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The Odd-lympics: Strangest Olympic sports from over the years with Mike Polk Jr.

There’s been no shortage of peculiar events since the modern Olympics began. Here are some of the strangest.

CLEVELAND — Hey folks, sorry, you caught me in the middle of my training. I figure it’s never too early to start warming up my B-Boy skills for the 2024 games when Breakdancing is being added as an official Olympic sport. 

That might seem odd to you, but there’s been no shortage of peculiar events since the modern Olympics began. We still have a few. Speed-walking will never not be hilarious to me, what are they DOING?!, and Dressage is just a fancy way of saying horse-dancing. But some odd Olympic sports haven’t been so fortunate and were lost to the sands of time. Here are some that tickled my fancy.

Obstacle Swimming

Let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to swim fast when there’s nothing in your way. Competitors in this one-time event were not granted such luxury as they were forced to swim under and climb over various obstructions like metal poles and scattered row boats in order to claim victory. Turns out that showboat Mikey Phelps had it easy.


This one rules. Debuting in Switzerland in 1928, competitors donned skis and raced each other on a frozen lake while being dragged by horses. It sounds potentially perilous for everyone involved and I would like to watch it. 

Live Pigeon Shooting

Gun toting’ Olympians managed to shoot and kill more than 300 pigeons during this grisly, one time affair at the Paris games in 1900. Must have been a fun one for the kids in the crowd. 

Solo-Synchronized Swimming

Watching 2 world class swimmers perform in perfect synchronicity with each other is very impressive but if you remove one of those people to most of us it just becomes a crazy person dancing alone in a swimming pool. Which is probably why this odd event with an oxymoronic title ceased to be after the 1992 games. Just go find a friend to water dance with.


That’s right, someone was once awarded a gold medal for being the very best at everyone’s least favorite day in gym class.


This one-time event did have a few downsides, like the fact that it required no skill and that since it took place at sea, no spectators could actually witness what was going on, but other than THAT it was still really bad.

Club Dancing

It really happened and it was seriously just this. They didn’t even juggle them! Even clowns try harder!

La Canne

Finally!  An international competition where athletes try to land blows on each other with big ol’ sticks. This was pretty much just fencing but less pointy.

Plunging for Distance

This event required competitors to dive from a stationary position, then glide underwater without making any additional movements, AKA a “no-splash cannonball”. Critics complained that the sport required no athleticism and greatly favored heavier Olympians. The world just wasn’t ready.

Town Planning 

Did you know that there was once an "Arts" portion of the Olympic games that included competitions in everything from literature to sculpture to even included the profoundly unathletic skill of designing architecturally efficient city plans. I’m sure the crowd went wild for this one. “Oh yeah! That’s some good use of street lighting!  Woo! Nice gazebo placement!”

The lesson here of course is to enjoy your favorite odd Olympic events now while you still can, because some one day they might be removed for becoming too weird by contemporary standards, so we must cherish them while they’re still here. (Show more dressage)

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