Last week, organisers of Paris 2024 proposed that breakdancing be included as a new event in the festival of elite sport and hyper commercialism that is the modern Olympics. In what is set to be the chicest Games of modern times, the French have also nominated skateboarding, surfing and climbing for consideration by the International Olympic Committee. Nouveau stuff you might think, but this is by no means the first time an unfamiliar sport has been included in the Olympic program – here’s a round up of my favourites:
- Solo synchronised swimming - one for those who enjoy an oxy-moron, the event caused an elegant splash in LA 1984 but wasn’t seen again after 1992.
- Horse long jump – horse walks into a bar, barman asks “why the long jump”? For Olympic Glory – that’s why! The sport made its only appearance in the 1900 edition of the Games where Belgian Constant Octave van Langhendonck took home gold with a leap of 6.10 metres on his trusty steed ‘Extra-Dry’, which, incidentally, is just how Constant liked his sherry.
- Swimming obstacle course – Australian Fred Lane took his life in his hands when he was the first over a 200m obstacle course on the River Seine in 1900. The event involved shimmying up poles, negotiating a path over a row of boats and then swimming underneath other vessels. Homme courageux.
So, berets off to the organisers of Paris 2024 – the Olympics has a proud history of giving fringe sports a go. And to the naysayers, this simple riposte will suffice, “It’s like that, and that’s the way it is”
Rob Hamill is the host of "Nothing But Net" sports podcast.
Listen to more of him here.