The worldwide popularity of the Olympics allows for lesser known sports to get the spotlight once every four years. Sometimes, even the grandeur of the Olympics isn’t enough to cause a sport to become popular. Here are some of the odder events that had a short stay at the Olympics.
200m Obstacle Swim (1900): The world has truly been robbed by only having this event appear once in Olympic history. Athletes had to climb a pole, scramble over a row of boats and then swim under another row of boats. There is no truth to the rumors that athletes had to dress up in oversized clown costumes and spin around with their heads against a bat.
Dueling Pistols (1906 and 1912): This may have the most misleading name for an Olympic sport. It should have been called “Guy fires his gun at a helpless mannequin dressed in a frock coat.” Even though the mannequin was getting riddled with bullets, at least he had the dignity of being clothed.
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Jeu de Paume (1908): Do you ever think tennis would be such a better sport if they just ditched that pesky racket? Then the “game of the palm” is for you. This sport followed similar rules to squash, but all the hitting was done with your hands.
Pigeon Shooting (1900): The athlete who shoots down the most pigeons is the winner. Except we’re not talking about clay pigeons here, but rather living birds. Well, until they get shot dead, of course. This is the one event that I’m 100% confident won’t ever make a glorious return.
Plunge for Distance and Underwater Swimming (1900 & 1904): It appears the Olympic events committee went to an 8-year-old’s pool party for competition ideas. These events adopted the childhood classic challenges of who can go underwater the deepest and stay under the longest.
Rope Climb (1896-1932): Remember all those painful gym classes where you were forced to slither up the uncomfortable rope? Well, if you find a time machine, then you can use all your torturous years of gym to be an Olympian.
Men’s Sailors 100 Meter Freestyle (1896): The event was only open to the Greek Royal Navy, which seems to go against the Olympic spirit of openness and inclusion. In a huge shocker, the Greeks swept the medals.
Solo Synchronized Swimming (1984 and 1992): I’m also a big fan of solo synchronized walking, solo synchronized eating and solo synchronized sleeping.
Tug of War (1900-1920): The Olympics is kind of like camp, because the athlete travels a long way from home, gets to meet people from all over and ends up bunking with several other people. It only makes sense that it would contain one of the most classic camp games of all time. Alas, this competition of strength was no match for events like table tennis and the trampoline.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)