Strangest Olympic Sports

Strangest Olympic Sports

The Olympics brought yet another year of international excellence in both sports and humanity. We watched, held our breathe and cheered for the many participants, no matter what country of origin. The Olympics has always been a symbol of world wide unity, but throughout history, there have been some sports that we just scratch our head and wonder why they were even considered. Here are a few that have been entered into the ‘what were they thinking’ category.

Shooting Live Pigeons

The Olympics have been noted for the sports that involve human beings only and for not allowing any sport that involves the killing of any animals. The 1900 Olympics in Paris was the exception to that rule, where the athletes were selected on their skill for killing live pigeons for sport. The Gold was given to Leon Lunden, of Belgiu, for killing 21 birds. Total number of birds killed were three hundres.

Tug-Of-War, Not Just for Kids

We all remember a school game called Tug-of-War in our gym classes. A little known fact is that in the 1900 to 1920 time period of modern Olympics, the game of Tug-of-War was played at every game and was considered to be part of the tack-and-field events.

The questionable sport of Race-Walking

There is much controversy as to why athletic sports such as cricket and baseball are not considered as an Olympic sport, and yet the odd sport of race-walking is included. This is a regimented process of walking where the athlete must maintain consistent ground contact, with at least one foot. For those of us that are not experts, it simply appears that the athletes are walking at a brisk pace, with an odd appearance of a penguin walk. However, there is a fine technical art in this sport and athletes are often judged on proper form as well as docked points if there are unusual or illegal techniques.

Rope Climbing as Gymnastics?

Some of us may remember rope climbing as part of our school gymnastics program, but you may not be aware that it was included as a competitive Olympic sport, beginning in 1896. Rope climbing was not a mainstay, as it had a spotty appearance in the Olympics until 1932. The contestant began in a seated position and athletes made a race to the top of an approximate 8-meter length rope. The ‘sport’ made a come back in the 1986 Olympics and its popularity has increased in the Czech Republic and France.

The Ancient Art of Pistols at Dawn

No, this ‘sport’ didn’t involve people shooting at each other (although some of the U.S. gun enthusiasts would have been happy to see this added). The 1906 Olympics in Athens included dueling pistols, where the contestants shot at mannequins, with the traditional bulls eye target attached to the chest area. It was not a popular event and never renewed as an Olympic sport.

Synchronized swimming- Solo

Yes, it is astounding that it took the Olympic committee three Olympics to come to the realization that ‘solo synchronized swimming’ is an oxymoron. One person can’t be synchronized with another – when there is only one.


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