Five Unusual Events that No Longer Take Place in the Olympics

With the rearranged Olympics set to take place this summer in Tokyo, we've taken a look back at some of the more unusual sports that were previously part of the Games.

Olympic Games

The delayed Olympic Games are finally set to go ahead later this year in Tokyo where spectators and sports fans will enjoy watching top-quality athletics, swimming, tennis and even golf.

The more unusual sports that we’re treated to every four years often catch the eye, though, and the likes of mountain bike riding, water polo and even Greco-Roman Wrestling offer a diverse and refreshing mix of entertainment.

Looking back on the history of the Games, there are even more weird and wonderful events that used to be part of the Olympic bill, reflecting the era and pastimes of the period. Here are five of the more unusual ones that no longer take place.

5. Horse Long Jumping

Before the advent of the motor car, horses were everywhere. So, it’s no surprise that they featured heavily in the early 1900s Olympics.

The only Horse Long Jump event took place in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, when most of the horses reached at least 14 feet, and the winning jump was around 20 feet. However, that’s still considerably less than the world record for a human long jump, which stands at just over 29ft.

4. Pistol Dueling

Pistol Dueling was a thing, really. Although they didn’t use real bullets, of course, they were made of wax. It debuted in the 1908 London Olympics when great precautions were taken to try and avoid serious injuries. It was reported at the time that skilled duelers would protect their firing arms with a heavy guard, and also keep their faces behind plate glass. That’s ok then. Imagine health and safety trying to justify it these days?

Understandably we now have to settle for individual shooting events and for those with a little bit more of a penchant for a duel, fencing.

3. Rope Climbing

More associated with 1980s PE lessons, climbing a rope – with guile and at great speed, of course – existed in the Olympics too back in the day. It was first seen way back in 1896, when competitors were judged on form and speed.

They made it simpler in future Games when medals were given out to those who made it to the top of a 20ft-plus rope suspended high up in the quickest time. The last rope-climbing event was in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Maybe the leg and arm burns became too much?

2. Club Swinging

Literally swinging a big club around. Back in 1904, organisers thought this was a good idea and it must have been fairly popular because it returned in the 1932 Games as well.

Picture it as like a form of juggling where these massive juggling pins never leave your hands as you attempt to follow a complex routine. They weighed around two pounds each and probably made those taking part look a bit crazy.

1. Tug Of War

What would be more fun than seeing bulked-up strongmen and women stand across from each other tugging on a big rope to see who’s better at it?

Still a popular local pastime that regularly features in village shows and summer fetes, Tug Of War was a bona fide Olympic event between 1900 and 1920 and there are even some reports that claim it was in fact, part of the Ancient Olympics, first held in 500BC.

The more modern version was usually between two teams of eight. Opponents had to pull their rivals six feet along to win, but if, after five minutes, no team had managed that feat, the one that had pulled the greatest distance was declared the winner.

Simple, entertaining and one we’d, quite frankly, like to see return.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.
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