Tug-of-war, obstacle courses, live pigeon shooting: Reliving quirky sports in Olympic history
If you've been swimming, you probably tried it at least once: Dive into the water and see how far you can get without taking a stroke. Coast past 19 meters (62 feet) and you could have earned a gold medal at the 1904 Olympics.
The tug-of-war you played with friends at school? That could have been worth a podium spot at six Games. A gym class favorite like the rope climb and a game that looked like hopscotch — the standing hop, step, jump — also were once medal events.
Long before the corporate sponsorships and billion-dollar(euro) television deals, the Olympic Games were more like games kids might play in the backyard. Some of the events may seem a bit strange — club swinging, anyone? — but there was certainly a fun factor to the early days of the Olympics.
"It's was a different thing, kind of catch as catch can, particularly the
very early days before it got formalized," said David Wallechinsky, vice
president of the International Society of Olympic Historians."Eventually,
as it got bigger, they had to take it a lot more serious."
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