12 Weird Olympic Sports That No Longer Exist

Solo Synchronised Swimming - Yellow Octopus

With the 2016 Rio Olympics just around the corner, athletes are madly preparing for the biggest 2 weeks of their lives. Most are competing in sports that are, well, relatively normal. Many are hoping for glory in sports such as athletics, basketball and gymnastics. But the Olympics hasn’t always been such a ‘regulation’ affair. Many weird Olympic sports and peculiar events have existed in days gone by, some of which make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Sports such as the 100m Freestyle for Sailors, and ‘Dueling Pistols’. Wait, what?

As you gear up for this sporting spectacle, acquaint yourself with some weird sports, and picture what the Olympics once was.

Here is a look at 12 of the weirdest Olympic sports that have ever existed.

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Solo Synchronised Swimming - Yellow Octopus
And off she goes!

1) Solo Synchronised Swimming

To be a fly on the wall when the games planning committee came up with this corker. Following absolutely no logic whatsoever, this sporting oxymoron failed miserably as a spectator whet.

First appearing in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, not many hoots were given about the absurdity of the sport because it reappeared at the Seoul Games four years later and again at Barcelona in 1992.

Being in sync with oneself seems more like an existential crisis rather than an Olympic sport, however it was claimed that the aim was to be in sync with the music.

For obvious reasons it was eventually turned into a team sport, what we know as ‘synchronised swimming’ today, and everyone involved with organising the solo event fled to the mountains and remained in hiding for the rest of their natural lives.

Following absolutely no logic whatsoever, this sporting oxymoron failed miserably as a spectator whet.

First appearing in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, not many hoots were given about the absurdity of the sport because it reappeared at the Seoul Games four years later and again at Barcelona in 1992.

Being in sync with oneself seems more like an existential crisis rather than an Olympic sport, however it was claimed that the aim was to be in sync with the music.

For obvious reasons it was eventually turned into a team sport, what we know as ‘synchronised swimming’ today, and everyone involved with organising the solo event fled to the mountains and remained in hiding for the rest of their natural lives.

Weird Olympic Sports - Live Pigeon Shooting

2) Live Pigeon Shooting

The official report of the 1900 Olympic Games (Paris, France) described Pigeon Shooting as “très aristocratique” (very aristocratic). What could be nobler than shooting as many birds as possible in a set period of time?

Though the event is not listed in the IOC medal records, IT DEFINITELTY HAPPENED!

It was the only time in Olympic history that animals were killed on purpose. The sport worked in much the same way as trap shooting where pigeons were released one at a time in front of the competitor. A shooter was eliminated once they missed two birds, and obviously the person who shot the most birds won. The top 4 placegetters split a purse of 20,000 francs.

Over 300 birds were killed during the event.

Unofficial standings-20 franc entrance fee event

1st-Donald Mackintosh (AUS)-22 pigeons
2nd-Pedro José Pidal y Bernaldo de Quirós (ESP)-21 pigeons
3rd-Murphy (USA)-19 pigeons (wasn’t allowed a first name due to Pedro hogging all the scoreboard space)

Weird Olympic Sports - Motorboating

3) Motorboating

As part of the 1908 Summer Olympic Games which took place in the UK, three motorboat racing events were held. Probably invented by ancestors of modern-day jet-ski owners, the inclusion of the sport was short lived. To this day, this Olympiad remains the only one to include motorised sports of any kind. Conducted on the waters of Southampton, the open event was an absolute shambles.

Day one of competition saw two boats compete – Wolseley-Siddely and Dylan-but Dylan abandoned the race half way through the first lap, then poor weather prevented the only remaining competitor from finishing the course.

Day two followed in much the same way with Wolseley-Siddely going up against French challenger Camille. Wolsely-Siddely ran aground on a mud-spit leaving Camille in a Stephen Bradbury position to cruise home for Gold uncontested.

In the Class B event for boats under 60 feet, Quicksilver became threatened by water coming in over the sides, abandoning the race. And in the Class C event one of two Competitors Sea Dog experienced engine problems and had to be towed off the course.

All in all, a fail of gigantic proportions.

Weird Olympic Sports - Distance Plunging

4) Distance Plunging

I kid you not this is just a swimming race without the swimming. You just dive in to the pool and wait until you surface after a few metres. No kicking or movement of any kind, nothing. It appeared on the Olympic program on only once occasion back in 1904 at the St Louis games. Seemingly the early 20th century was a real wasteland for the Olympics, with the planning committee obviously sampling some of the world’s finest weed and chugging Moonshine in bulk.

Participants would dive into the pool and without using propulsion of any kind, gliding face down for a period of 60 seconds before surfacing, with the victor being the man with the longest ‘plunge’.

