Tug of War at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium (source: Twitter)

7 sporting events discontinued at the Olympics

Hrishikesh Damodar
ANALYST

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 will feature sport climbing for the first time. Since the inaugural edition in 1896, the Olympics has seen many sporting disciplines added, such as athletics, swimming, road cycling, track cycling, wrestling, shooting, and weightlifting.

As time went on, even more disciplines found their way into the quadrennial event, such as hockey, judo, surfing, table tennis, badminton, and rugby, among others. Along the way, some of them had to be withdrawn entirely while others made a comeback later.

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This was either because they no longer fit the Olympic criteria or lacked popularity at the Summer Games.

The Olympics is the biggest quadrennial event in the world, where thousands of athletes from all over the globe compete in different sporting events to win a prized medal.


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List of sporting events that were discontinued at the Olympics

#1 Men's 200m obstacle swimming

Featuring only at the 1900 Paris Olympics, the men's 200m obstacle event saw swimmers facing challenges such as tumble turns and diving through the block.

Participants had to climb over a pole, jump on a boat, then dive under another boat before the finish. This was an amalgamation of a swimming event and an obstacle course and posed a significant challenge. Frederick Lane of Australia won the gold medal by clocking a time of 2:38.40s. He also won gold in the 200m freestyle at the same event.

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#2 Tug of war

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Tug of war featured as an Olympic sport five times, in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. The event was originally recognized as athletics by the International Olympic Committee. Later, the event was given its own category by the committee.

Tug of war is still popular today outside the Olympics. It pits two eight-member teams against each other in a test of strength. They pull on opposite ends of a rope, with the winner decided by which side manages to bring the rope a certain distance in one direction against the force of the opposing team.

Initially, each side was made up of five members, which was later increased to eight.

Great Britain won the tug of war twice, in 1908 and 1920, while the United States of America and Sweden won in 1904 and 1912 respectively. A mixed team won in 1900.


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#3 100m for sailor

100m for sailor featured only in the inaugural edition of the Olympics in 1896. As the name implies, it was a swimming event eligible for sailors. Nine competitors from the Greek Royal Navy were expected to participate in the 1896 Olympics. However, only three appeared at the event.

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The International Olympic Committee observed that sailor swimmers were drowsier compared to their counterparts in the open category, who could cover the 100m distance in almost half the time. It's no wonder, then, that the IOC decided to discontinue the men's 100m for sailor event.


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#4 Individual competition with army rifle

Carl Osburn of the USA

Individual competition with army rifle was an official Olympic sport in the 1896, 1900, and 1904 Olympics. At the 1896 Athens Olympics, only the 200m air rifle shooting event was featured, wherein host Greece bagged the gold medal after shooting a perfect 40 out of 40.

In 1900, the Paris Olympic Committee decided to introduce a 300m air rifle three positions event. This included standing, kneeling, and prone positions. In this event, Emil Kellenberger of Switzerland won the gold medal.

The 300m air rifle three positions event was discontinued after the 1972 Olympics. Currently, it only features in the ISSF World Cup.


Also read: Know your Olympics - St. Louis Olympics 1904

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#5 Weightlifting all-around dumbbell

Weightlifter performing Dumbell lifts (source: Pinterest)

Weightlifting all-around dumbbell featured only at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, USA. It was categorized as one of the weightlifting events at the third Summer Games.

The competitors lifted heavy dumbells as part of completing a series of heavy dumbell lifts over a two-day period. Weightlifters had to do five instructed lifts on Day 1, four on Day 2, followed by a freestyle lift to end the competition.

A combined score after a total of nine lifts determined the gold medal winner. USA's Oscar Osthoff emerged as the champion while compatriots Frederick Winters and Frank Kugler bagged silver and bronze medals respectively.


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#6 Cesta Punta

Cesta Punta was an official Olympic sport at the 1900 Paris Summer Games. Bearing similarities to squash, it's a variation of the Basque Pelota game and uses a ball about as tough as a golf ball.

After a player throws the ball against the court wall, his opponent has to catch it after the first bounce. Should he fail to do so, the player who threw the ball gets a point.

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Spaniards Francisco Villota and José De Amézola won the gold medal at the 1900 Olympics. Cesta Punta featured in the 1924, 1968, and 1992 Olympics but only as a demonstration sport.


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#7 Horse long jump and high jump

Equestrian High Jump at the 1900 Olympics (Wikipedia)

The equestrian high jump and long jump events only featured at the 1900 Paris Olympics. In the high jump, an equestrian had to achieve a height of 1.85 meters and for the long jump, it was 6.10 meters.

Around 19 competitors took part in the high jump event and the long jump saw 17 entrants. Initially, the distance for the long jump was 4.5m but it was later increased by 40 cm.

Belgium's Constant van Langhendonck won the long jump event while Dominique Gardere of France won the high jump event.


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Edited by Rohit Mishra
 
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