9 Really Wacky Former Olympic Events

By Suzan Clarke

Aug 8, 2012 7:48am
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Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

You won’t believe some of the sporting events that used to form Olympic Games of times past.

The majority of those sports of dubious repute appeared in the 1900 Summer Games in Paris, which were held as part of the World’s Fair.  The International Olympic Committee says the 1,900 games were so under-promoted that many athletes didn’t realize they were performing in an Olympic event.

Also strange? In several of the sports, athletes from different nations competed on the same team.

Here’s a list of nine really wacky ones, now discontinued.

Tug-of-War. No joke. Tug-of-war was an actual Olympic event from 1900 to 1920.

Croquet.  It, too, was an Olympic sport at the 1900 games in Paris. According to the IOC, the event had only French players and only one person bought a ticket to watch the competition.

Rope climbing. American George Eyser, who had a wooden leg, won the event. The IOC says it was part of “16 different movements” required in order to win the individual all-around gymnastics event.  Another requirement? The 50-kilogram stone lift.

Click HERE for more odd Olympics sports from the past.

Long jump, for horses. This event at the 1900 games featured 17 competitors.  Constant van Langendonck of Belgium won on the horse Extra Dry.

Motor boating.  This event, officially designated “water motorsports,” took place at the 1908 games in London.  The sport was removed from the Olympic roster because of a ban on motorized sports.

Firefighting. It was an unofficial event, probably owing its inclusion to the World’s Fair. A firehouse from Kansas City reportedly won.

Hot-air ballooning. Pilots at the Paris Olympics were judged on distance traveled, time in the air and ability to land at predetermined coordinates.

Live pigeon shooting. Also held during the Paris Games, competitors in this event had to shoot as many pigeons as they possibly could. Leon de Lunden of Belgium killed 21 of the birds to capture the top honors. The event was never held again.

Individual synchronized swimming. This seemingly contradictory sport debuted at the Olympics in 1984 and had its swan song in 1992. The gold medal for that event was shared by Kristen Babb-Sprague of the United States and Sylvie Frechette of Canada.

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