The Weirdest Sporting Events that Have Ever Graced the Olympic Games

The first Olympic games were held in Heracles, and the first champion in history was a naked runner, Corebus. Much has changed since then, but the tradition of the Olympic games lives on to this day. Coubertin was the one who managed to revive them, and for this every talented athlete and sports fan thanks him. This year’s Winter Olympics have seen many surprises, some good, and not so good. We have witnessed Lizzy Yarnold’s triumph, Olga Graf’s unintentional strip and the Swan Song of Russia’s Most Beloved Figure-Skater, Evgeni Plushenko among many other. There are many mainstream sports that are regularly featured during the Olympic games, but there are also some lesser known ones that you might want to tune in to this year. (if they are still available)

1. Air Pistol/Air Riffle Event

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As you can probably guess, this is a shooting event, but did you know that it is actually an Olympic event? Who can blame organizers for considering a shooting sport, especially since it takes so much skill and training to become a good marksman, but air pistols and air riffles? It sounds a bit strange. You would expect a bow and arrow, or maybe live ammunition, but not these funny looking pistols that my neighbors play with outside. Maybe they should give stuffed animals instead of gold medals.

2. Eventing and Dressage

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Eventing and Dressage are both Olympic events that that were invented while extremely rich horse owners share expensive cigars. While dressage and jumping are already horse events, eventing was invented for the Olympics. It basically begins with dressage, then moves into show jumping, cross-country riding and jumping. Of course, when someone wins the horse won’t be the one standing on the podium, and he won’t receive a gold medal. It sounds like a waste of sporting events if you ask us.

3. Solo Synchronized Swimming

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Yes, you heard correctly: solo synchronized swimming. Although it sounds like an oxymoron, the single swimmer apparently has to synchronize with herself, and the music. Like the group event, with which you are probably already familiar, the competitor has to dance as gracefully as possible in order to win.

4. Live Pigeon Shooting

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Here’s another example of misused animals in the Olympics games. It was at the 1900 Paris Olympics that the first women competed. It was also in this year that a new event was accepted as a certified Olympic event: pigeon shooting. The aim was to bring down as many birds as possible. Historians say that 300 birds were slain, and left a bloody, feathery mess behind them. Hopefully, this event will not be repeated ever again. The 1900 Olympics were actually the only time that the event was held.

5. Trampoline

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Trampoline jumping sounds like something that you’d do in the backyard with your 12-year old friends. Irrespective of this fact, the “sport” is actually an Olympic event which debuted in 2000. Gymnasts have to jump as high as possible, flip and somersault to score as many points as possible with the jury.

“Precise technique and perfect body control are vital for success, with judges delivering marks for difficulty, execution and time of flight, minus penalties,” (Olympic Officials)

6. Racewalking

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Racewalking is without a shadow of a doubt the most hilarious sporting events from the Olympics, that elicits flurries of giggles. As funny as it may sound, it has been an official event since 1904. The point is to race, without running. To ensure that athletes respect this rule, they have to keep one foot on the ground at all time. The entire event transforms into a goofy sporty-catwalk. Ready, set, sashay!

Interesting Facts About the History of Tennis and the U.S. Open

There are many sports in this world, but there are not many as popular as tennis. It is considered the sport of royals, and millions of fans watch the international competitions at the edge of their seats every year. As far as game-play goes, tennis is pretty straightforward. In a single match, opponents hit the ball from one side of the court to another in an attempt to evade return from the other side.

Recommended Read : 8 Overly Epic Sports Ads Campaigns 

In double matches, there are two players on each side of the field, but the goal remains the same. Even if game-play sounds kind of dull, the sport itself is extremely exciting. It also has an interesting history that you might not know about. You might be shocked to find out how the sport evolved and became what it is today. Here are some fascinating things regarding the U.S. Open, and the history of tennis.

U.S. Open

1. The Sport Had A Rocky Start

When people think about a sport as popular as tennis, they can only think that it can be traced to an undeniable beginning. This is not the case for tennis. Although it has become so deeply ingrained in the modern fabric of sports, its origins are still a mystery. There are actually two theories behind it. Some say that it all began in Egypt, although there is little evidence to support this claim. Supporters of this claim say that tennis comes from the city of Tinnis. They also believe that the world racquet comes from the Arabian one, rahat, which means hand. The second theory is that tennis was invented by French monastery monks who played a rudimentary version of it with their hands and a rope net.

