We’ve all grown accustomed to the Olympic sports of swimming, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, and even ping pong, but there are quite a few events that you’ve probably never heard of that are sure to raise an eyebrow. Some were very short-lived or discontinued long ago, while others have been or will be featured in Rio later this month. You might even experience a couple of flashbacks to your childhood while reading through this list. Here we’ll take a pause from the current Olympic competition to highlight 5 of the weirdest Olympic sports from past to present.
Caution – If you’re an animal rights activist, read no further. Yes, long ago Pigeon Shooting was an actual Olympic sport. It made its first only appearance at the 1900 Olympic games in Paris. Belgian competitor Leon de Lunden won the gold medal that day by shooting 21 pigeons out of the sky. Today, shooting is still an Olympic sport. However, the pigeons have now been replaced by clay targets in a game more formally known as skeet shooting.
The Wild Wild West made an appearance in 1906 in the form of pistol dueling at the unofficial Intercalated Games which was considered by many to be a part of the Olympics. Thankfully, instead of two individuals dueling to the death, competitors shot at dummies from 20 or 25 meters away. According to TIME, an Australian poll held before the Sydney games in 2000 found that 32% wanted to see the sport revived at the summer games.
Tug of War
This playground staple made five appearances at the Olympic games from 1900 to 1920. The rules pitted eight-man teams against each other and whoever could pull their 0pponent six feet would be adorned with the gold medal. In the 1904 games hosted by St. Louis, the Milwaukee Athletics Club rolled through the competition to win the gold in an event that included teams from Greece, South Africa, and several others from the United States.
If you type trampolining on your computer you might get one of those red squiggly lines telling you that it isn’t a word. That just means that your computer didn’t even know it was an Olympic sport. Trampolining was introduced at the Sydney games in 2000 and will be a part of the games in Rio this month. Just because you could bounce around and do a backflip in your backyard when you were a kid doesn’t make you an Olympic athlete. Officials say this game requires an immense amount of athleticism, balance, and body control to score a gold medal.
Believe it or not, Race Walking has been an Olympic sport since 1904. In this game, you have to be the fastest without actually running. Strange, right? Competitors must keep one foot on the ground at all times to ensure they are not actually running or risk being disqualified from the event. It’s kind of like when you were a kid and your parents told you to stop running. You stopped running, but you certainly weren’t walking. You were actually training to be a race walker in the Olympics!