Weird Olympic Sports

9 Olympic Sports you never knew existed.


With the Olympic Games just around the corner, we wanted to reminisce about past Olympic games.

1. Tug-of-War

Tug of War 

The game of tug-of-war became an official Olympic sport in 1900 and was eventually discontinued in 1920. In the early formation of the event many teams consisted of athletes who were competing in other track and field events, so the sport fell under that program. The first tug of war Olympic gold medal went to a combined team from Sweden and Denmark, after they defeated France in the final. The tug-of-war event was always between two teams of eight. One team had to pull the other six feet along in order to win. If after 5 minutes no team had done this, the team which had pulled the other team the farthest was declared the winner.

2. Swimming Obstacle Race 


The 200 meter swimming obstacle race was only an official sport one year in 1900. The event was a swimming competition and obstacle course and consisted of athletes climbing over poles, climbing over and swimming under rows of boats, and finally swimming to the finish.

3. Rope Climbing


The rope climbing event became an official Olympic sport when it was adopted by the gymnastics program in 1896. While competitors were originally judged on both speed and style, it later transitioned to where Olympian rope climbers merely had to race to the top. Arguably the most impressive win in the history of the event took place in St. Louis 1904, when U.S. gymnast George Eyser won gold despite having a wooden leg. While the event was later discontinued in 1912, in modern gymnastics there are still events that pay homage to the simple rope climb.

4. Solo Synchronized Swimming

Shaun Botterill / Getty Images 

Solo synchronized swimming was mainly a weird Olympic sport due to the name. It became an official Olympic sport in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics, but was later discontinued in 1992. It’s unusualness comes from the idea that one swimmer would be able to be synchronized with oneself. This confusion made the sport unpopular which is why it was only around for three Olympics. However, after the event was discontinued in 1992, the event transformed into a team event and has been a thriving sport ever since.

5. Curling


The sport of curling dates back to the early 1500s in Scotland but wasn’t made an Olympic sport until 1988, which was 56 years after its first debut at the Olympic Games in 1924. For a long time curling was considered a demonstration event, so while it was featured in many the Games it wasn’t considered a competitive sport. So when it became official, athletes of the 1924 curling teams were awarded medals.

Each match is made up of periods, where two teams of four players each take turns sliding 42-pound polished granite stones down a sheet of ice towards a bullseye made up of four concentric circles.

As the stone curls towards its intended the other three team members sweep the ice with brooms, causing the stone to speed up or change directions.

6. Live Pigeon Shooting

Popperfoto / Getty Images 

Live Pigeon Shooting was held only once in Olympic history, in 1900. The object of this event was to shoot and kill as many birds as possible. This was the first and only times in Olympic history where animals were killed on purpose.

Six birds were released 27 meters in front of the participant. The participant was eliminated once they missed two birds. The winner was the competitor who shot down the most birds from the sky. Reportedly nearly 300 birds were killed during the event.

7. Plunge for Distance


Plunge diving also known as plunging for distance is an event where athletes must dive into a pool and try to reach the other end of the pool without swimming. This event was only held once at the Olympics, in Paris 1904.

The competitors began with a standing dive, then had to remain motionless underwater for one minute or until their heads broke the surface of the water, whichever came first.

8. Club Swinging


The gymnastics event of club swinging was only an official Olympic Sport in 1904 and 1932. It is often compared to modern Olympic rhythmic gymnastics because of competitors using apparatuses such as bowling pins, or juggling clubs.

Club Swinging involves the competitor standing with a club in each hand. Unlike juggling, the clubs do not leave the hands, and are swung very quickly around the body and head in a variety of patterns.

9. Race Walking


The 20-kilometer race walk became official in 1904 as a half-mile walk. Even though the event sounds simple, the regulations are very strict. The official Olympic rules are, competitors who cross the boundary from walking to running during a race walk are cited for “lifting” infractions. Basically, the walker’s front foot must be on the ground when the rear foot is raised. Also, the front leg must straighten when it makes contact with the ground.

Here are just a few of the weird sports the Olympic Games has to offer. Be sure to check out official website of the Olympics for more info on all your favorite sports.