2. The Tennis Court Was Adopted from the Croquet Ones

When you think about a tennis court, you can only think that it was created especially for this game. It is so perfect for this game that it couldn’t possibly be adapted from another sport. Wrong again! The tennis court was actually adopted from the croquet one. During the 1850s when tennis finally started to resemble its modern day version, croquet was extremely popular, so many tennis players adapted croquet courts to suite their needs.

U.S. Open

3. Tennis Was (and still is) a Game of Hands

If you ever took tennis classes you have probably been asked to play with your hands, by the instructor. As crazy as it may sound, it is one of the best ways to learn how to play. In the past, people also used hands instead of rackets. Only when it became to painful to bear was the racket invented.

Interesting Facts About the U.S. Open

Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the oldest forms of grand slams in the world. They have been the witness of many incredible plays and achievements. Here are a few interesting things that you probably didn’t know about the U.S. Open:

U.S. Open

  1. Tennis players have always dominated the field when the played on home soil, but it is the United States that seems to have dominated the charts. Since its inception in 1881, American players have not appeared in the singles finals on only six occasions.

  2. In 1973 a new prize pool and trophy were picked for the U.S. Open. Since then, neither of them have changed. The trophy is designed by Tiffany and Co..

  3. You may already know this fact, but we will present it nonetheless. Tennis is the single richest sporting event in the world, and the U.S. Open has the largest single prize pool. Rafael Nadal took home 2.8$ million after winning the 2011 competition.

  4. A strange thing happened during the 1977 U.S. Open. John McEnroe was playing Eddie Dibbs in a third-round match, when the game was halted by commotion in the crowd. It appeared that someone had been shot. The game quickly resumed, and McEnroe won. It was later discovered that a fans was actually shot in the leg by a stray bullet from the Queen’s Streets.

  5. Even if the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at the Flushing Meadow is the largest tennis stadia in the world, it is not the best. Unlike its counterparts, the main court lacks a roof, and when you think about the threat of hurricanes, it might not sound like such a good idea to book a full house for the games.

Five Insane Sports that Actually Exist

If they aren’t nuts about football, then they live for basketball. If neither is something they enjoy, then they love tennis or hockey. The point is that every person on this planet has a sport that he/she is crazy about, and to be perfectly honest, we have lost their count. There seems to be a sport for everything on this planet. Some are strange, others completely deranged. There are also a select few which are extremely dangerous. Adrenaline junkies will always seek the thrill that sky diving, climbing rocks without cords or chasing bulls can give, but these aren’t the only extreme sports you will hear about. This list is dedicated to the strangest, most insane sports (if you can call them that) in the World.

1. Ferret Legging

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This is without a doubt one of the strangest insane sports that we have ever heard of. It has actually become a national contest a few years ago. The game became popular with coal miners from Yorkshire, England in the 70s. Nowadays, if you see men acting funny at Celtic fests, you can safely assume that they have a ferret in their pants. How is it played? You basically have to tie your pants to the ankles, insert the ferret and seal the upper part with a belt. Participants are not allowed to wear underwear, and ferrets have to have teeth. Whoever lasts the longest, wins. The first thing that comes to mind is that the confused ferret will take a bite out of the precious jewels, but apparently these creatures love confined spaces. We just hope the poor animal will emerge emotionally unscathed after this experience.

Interesting Fact: The Record for the longest time was 5 hours.

2. Buzkashi

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Buzkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and other unpronounceable Central Asian nations, is not only strange, but it is also cruel, and definitely worthy of an insane sports position.The goal is to snatch a dead goat from the other players and landing it on a circular goal line while riding a horse. In a way it is similar to polo, only it uses dead goats instead of sticks and balls. Nevertheless, it still has the violence, kicking and bashing that we have become used to when watching polo. It was recently adopted in America, but instead of using goats, players now have to snatch dummies.

Interesting Fact: Buzkashi games can last several days.

3. Eukonkanto (Wife Carrying)

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Here’s another strange one. It appeared a few decades ago in Finald, as a joke. Eukonkanto is the perfect example of insane sports for couples, because it literally means carrying your wife on your back and racing with others on obstacle courses. Truth be told, you don’t necessarily have to care your wife. It can be a friend’s wife, or just an acquaintance. The obstacle course consists of a 250-meter track with two jumps and a water trap. If you drop the wife, you receive a 15-second penalty, and probably a good beating at home.

