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Weird Olympic sports of yesteryear we want to see revived

From tug-of-war to equestrian vaulting, here are a few Olympic sports of the past we want to see revived.

The modern Olympics have been held for 120 years, and their ancient predecessor dates to 776 BC. As you might expect, the sports contested at the Olympics have changed a lot over the years. 

Just as golf reappeared in 2016 and skateboarding will debut as an Olympic event at Tokyo 2020, some sports that were once in vogue fell out of fashion and were cast aside by the Olympics.

While some of the discontinued sports are just odd race distances like the 60-meter dash, others are more interesting events like the 12-hour cycling race or the plunge for distance.

Extra Mustard has ranked a few of the most unusual Summer Olympic events in order of how much we would like to see each make a return to the quadrennial competition.

9. Plunge for Distance (1904)

This sport involved diving into a pool and floating motionless for up to 60 seconds, which is hilarious and probably a fun game to play with your friends, but does not make for great spectating. No one can ever take William Dickey’s gold medal away from him though.

8. The Arts (1912-1948)

If you are reading this you are probably not an Olympic-caliber athlete, but for an early stretch of the games that didn't preclude you from participating. The “Pentathlon of the Muses” awarded medals for literature, architecture, sculpture, music and painting. Walter Winans holds the distinction of the Olympics' most well-rounded competitor, as he holds gold medals in double-shot running deer competition and in sculpture for his work “An American Trotter.” As wonderful as the arts are, watching someone make revisions to a blueprint for three weeks isn't too exciting.

7. Pole Archery (1920)


This sport involves hanging bird shaped targets from pole and firing arrows at them, which actually sounds kind of interesting, but it loses points because the only competitors came from Belgium, making the team events very, very boring.

6. Figure Skating (1908, 1920)

Nothing says summer like hitting your local ice rink and nailing some double Salchows, right? Figure skating made a pair of appearances in the summer games before the advent of the Winter Olympics. While it would be fun to watch the athletes attempt their routines as the ice melted, it would probably also result in the kind of gruesome injuries we generally try to avoid.

5. Equestrian Vaulting (1920)


Jumping over a pole is great, but not as great as jumping over a horse, which is exactly what athletes did in equestrian vaulting, along with jumping onto a horse from each side. The event continues today in non-Olympics competition, but the Games have more than enough horse stuff so this one can stay discontinued.

4. Basque Pelota (1900)

Basque Pelota is known as the fastest sport in the world, with the ball traveling around 125 mph. Based on that alone it should return to the Olympics. 

3. Pankration (776 BC–393 AD)

Remember when the UFC just started and it was pretty much just two guys fighting with little to no rules? Well Pankration is like that, but with even lighter on the rules. When the games were restarted in the 1890s the event was left on the cutting room floor, which is a shame.

2. Tug-of-War (1900-1920)


Do you really need me to explain tug-of-war or why it should be in the Olympics again? This is like the 100m dash of strength and no one in his/her right mind would miss a single second of this event.

1. Rope Climb (1896, 1904-1906, 1924, 1932)

Rope Climbing first showed up at the Olympics as a gymnastics event that included a style element, but it evolved into a flat-out race up a 25-foot rope. Watching eight athletes speed up a rope is exactly what the Olympics are all about.