigeons. But in the 1900 Paris Games, they released real, live birds into the air and athletes aimed their rifles at their flying targets. This bloody sporting event resulted into 300 pigeons killed, with the winner bringing down a total of 21.

Fortunately, the 1900 Paris Games became the only time that live pigeon shooting was played in the Olympics.

5. Rope climb

Rope climb actually used to be an Olympic sporting event. It was first introduced when the modern Olympics was inaugurated in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Originally, participating athletes were judged based on their climbing speed and style. But by the early 20th century, it simply became more of a racing game where athletes were out-climbing each other to the top.

The most notable winner was US Olympian George Eyser, who won a gold medal in this sporting event during the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. What’s more impressive is that he finished first despite wearing a wooden prosthetic leg.

6. Dueling pistols

Before you raise your eyebrows at this part of the article, take note that the Olympics’ version of the dueling pistols is nothing like what you see in the usual Wild West confrontations.

In fact, dueling in the Olympics didn’t end up with bloodshed and violence because there was no dueling actually happening in the first place. Here, participants aimed their pistols and shot at dummies clad in frock coats, which stood 20 or 30 meters away from the shooter.

This event appeared in the unofficial Intercalated Games in Athens, Greece in 1906, and was played as a non-medal event in the 1908 London Olympics.

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