The event was ridiculed profusely for its lack of athleticism and Gerald Barnes suggested it favoured, “mere mountains of fat who fall in the water more or less successfully and depend upon inertia to get their points for them.”

Weird Olympic Sports - Jeu De paume

5) Jeu De Paume

This one actually sounds pretty good. In essence Jeu De Paume was the precursor to modern-day tennis and has been played as far back as the 17th Century. Always played indoors, the game translates literally to ‘palm game’ because initially only the palm of your hand was used to propel the ball over the net.

Over time the game was adapted to incorporate battoirs (paddle bats), and later, strung racquets like those used today. The game first appeared in 1908 and went on to be included in the Olympics a total of zero more times.

Ironically no French people competed, with all 11 competitors coming from either the USA or the UK. American Jay Gould II took out the gold with Eustace Miles in second and The Honourable Neville Bulwer-Lytton in third (though he did win gold for most British sounding name of all time.)

Weird Olympic Sports - Tug-Of-War

6) Tug-Of-War

The Tug-Of-War event was held at every Olympic Games from 1900 to 1920, and to be quite frank I’m not sure why they got rid of it. What’s not to like about teams of next level beasts tussling in the ultimate strength-based war of attrition. Surely they could bring back the Tug-Of-War and drop the 50k walk. As was standard at the time the UK and USA dominated with most of the medals with the Swedes harnessing their Viking roots to pick a few.

Weird Olympic Sports - Deuling Pistols

7) Dueling Pistols

This is not technically an Olympic sport as it appeared in the unofficial Intercalated Olympic Games held in Athens, 1906, but due to the absurdity is still worth mentioning. Pistol dueling would have been ludicrous enough, but in fact, there was no actual dueling at all. The event was merely guys shooting at plaster dummies wearing frock coats from a distance of 20-30 metres.

Australians seemingly think it’s the bee’s knees as a poll in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics revealed 32% of people wanted to see the sport re-instated.

Weird Olympic Sports - Swimming Obstancle Race

8) Swimming Obstacle Race

Frederick Lane from Australia must have felt pretty chuffed to be the only person in history to take out the Olympic swimming obstacle race. The race took place over 200 metres in the River Seine and competitors had to swim, climb over a pole, then over a row of boats, then swim under a row of boats then swim some more.

Interestingly Lane also took at the regular 200m Freestyle clocking a time only 13 seconds faster than with the obstacles in the way for which he won a 50 pound bronze horse.

Weird Olympic Sports - Rogue

9) Roque

Roque is an early form of tunnel ball where participants roll large orbs of Roquefort chesse through their legs. OK that’s not true, but you probably could have got that one past the 1904 Olympic Planning Committee without any hassle.

Roque is an American variant of croquet, named by removing the ‘c’ and ‘t’. Apart from the highly original title change, there are quite a few notable differences between the two sports, however all are too boring to list here. Aficionados of the sport once claimed it was “the game of the Century”, a proclamation which has undoubtedly come true given how big Roque is these days.

Occurring during the golden age of the Olympics where none of the sports made any sense whatsoever, it was another one hit sporting wonder. Given that only a few eccentric Americans played it, and everyone else knew it stunk to high heaven, the 1904 event consisted of yanks playing each other resulting in a medals clean sweep.

Weird Olympic Sports - La Canne

10) La Canne

This martial art invented by the French involves combatants fighting each other with walking sticks. It was never an official Olympic sport, however it appeared as a demonstration sport at the 1924 Summer Games in Paris.

Developed by upper class ‘bourgeois’ gentlemen in the 19th century as a form of self-defence, it largely just made you looks like a fool and as such the sport never struck much global notoriety. However, it is still practiced in many retirement homes around the world.

Weird Olympic Sports - Club Swinging

11) Club Swinging

1904 Olympics Strikes again, they were simply on fire with their sport selections that year! Club Swinging also made a cameo at the 1932 games as well, and really it’s not as pitiful as most sports on this list. In fact, the sport has seen somewhat of a resurgence as a form of exercise. In a nutshell, Club Swinging is juggling where the juggling pins never leave your hands. Weighing around 2 pounds each, you swing the clubs around like an absolute maniac, I mean you swing the clubs in various patterns to form a complicated routine.

Weird Olympic Sports - 100m Freestyle for Sailors

12) 100m Freestyle for Sailors

This one really does boggle the mind. It’s exactly what the name suggests, a 100 meter Freestyle race where only sailors could enter and it was part of the 1896 Athens Olympics. They had the normal freestyle of course, but thought it necessary to have a sailor-only event to add breadth to the aquatic program. Only three men from Greece entered, they all swam very slowly, all finished on the podium, and that was the end of that. Thankfully, forever.

And because nobody has conducted said event for over a century, the closest thing to footage I could find was these Russian sailors rescuing a dog from an Ice Berg.