Solo synchronized swimming:
Oxymoron alert! Yes, this sport features one female swimmer synchronizing with herself. The sport made its debut in the Los Angeles Games in 1984, with U.S. swimmer Tracie Ruiz winning the gold medal. Similar to the group event, a swimmer performs a kind of water ballet. A lonely water ballet. Despite the seemingly misleading title, organisers of the sport say the swimmer is actually in sync with the music. The solo event was discontinued after 1992.
Club Swinging debuted in 1904. The athlete stands erect, holding clubs that resemble bowling pins in each hand. He then twirls and whirls them around. The more complicated the routine, the more points he wins. Historians say the sport was the precursor to rhythmic gymnastic events that use ribbons and hoops. Club Swinging was only in the Olympics twice, ending in 1932.
Once a very competitive Olympic sport, tug of war employs teams that struggle and strain to pull a rope past a certain point. Great Britain actually won the most medals in this event, historians say. Tug-of-war was an Olympic event until 1920.
Live pigeon shooting:
The 1900 Olympics in Paris had the great distinction of being the first Games where women competed. It also wore the ignoble badge for this sport, where athletes aimed to bring down as many pigeons as possible. Nearly 300 birds were slain, historians say, leaving a bloody, feathery mess. The winner shot down 21 pigeons.
The 1900 Games in Paris was the only time pigeon killing was featured in the Olympics.
Swimming obstacle course:
As strange as this sport may seem, the obstacles swimmers had to overcome are even more unusual. In the 1900 Games in Paris, swimmers crawled over boats, swam under them and climbed a pole, all the while swimming 200 meters in the Seine.
Ok, think fencing. Now take away the saber and replace it with a cane. You know, the walking stick type of thing? Voila, now you have the French martial art La Canne, that debuted at the 1924 Olympics.
Yes, the activity that made you feel like a weakling in your physical education class debuted as an Olympic sport in 1896. Just like in your gym class, climbers are timed to see how quickly they can shimmy up a braided rope.
But unlike your classmates, these athletes didn’t run out of steam before reaching the top. After 1932, the Olympics thankfully left rope climbing behind.