4. Extreme Ironing

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Who said that only women know how to iron has never seen an Extreme Ironing match. Extreme ironing is a game that talks about ironing in the most unpredictable situations. Competitors have ironed on the top of Everest, while surfing and even while parachuting from the edge of a cliff. It may not have become an Olympic event yet but people actually gather and go places to see how enthusiasts of this sport iron.

5. Worm Charming

worms01Before you laugh, you should know that Worm Charming is a legitimate sport in the United Kingdom. In addition to this, the sport is so loved by people that it actually turned into a national event that is held in Cheshire every years. The rules of the game are very simple. You get a patch of land and you have to bring out as many worms as possible in 30 minutes.  

Evgeni Plushenko’s Swan Song Secures Gold Medal for Russia at Sochi

If you ask Russians who their favorite athlete is, you will be amazed. It’s not a football player, not even a tennis player. It is Evgeni Plushenko, figure skating living legend, and without a doubt the most formidable ice skater in the history of this sport. Russia’s most beloved single skater, the silver medalist from 2002 and 2010, and the gold medalist in 2006′s Olympics, has come back, for one last try during the Winter Olympics, in 2014. Considering that he is 31 years old, we can safely say that he is approaching the Twilight of his career, and he will never participate in a figure skating competition, let alone any Olympics in the future.

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As if age alone were not already an important factor, Yevgeny Plushenko has also suffered thirteen major spinal surgeries (for the spine and ankles), but still did all he could, to attend the Games in Sochi, where he fell flat on his back, in front of the audience (which also included President Vladimir Putin). People from the crowd may not have noticed, but his trainer, Alexei Mishin knew, that as he froze, the pain become unbearable. His wife also stated, that one more fall would break him forever.

Remembering Evgeni Plushenko at his Best:

The fact that Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the competition, after being injured, was considered a blow to the national Pride of Russia, but even if this is the case, this formidable figure skater’s last dance was one to remember. Let’s take a look at some of his most important achievements:

  • Evgeni Plushenko is without a doubt the greatest figure skater alive at the moment. He is a three-time World Champion, he managed to take the Gold medal in the Men’s Singles in 2006, in Torino, and the silver in 2010, in Vancouver. In spite of his injuries, he decided to skate one more time, and helped the Russian Team win the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.
  • How could anyone forget his fiery performance of Tom Jones’s Sex Bomb? Especially since it was followed by a great rendition of Ginuwine’s Pony? 
  • He may be 31 years old, which is considered very old in the world of figure skating, but Plushenko is still at his peak. His personal best performance for free skate was achieve in 2012, and his best short performance was achieved in Sochi during the team proceedings.

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Plushenko’s last Hurrah Has Russia on Its Feet 

Despite the fact that his back was held together with screws, or that he has undergone hernia and knee operations since 2010, Russia’s favorite athlete performed masterfully during the Sochi 2014 Olympics. This was his Swan song. Evgeni actually declared that he was planning to go out in style, but he got injured during his program. When it was his time to perform the free program, he entered the ring, hold both hands to the crowd as if to say he was sorry, took a small bow, and withdrew. This meant that Russia would have no finisher in the event.

A while later, Plushenko finished second at the Russian national Championship, and didn’t appear to be heading to Sochi anytime soon. As a matter of fact he was added to the team roster later, after performing a trial run in front of federation officials. We don’t know what he did that day, but it definitely impressed officials. In the end, their decision paid off, because Evgeni Plushenko finished second in the team short program, and first in the free skate program, thus managing to secure the gold medal for the Russian team.

“I try, I try, I try and today in warm-up I did triple loop, triple lutz and the first triple axel, I step out and I feel some pain in my neck. Second triple axel was terrible jump. I didn’t feel my legs after first one. I can’t skate, of course. I feel sorry for my fans and I feel sorry for everybody. I tried til the end. … I almost cried there, it’s hard, believe me. This is end of my career, but I try to make best. I try to skate individual skating but it’s problem. … Message [to fans] is I try my best and I try to go til the end but sometimes happens.” (Evgeni Plushenko – Blog.Zap2it)

The A-Z Guide to Jewish Grand Slam Champions

By David Goodman

It was 1998 and I was working for USTA/Eastern as their executive director. Former Eastern junior Justin Gimelstob, a Jewish fella like me, had just won his second straight Grand Slam mixed doubles title with Venus Williams. I said to myself, “Self, how many other Jews have won Grand Slam titles?”

