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10 Strange Sports in the Olympics that Were Discontinued

strange Olympic sports

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games have just ended and the winners of various games are celebrated all over the world. The Olympics have been organizing various great as well as strange games since 1896. Some strange games are still in action, but some of the odd games are discontinued. Let’s talk about 10 strange Olympic games that were discontinued.

1. Solo Synchronized Swimming

Solo Synchronized Swimming, the name itself is funny. Swimming in synchronization with oneself is crazy. However, in this sport, participants have to synchronize their swimming with the music. It debuted as an Olympic sport in the 1984 Los Angeles Games but was discontinued after the 1992 Olympic games.

Solo Synchronized Swimming
Kerry Shacklock. Image credit: alchetron

The synchronizing, whether it’s in dance or swimming, always is with a partner or squad. Weirdly, an event named “Solo Synchronized Swimming ” became a part of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. The synchronizing in swimming was with the music.

The game was in one of the categories of synchronized swimming; other categories were duet and eight women. For the solo contestant, it was hard to win against the duet and eight women.

As compared to a team performing perfectly in sync with the music, it was hard to decide how efficiently a single person performed on their own. As a viewer, it looks like a swimmer who is great at the ballet or a ballet dancer who knows great swimming.

However, it received very little respect which led to its discontinuation after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. (1, 2)

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2. Live Pigeon Shooting

Live Pigeon Shooting was unbelievably an Olympic game launched in the 1900s. In this game, participants were supposed to shoot as many pigeons as they could. Participants will get disqualified if they missed two shots in a row. Over 300 pigeons were ultimately killed. This game was dismissed after the protests of animal rights activists.

Live Pigeon Shooting
Leon de Lunden of Belgium won the live pigeon shooting event at the 1900 Olympics in Paris. Image credit: theolympians

Live Pigeon Shooting was the cruelest event in the Olympics history. This game was launched in the 1900 Olympic games. Many birds were released one at a time in front of the shooters, and they had to kill as many birds as they could.

The participant will get disqualified if they failed to kill a bird for two shots. The participant who would shoot the most birds in the sky wins. Unfortunately around 300 birds were killed. The first prize was secured by Leon de Lunden (Belgium) for killing 21 birds.

Live Pigeon Shooting came to halt when animal rights activists started to protest against this event. This was the first and last time when animals were intentionally killed in the Olympics. (1, 2)

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3. Equestrian Vaulting

Equestrian Vaulting is mainly dancing or doing gymnastics on a horse’s back. It debuted as an Olympic game in 1920 and was discontinued after that. Although it was weird, it was fun to watch participants dancing on a horse’s back.

Equestrian Vaulting
Image credit: German Federal Archives via Wikimedia

We have seen dance and gymnastics on every possible platform, but have you seen it on the back of a horse? Interesting, right? Equestrian Vaulting once was in the Olympic games in 1920. It was the only time this unique event was conducted in the Olympics.

This event included four legs. In the first leg, from a standing position, riders had to jump on the horse and then jump back to the ground. The second leg consists of jumping over the horses. In the fourth leg, the rider had to ride with a walking horse.

Only three nations participated: Belgium, France, and Sweden. In which Belgium secured Gold and Bronze whereas France secured Silver. (source)

4. 200-meter Swimming Obstacle Race

This swimming obstacle race is quite crazy to watch. This race was held only once in the 1900 Olympic games. Participants have to face various hurdles during the course like climbing poles, scrambling over a row of boats, and then swimming under the row of boats. I would love to see this game return to the Olympics.

Obstacle Swimming
Frederick Lane, Australian gold medalist swimming champion at the 1900 Olympic Games. Image credit: Olympic.org via Wikimedia

The 200-meter Swimming Obstacle Race was once a part of the 1900 Paris Olympics and was held on the River Seine. This unique and unusual swimming race was a combination of an obstacle race and swimming.

The participants had to face various obstacles during the race. They have to climb over a pole, then climb over some boats, and swim a little more under the boats. 

Frederick Lane of Australia grabbed the gold medal in this race where he was only 13 seconds slower than his time without any obstacles.

He managed to win this race by figuring out that the stern is the most efficient way to get into a boat. However, it will be fun and crazy to watch this sport if it ever returns to the Olympic games. (1, 2)

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5. Skijoring 

Skijoring was first hosted in the 1928 Olympics in Switzerland. In this game, the skiers are towed behind horses without any riders on them. Athletes were pulled by the horses with no hurdles on the course. Although the event was discontinued after 1928, it would be fun to watch this wild winter sport.

Skijoring
Image credit: IOC via Olympics

Skijoring originated from Scandinavia and made its debut in the 1928 Olympic games held in St. Moritz, Switzerland. In this game, participants competed simultaneously.

The participants wore the skis that are attached to the wooden harnesses attached to the horses.

The horses have no riders on them. Well, this is scary! The course of the race has no jumps or hurdles. All three places of this wild winter sport were secured by Swiss athletes. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 Rare Sports Stories That Sound Crazy

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