Tug of war is a forgotten event of the modern Olympics. (Getty Images)

Olympic Games, which dates back almost 3000 years, has become the pinnacle of sport across the world.

From the ancient Games held in Olympia to the introduction of the modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, there has been a wide range of weird, wacky and wild sports that made up the event.

‘DISGRACE’: Backlash after Australian Olympians skip vaccine queue

WOW: The original truth of the Sydney Olympics behind Roger Federer and Mirka reunion

Over the years, many unusual sports have fallen into the archives.

From ancient wrestling to more modern events, here are some of the unusual sports that many people didn’t know that made up the Olympics.

Ancient olympic games

Carriage stroke

The chariot races were considered one of the events that helped found the Olympic Games in Greece.

This sport was one of the most popular and long-lasting events in the equestrian program of the Ancient Games.

Chariot races immediately gained popularity and larger colosseums were designed to accommodate the races.

The races were held in arenas called the Hippodrome.

Cleisthenes at the Olympic Games.  Cleisthenes also Cleisthenes or Kleisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon from 600 to 560 BC.  AD, won the Olympics as a chariot racer.

Cleisthenes at the Olympic Games. Cleisthenes also Cleisthenes or Kleisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon from 600 to 560 BC. (Photo by The Print Collector / Heritage Images via Getty Images)

The race often extended from 3.5 km to 14 km and varied in number of tanks.

Tank racing was a high octane sport, which often resulted in massive collisions and fatal injuries.

All the glory went to the winning owner, which meant that the Hippodrome was seen as a symbol of wealth and power.


A combination of boxing and wrestling with very few restrictions, Pankration was a brutal display of masculinity in ancient times.

The only rule was “no bite or gouging” while the fighters wore no bandages in the bloody skill display.

The sport has become extremely popular and has become a part of ancient folklore due to gladiatorial battles.

‘Pankration’ on an amphora. (Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Modern olympic games


One of the most unlikely sports to have participated as an Olympic event is croquet.

At the start of the Modern Games, many sporting events were chosen by the host country.

In 1900, the Olympic Games were held in Paris and croquet made its exciting introduction.

France won all the medals, but the 10 players entered were French.

Paul Chard, member of the Northampton Croquet Club plays a jump shot at the Old Grammarians sports grounds

Croque was a sport at the Paris Olympics in 1900. (Photo by David Rogers / Getty Images)

Three women participated in the event, which was the first time since the Ancient Games.

However, the sport was not popular with spectators and only one Englishman traveled from Nice to watch.

The sport made an appearance in 1904 under the American name of Roque, but did not participate in other Olympics.

Tug of war

Competitors train for Tug Of War in Plymouth, England in 1968.

Rope training in Plymouth, England in 1968 (Photo by Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

During the second modern Olympic Games in 1900, tug of war reappeared.

Part of the ancient Games, tug of war was a sport of the Olympic Games until 1920.

The sport consisted of two teams of eight and the goal was to pull your opponents over a line – normally six feet away – with a rope.

Although no longer an Olympic sport, the activity remains popular around the world.

The team split into two halves to pull against each other with a rope on a pulley, under the watchful eye of their trainer, Sergeant George Hutton.

Competitors train as part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Olympics, when police teams represented the two countries in the tug of war. (Photo by S & G / PA Images via Getty Images)


Also known as “power boating,” this unusual Olympic sport consisted of three motorboat racing events.

The motorboat was staged in the United Kingdom at the 1908 Olympics on the waters of Southampton.

But the event did not go as planned.

Two boats competing on the first day abandoned the race halfway through the first lap, while the only remaining competitor did not finish due to bad weather.

On the second day, a boat ran aground and the only remaining competitor crossed the line unopposed and won gold.

The event did not return to the Games.

Live pigeon shooting

Another very unusual sport for today’s standards is pigeon shooting.

As various shooting events take place today in 1900, the goal was for competitors to shoot down as many live pigeons as possible.

The sport has been described as “very aristocratic”, which means “very aristocratic”.

The sport did not take off after nearly 300 birds were killed for the event and the field was reportedly strewn with blood and feathers.

Leon de Lunden from Belgium won the event after killing 21 of the 300 birds, but the Olympics don’t officially count that as a medal.

This is the only time an animal has been intentionally killed during the Games.

Climbing rope

The sport of climbing a vertical rope was a popular gymnastics event in 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924, and 1932.

Rope climbing was an elite display of upper body strength.


One of the greatest sports in the world, many are unaware that cricket made its debut in 1900.

The only game ever played at the Olympics, England beat the French (which was a team made up mostly of English) comfortably after scoring 117 and 145 for 5, while beating their opponents for 78 and 26.

The lack of nations playing cricket at the time, as well as the dominance of the English team, meant that this had not lasted for future Games.

Cricket has obviously since become one of the greatest sports in the world.

Watch ‘Mind Games’, Yahoo Sport Australia’s new series exploring the often brutal mental work of elite athletes in search of greatness:

Click here to sign up for our newsletter for all the latest landmark stories from Australia and around the world.