When we think of the summer Olympics, our minds immediately wander to track and field, cycling, swimming, tennis or soccer. There are several sports that are longstanding Olympic challenges but haven’t really caught the public’s eye as, say, soccer has. The reasons are countless. Those reasons include the sport receiving little press, having lesser entertainment value, or just a smaller fan base. Whatever the reason, they frankly haven’t reached the notoriety that they deserve. Since the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, we thought a walk-through of the lesser-known sports would come just in handy. Perhaps it will raise your interest and inspire you to watch them more attentively in two years’ time.
Of course, there are many other summer Olympics sports that you might not have known about, but we will be presenting them in another list.
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3. Rhythmic Gymnastics
This discipline involves gymnasts performing short routines as a team of 5 or as individual athletes with either one or two pieces of apparatus. The possible apparatuses are: ball, clubs, ribbon, hoop, rope and Free (this means that no apparatus is used). During team routines there is an allowance of 2 types of apparatuses at a time (and the gymnasts are permitted to exchange the apparatus with their team members during their appearance), in individual performances, there is just one apparatus used at a time. This sport combines elements of gymnastics, ballet and dance as well as apparatus excellence in order to create a complete sport of elegance, poise, control and talent. The winners are determined with the help of a panel of judges who note the contestants according to grades of difficulty, balance of jumps, pirouettes, pivots and other key elements.
Trampolining is another of the underdog sports at the Olympic Games. It involves athletes having to perform acrobatics while jumping on a trampoline. The routines can become quite elaborate and incorporate jumps, tucks, straddle positions or combinations of somersaults (forward and backwards), twists and other elements. The Trampolining Federation actually belongs to the International Gymnastics Federation and therefore operates under their rules. Routines take place on regular 14 foot by 7 foot sized trampolines. Athletes must perform 10 different skills. They must start and end on their feet and have their performance marked by judges who calculate deductions for incomplete twists, for going too far from the center of the trampoline, or for poor form.
1. Synchronized Swimming
Although individual synchronized swimming is a thing, we will not focus our attention on that sport. Instead, we will discuss the Olympic sport that is synchronized swimming. This hybrid challenge involves the mixing of swimming, ballet, gymnastics and dance, as athletes (performing as individuals, duos, trios or teams) perform elaborate routines in the water, with music playing. This sport, in particular, requires extreme amounts of training, endurance, flexibility, strength, timing, breath control and water skills, as well as excellent team communication. Team members perform lifts (when one or two team mates act as flyers) without being allowed to touch the bottom of the pool. They dance and create water art while portraying the music their routine is centered around, which is certainly worth watching.
Did you know that there is also a synchronized swimming event for single participants? The idea is pretty simple: one swimmer has a few minutes to present her program. It sounds a bit counter-intuitive that a synchronized sport only involves one athlete, but the event has been part of the Olympic events for several years. Have you heard of any summer Olympic events that you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you!