I had to know.

Grand Slam champion Justin Gimelstob

Grand Slam champion Justin Gimelstob

The first players to make my list were fairly easy. Dick Savitt won the 1951 Wimbledon singles title. Ilana Kloss, who I knew as CEO of World TeamTennis, won the 1976 doubles title with Linky Boshoff (the only Linky to ever win a Grand Slam title). Angela Buxton won the 1956 French and Wimbledon doubles titles with the great Althea Gibson. That’s right, an African American and a Jew, playing together because no one else wanted them as partners. “Leben ahf dein kop!” my grandmother would say (“well done!”).

Grand Slam Champion Eliot Teltscher

Grand Slam Champion Eliot Teltscher

After a little digging, I learned that 1980 Australian Open champion Brian Teacher enjoys lox on his bagels, 1983 French Open mixed doubles champ Eliot Teltscher (with Barbara Jordan) is no stranger to a yarmulke, and two-time doubles champ Jim Grabb (‘89 French Open with Richey Reneberg and ‘92 U.S. Open with Patrick McEnroe) doesn’t sweat, he shvitzes.

Dr. Paul Roetert, then the head of sport science at the USTA, heard about my budding kosher list and told me that his fellow Dutchman Tom Okker, winner of the 1973 French Open doubles title with John Newcombe and the 1976 U.S. Open doubles title with Marty Riessen, was Jewish. In fact, I later learned that Tom often had troubles against Romanian Ilie Nastase, who would whisper anti-Semitic remarks when passing by on changeovers. That shmeggegie sure had chutzpah.

Back in ‘98 I looked up past winners of Grand Slam events and came by Brian Gottfried, who I had met once or twice in his role as ATP President. He’s gotta be Jewish, I thought. His name is Gottfried, for crying out loud. So I called him. I left what had to be one of the strangest messages he’s ever received. I actually asked him what he likes to do when the Jewish high holidays come around. To Brian’s credit, he called back and told me he enjoys spending the holidays with his family and typically goes to the synagogue. Bingo! Another one down.

I honestly don’t remember when Vic Seixas came to my attention, but no matter, I had missed the greatest Jewish tennis player of all time, not to mention one of the greatest mixed doubles players ever. The Philadelphia native won eight mixed doubles titles (seven with Doris Hart), five doubles titles (four with Tony Trabert), as well as singles championships at Wimbledon in 1953 and Forest Hills in 1954. Vic still shleps from his home in California to attend various tennis events around the country. If you see him, give my best to the lovely and talented alter kocker!

So, for the time being my list was done. Until recently. Something told me to dust off the list (or clean the spots off my monitor) and see if any of My People had triumphed in recent years. And lo and behold, the land of milk and honey, the Jewish state itself, the only country in the Middle East without oil, came through. Meet Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.

Grand Slam duo Andy Ram & Jonathan Erlich

Grand Slam duo Andy Ram & Jonathan Erlich

Erlich and Ram won the 2008 Australian Open doubles title, and Ram also has the ‘06 Wimbledon mixed (with Vera Zvonareva) and ‘07 French Open mixed (with Nathalie Dechy) doubles titles on his shelf. But don’t worry, Shlomo Glickstein, in my mind you’re still the pride of Israeli sports. (In fact, in 1985 Shlomo was one French Open doubles win from making the list himself.)

So that was all, I thought. There were names on the Grand Slam winners lists that sounded good to me. American Bob Falkenburg, Czech Jiri Javorsky and American Marion Zinderstein (Zinderstein? She’s gotta be Jewish!), but I just can’t prove their Hebrewness.

Miriam Hall sounded Jewish, I thought, so I googled her, just as I did the others. There was nothing on the Internet to lead me to believe she was a member of The Tribe, but I did find her 1914 book, Tennis For Girls. Perhaps I’ll get it for my daughters, who will learn that “the use of the round garter is worse than foolish – it is often dangerous, leading to the formation of varicose veins.” Better yet, Miss Hall advised that “… the skirt should be wide enough to permit a broad lunge…”

On second thought, perhaps my kids aren’t old enough for such a detailed how-to book.

