The pentathlon definitely requires athleticism. Its ranking as one of the top five strangest Olympic sports is due to its unnecessary cruelty. The original Olympic pentathlon included running, a javelin toss, wrestling, jumping and discus. Today’s Olympic organizers decided that wasn’t hard enough, so they juiced it up a bit. The modern pentathlon requires athletes to fence all other opponents, swim 200 meters, ride a strange horse through a 12-jump course, and then those who are still breathing after this portion go on to compete in a combined event of running and shooting to win a medal. This must be done in a single day. It’s like someone couldn’t decide on a new event, so they just tossed all the events at the poor schmucks. The person who lives through it gets the gold.
Dressage is a sport involving million dollar horses that prance around to music. No kidding. It’s like horse ballet, and is said to require serious training for riders and horses, but some critics question its inclusion as an Olympic sport. It’s hard to say that it belongs after watching sprinters, weightlifters and swimmers power their way to gold. Add a period costume for the rider to the non-sport-like dancing of the horses, and dressage leaves spectators scratching their heads, unable to decide if they came to the Olympics or a historical play.
3 Rhythmic Gymnastics
Hard-bodied gymnasts work for years to achieve Olympic level agility and flexibility, but rhythmic gymnastics is something far removed from standard gymnastics. Rhythmic gymnastics involves an uncomfortably weird dance routine accompanied by ribbons, hoops and balls. Strength and athleticism take a back seat in favor of flamboyance. She who has the prettiest ribbons and spins them with the most panache without tripping or falling could take home the gold.
A fairly new event, the trampoline has come out of your backyard and into the Olympic arena. With the success of the trampoline at the summer Olympics, perhaps more backyard toys will become Olympic sports. Imagine the awesomeness of competitive see-sawing. Who knew that all those hours in the backyard could earn you Olympic gold? Sure, to be really good at it and avoid ending up a YouTube sensation, you need some serious acrobatic skill, but it’s tough to equate the trampoline with Olympic level athleticism.
Race-walking is an Olympic sport that’s kind of like watching a train wreck. You want to look away, but the mesmerizing hip-wiggling induced by the not-quite-running movement that resembles a child rushing to the potty keeps your eyes glued to your television screen. The only rule for race-walk competitors is that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. Please note that the rule says “appear,” and not that the foot must actually be in contact with the ground. To win the gold, you must be first to sassily sashay your bad self to the finish line, which is up to 30 miles away. According to the Huffington Post, the event has been contested repeatedly since 1908, but remains an Olympic event.