Ten curious sports that have been part of the Olympics


Athletics, swimming and basketball are all Olympic sports which we are used to seeing. But did you know that there are a few events which have been part of the Games in the past and, perhaps due in part to their slight oddness, have fallen by the Olympic wayside?


Here is a list of 10 somewhat different sports which have played (or still do play) a part in the Olympic roster:


  • Individual synchronized swimming

One swimmer, synchronised with themselves! Believe it or not, it did actually happen, in the LA 1984 Games, to the swimmer Tracie Ruiz. Maybe it was a good idea, because she took the gold, or maybe not so good, as from 1992 onwards the event was discontinued.


  • Pidgeon shooting

The 1900 Paris Games were noteworthy for two reasons: first, for being the first international competition which allowed women to compete. Second, for including a bizarre sport which required contestants to shoot down as many of the feathery targets as possible. Roughly 300 of the birds were killed, leaving a bloody mess behind them – the winner shot 21. Perhaps because of the post-event clean-up operation that was necessary, the sport never came back to the Olympics. Pigeons rejoice!


  • Swimming with obstacles

Climbing onto boats, swimming under them, heaving oneself onto poles in the middle of the River Seine. In addition to swimming, competitors had to do all this and more. To many a swimmer’s relief, the event was discontinued after the 1900 Games.


  • Hockey on wheels

Similar to Ice Hockey, but with roller skates, the sport appeared at the Barcelona 1992 Games, but never returned, meaning Argentina are the one and only Olympic champion of the sport.


  • Juggling

The precursor to Rhythmic Gymnastics, the sport, which started in the 1904 Games, involved an athlete spinning sticks around in their hands. The more complicated the movement, the points they won. It only made two appearances at the Games, and nowadays is more common at the circus.


  • Tug of war

A well-known school playground past-time, the sport was taken pretty seriously at the beginning of the 1900s. Rules were basically what you remember from sports day – each team pulls the rope until one of them is pulled past the marker in the middle. According to the record books, GB lead the way in terms of medals in this sport – nice work, Team GB!


  • Fencing with sticks

The French sport La Canne was pretty much like modern day Fencing, except that competitors used sticks, not swords. The event only featured in one edition of the Olympics, in 1924.


  • Rope climbing

Another playground sport taken a little too seriously, whoever got to the top first won. The event was an Olympic standard, from 1896 until 1932! How about a return for the Tokyo Games?


  • Trampolining

Introduced to the Olympics in 2000, the athletes who perform the most spectacular, death-defying leaps and flips are the ones who take the medals.


  • Race walking

Is it possible to win a race without running? Only for the brave! An Olympic sport since 1904, athletes must have one foot in contact with the ground at all times – take both feet off the ground, even for a fraction of a second, and you’re disqualified, impossible?!



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