Alas, my search brought me to Hungarian Zsuzsa (Suzy) Kormoczy, winner of the 1958 French singles championships. I had found the athlete the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame calls the first and only Jewish woman to win a Grand Slam singles event.

Enter controversy. According to Morris Weiner (pronounced Weener), who wrote an article called “Jews in Sports” in the August 23, 1937 edition of The Jewish Record, Helen Jacobs’ father was Jewish. You know Helen. She owns nine Grand Slam titles, five of which are singles championships (1932-1935 U.S. Championships and 1936 Wimbledon). And while any Rabbi worth his or her tallis would probably argue that the mom had to be Jewish for it to count, I’m with Morris Weiner. Call me a holiday Jew, but Helen is on my list. Besides, according to The Jewish Record’s Weiner (there, I said it), Helen was the first woman to popularize man-tailored shorts as on-court attire. And her 1997 obituary says she is one of only five women to achieve the rank of Commander in the Navy. Happy Hanukkah, Commander Helen.

So, by my count there are 14 Jewish Grand Slam champions who have won a combined 44 Grand Slam titles. And perhaps there are more. Alfred Codman (1900 U.S. Singles Championships)? Helen Chapman (1903 U.S. Singles Championships)? Marion Zinderstein has to be Jewish, don’t you think? The work of a Jewish Grand Slam tennis historian never ends.

Oy vey.

David Goodman has worked in the tennis industry for 20 years. He was executive director of USTA/Eastern, Inc., co-founder and CEO of The Tennis Network, executive director of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, and Vice President of Communications at Advanta Corp. He has been a World TeamTennis announcer since 2002, and is on the USTA Middle States Board of Directors. If he enters the US Open qualifying tournament in New Jersey later this month, he figures he’ll have to win about 20 matches in order to become the 15th Jewish Grand Slam champion.

Jewish Grand Slam Tournament Winners

Buxton, Angela:
1956 French Championships Women’s Doubles (Althea Gibson) | 1956 Wimbledon Women’s Doubles (Althea Gibson)

Grand Slam champion Angela Buxton

Grand Slam champion Angela Buxton

Erlich, Jonathan:
2008 Australian Open Men’s Doubles (Andy Ram)

Gimelstob, Justin:
1998 Australian Open Mixed Doubles (Venus Williams) | 1998 French Open Mixed Doubles (Venus Williams)

Gottfried, Brian:
1975 French Open Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez) | 1976 Wimbledon Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez) | 1977 French Open Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)

Grabb, Jim:
1989 French Open Men’s Doubles (Richey Reneberg) | 1992 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles (Patrick McEnroe)

Jacobs, Helen:
1932 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships | 1932 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke) | 1933 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships | 1934 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships | 1934 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke) | 1934 U.S. Mixed Championships (George M. Lott, Jr.) | 1935 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships | 1935 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke) | 1936 Wimbledon Women’s Singles

Kloss, Ilana:
1976 U.S. Open Women’s Doubles (Linky Boshoff)

Kormoczy, Suzy:
1958 French Singles Championships

Okker, Tom:
1973 French Open Men’s Doubles (John Newcombe) | 1976 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles (Marty Riessen)

Ram, Andy:
2006 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Vera Zvonareva) | 2007 French Open Mixed Doubles (Nathalie Dechy) | 2008 Australian Open Men’s Doubles (Jonathan Erlich)

Savitt, Dick:
1951 Wimbledon Men’s Singles

Grand Slam Champion Vic Seixas

Grand Slam Champion Vic Seixas

Seixas, Vic:
1952 U.S. Championships Men’s Doubles (Mervyn Rose) | 1953 Wimbledon Men’s Singles | 1953 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart) | 1953 French Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart) | 1953 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubes (Doris Hart) | 1954 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart) | 1954 U.S. Men’s Championships | 1954 U.S. Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert) | 1954 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart) | 1954 French Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert) | 1955 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart) | 1955 Australian Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert) | 1955 French Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert) | 1955 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart) | 1956 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Shirley Fry)

Teacher, Brian:
1980 Australian Open Singles

Teltscher, Eliot:
1983 French Open Mixed Doubles (Barbara Jordan)