Every two years, athletes from all over the world come together to compete in some of the most exciting sporting events in history. The Olympic Games have been home to some incredible accomplishments over the years.
Due to the nature of athletic trends and popularity—or lack thereof—some Olympic events don’t stand the test of time and have to be nixed from the global competition. Let’s have a look at the top 5 strangest Olympic events that were discontinued shortly after they made their debut.
Believe it or not, tug-of-war wasn’t discovered by your gym teacher in elementary school. It’s actually been around since the Ancient Olympics, which was first held in 500BC. The event was part of the Olympic Games from 1900-1920 and was originally included in the track & field athletics program.
The tug-of-war contest was between two teams of eight that required one team to pull the other a total distance of six feet. If neither team was able to accomplish this after five minutes, the team that dragged its opponent the furthest was crowned the victor.
Rope climbing was part of the gymnastics program in 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924 and 1932. Competitors would climb a suspended vertical rope from a seated position while only using their hands. Whoever reached the top of the rope the fastest was awarded the victory.
The rope length in 1986 was between 14 and 15 meters long and the style in which an athlete scaled the rope was factored into the scoring. After only two athletes were able to reach the top, the length of the rope was shortened to around 7 or 8 meters.
Similar to the modern-day snatch maneuver, the one-handed weightlifting event was a part of the Olympic Games in 1896, 1904 and 1906. Only men were allowed to participate. As the name suggests, contestants were only allowed to use one hand to lift the extended dumbbell.
Participants were given three attempts to lift the weight with each hand. Whoever had the highest combined score from each hand was the winner. The top three contestants would then receive three more attempts to determine the Olympic champion.
Although croquet isn’t necessarily a strange sporting event, it doesn’t appear to have translated well as a spectator sport. In fact, there was only one croquet competition in Olympic Games history in 1900. Athletes from France were awarded all medals, none of which included the three women who were competing.
In what comes as no surprise, there was only a single spectator—an Englishman from Nice who had traveled to Paris specifically to watch the croquet competition.
The dueling pistol event was held in 1906 at the Intercalated Games—a sporting competition considered by many to be an Olympic Games although the IOC never recognized it as such. This event required competitors to shoot at human silhouettes that had a bull’s eye attached to a dummy’s chest.
The shooters would hold their loaded gun by their side and wait for the range officer’s commands. He would shout “fire” before counting to three. The shooter had to fire his gun at that target before the officer reached three.