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We've all seen the regular Olympic events -- the diving, archery, and volleyball among them -- but you'd be surprised at some of the other sports that pop up at both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
Trampolining was added as an Olympic sport at the 2000 Games in Sydney. This sport includes much more than bouncing up and down. Gymnasts must perform somersaults and other moves in between bounces. While it is a serious sport, the names of some of the moves sound less than serious. How about fliffus or triffus? According to NPR, those are actual trampoline maneuvers.
Table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988 when it made its debut in Calgary. Athletes can compete in both singles and doubles events. This isn’t your basement ping-pong, these athletes are fierce competitors. Still, it looks a little bit strange when you compare the table tennis event to the regular tennis event.
Any event that requires an athlete to wear makeup seems a little odd, but synchronized swimming takes a lot of work. This pair or team water sport was recognized as an Olympic sport in 1984. Much like pairs figure skating, swimmers have to stay in time with the rest of their team and move to the music. Not only are they performing routines that require flexibility and stamina, they have to keep smiling throughout the entire routine. I’m talking big, beauty queen-meets-crazed perky woman smiles. It does take a lot of training and skill to perform the routines.
Shooting is an Olympic event. I’m not talking about archery here; I’m talking about shooting a gun. Fit Sugar points out that shooting has been a part of the Games “since the birth of the modern Olympics, except for a handful of years,” but they question whether it’s still a relevant event. It does require exceptional aim and the strength to deal with the recoil, but is it the same as training for a marathon?
Sailing (or yachting, as it was known until the 1996 Atlanta Games) has been an Olympic event since 1896. It may seem like an odd sport at first, but when you see the way the athletes have to move around the boat to steer, it’s more understandable.
It may seem like a joke, but racewalking is an Olympic event. Men’s racewalking has been in the Games since 1904, though women have only been able to compete since 1992. It’s a long-distance race, so you’re really not qualified to participate even if you’ve beaten the mall-walkers around your favorite shopping center. Plus there’s a technique to it; there’s even a rule that one foot must always be in contact with the ground. If you think this shouldn’t be an event, try to catch the end of the 31-mile race. Those athletes are exhausted.
When you’re watching the Paralympic Games, you may think they’re playing bocce. It’s actually boccia, a similar game for athletes in wheelchairs that was added to the Paralympic Games in 1984. The competitors typically have cerebral palsy and are grouped based on the severity of their disability.
It’s no longer an event, but tug-of-war was an Olympic event from 1900 to 1920. Clubs would compete, which meant that more than one club from each country could enter and win medals. This was the case in 1904, when the United States won all three medals, and in 1908 when British teams swept the medals. Tug of war was removed from the Olympics after the 1920 Antwerp Games, when the teams started brawling. Now that's some heated competition.
Another discontinued Olympics event is croquet. It was introduced for the 1900 Paris Olympics and was never included in the Olympics again. It wasn’t a hit with spectators. Well, it was a hit with the one spectator who attended the event; he traveled all the way from Nice, France, to watch the croquet events. No one else was as enthusiastic; in fact, no one else bothered to show up, so croquet was not included in the Games again.
If you play any of these sports for fun, you probably aren’t good enough to make it to the Olympics. But with proper training and plenty of practice, you could turn your love for one of these events into a trip to the Olympics.