SPORTS

11 Weird Sports That Were Actually In The Olympics

The IOC needs to bring each and every one of these back -- apart from live pigeon shooting.

02/08/2016 6:30 PM AEST | Updated August 4, 2016 02:48

Some seriously strange sports have appeared at the Olympic Games over the years. Tug of war or live pigeon shooting, anyone?

With Rio 2016 kicking off on Friday, The Huffington Post takes a look at some of the weirdest events to have taken place at previous Olympiads.

Warning: Some are definitely not for the faint-hearted!

Check them out here:

  • 1 Live Pigeon Shooting
    Dethan Punalur via Getty Images
    It would have been an animal rights activist's worst nightmare. Almost 300 birds were reportedly killed when the live pigeon shooting event made its only Olympic appearance at the Paris Games in 1900.

    Belgian Leon de Lunden gunned down 21 birds to take the title. But he was unable to repeat his win, as future Games saw the live animals replaced with clay targets.
  • 2 Swimming Obstacle Course
    Hans Wolf via Getty Images
    Paris' muddy River Seine hosted the 200-meter obstacle swimming race for the first and only time at the 1900 Games.

    Swimmers had to clamber over a pole and a row of boats before swimming under another row of vessels. Australia’s Fred Lane took home the gold medal in the event, as well as finishing first in the 200 meters freestyle.
  • 3 Tug Of War
    Great Britain Tug Of War Team by Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Tug of War featured in five modern Olympic Games, from Paris 1900 through to Antwerp 1920 (1916’s Olympiad was cancelled after the outbreak of World War I).

    Teams of eight had five minutes to pull their opponents six feet over a line. If there was no winner after the time limit expired, the team who’d pulled their rivals the furthest would win. 

    Milwaukee Athletics Club represented Team USA and won gold at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri. Pictured here is the Great Britain team taking on Ireland in the London 1908 competition.
  • 4 Long Jump For Horses
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    The long jump is a staple of track and field, while equestrian is one of the more elegant Olympic categories. So how about combining the two?

    IOC bosses did exactly that for the first and only time at the 1900 Games in Paris — when Belgium’s Constant van Langendonck won gold with a 6.10-meter leap atop his horse, Extra Dry.

    The distance may seem pretty impressive, until you recall that Team USA Mike Powell's 1991 men’s world record is, at 8.95 meters, almost 3 meters longer.
  • 5 High Jump For Horses
    Wikipedia/Creative Commons
    Alongside the equestrian long jump, the horse high jump also made its sole appearance during the 1900 Paris Games.

    Two competitors took first place on the podium after geeing up their horses to leap 1.85 meters into the air and over a horizontal pole -- France's Dominique Garderes on Canela (pictured) and Italy's Gian Giorgio Trissino atop Oreste.
  • 6 Plunge For Distance
    Stanislaw Pytel via Getty Images
    Team USA’s William Dickey remains the reigning Olympic champion in the plunge for distance, some 112 years after winning gold at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri.

    That’s because the event was never repeated. Dickey managed to glide below the surface for an astonishing 62 feet and 6 inches after diving into the water.
  • 7 Croquet
    DreamPictures via Getty Images
    The sedate sport of croquet appeared at the Olympics on just one occasion, at Paris in 1900. It's notable for being the first Olympic event in which women took part -- albeit against their male counterparts and not in their own competition.

    Home nation France took gold in all four categories, but the sport was removed from subsequent Olympiads after just one spectator reportedly showed up to watch.
  • 8 Rope Climbing
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Rope climbing featured at five Olympics, from 1896 to 1932. From a seated start, athletes used only their hands to clamber up 49 feet at Athens 1896, and then 25 feet of rope in the later events.

    Greece’s Nikolaus Andriakopoulos (pictured) won the inaugural Olympiad. He was one of just two people to make it all the way to the top that year. 

    At the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, Team USA's George Eyser took the title. His feat was all the more incredible because he had one wooden leg.
  • 9 Tandem Bicycle Sprint
    Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images
    Tandem cycling, which saw two two-men teams racing over 2,000 meters, was a major fixture of the Olympic program from 1908 to 1972.

    It lives on at the Paralympics. Pictured here are Germany’s Ernst Ihbe and Charly Lorenz — who took home the gold medal at Berlin 1936.
  • 10 Standing High Jump
    EMPICS/EMPICS Sport
    The track and field staple at every Olympics from 1900 to 1912 saw competitors seeing how high a bar they could jump over from a standing position.

    Team USA’s Ray Ewry (pictured) was the undisputed master of the discipline, winning gold three times from 1900 to 1908. His best effort saw him clear 1.655 meters at Paris in 1900.

    Ewry, who contracted polio as a youngster and used a wheelchair for much of his childhood, also dominated in the standing long jump and triple jump events -- in which he won a further five gold medals.
  • 11 Underwater Swimming
    Zena Holloway via Getty Images
    Underwater swimming made its one and only appearance at the Olympics in Paris 1900. Competitors swam below the surface of the River Seine for up to 60 meters, gaining two points for each meter they covered and another one for every second they were submerged. France’s Charles DeVandeville won gold with 188.4 points.
Also on HuffPost
More On This Topic
Advertisement

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

Advertisement