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The strangest Olympic sports – and why you might want to try them

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on August 10, 2016


We’re used to seeing swimming, running and soccer at the Olympics, but what about the sports that don’t get so much love in between? We take a look at some of the more unusual sports you’ll see at this year’s Olympic Games, and why you might want to try them yourself.

Race Walking. It looks like competitive power walking – a race over 20 kilometres where competitors can’t go faster than a walk. It’s not just about walking quickly, but a specific technique. Competitors are watched closely to make sure that they have one foot on the ground at all times. It might sound less intense, but race walkers get many of the benefits of running, without the injury risk that a high impact sport like running involves.

Fencing. Who doesn’t love sitting down and watching people effectively swordfight for Olympic gold? It might look a bit odd, due to the protective masks and jackets competitors wear, but it’s actually a highly tactical sport that demands a fair bit of physical agility as well! With its intense stop/start footwork, fencers need to have a great deal of endurance, balance and flexibility. It’s also a workout for the mind, with the mental effort of working out the best way to score against your opponent as important as the physical aspects. Plus, you get to look (and feel) like you’re a knight in a duel.

Trampolining. Trampoline has been an Olympic sport since 2000 in Sydney. It’s a form of gymnastics where acrobats perform flips and somersaults in the air at up to eight metres high. Definitely a must-watch for anyone who grew up practising their flips on the trampoline! And if you think it’s all just a bit of fun, trampolining is great for abdominal core strength and toning, as well as being a great aerobic exercise.

Water polo. Kind of like rugby, but in the pool, water polo at first looks like a really intense game of keepings-off. It’s a contact sport where teams try to outscore their opponents, all while keeping themselves afloat. As you might imagine, that means it’s a super intense workout – the whole body is used to stay upright in the pool as well as actually pass the ball! Being in the water also means that your risk of injury is reasonably low.

And if those aren’t strange enough for you, stay tuned for 2020 in Tokyo, where surfing, skateboarding and climbing have all been approved as Olympic sports.



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