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Sports for Horses, Hunters and Village Fetes: a selection of the oddest Olympic sports in history

There are countless sports that, let’s be honest, don’t really make much sense… I can see the skill in curling for instance but not the point, and find it very difficult to get excited about an afternoon watching Rhythmic Gymnastics- but consider this… these sports were the ones that made it, when countless other much stranger sports have fallen. With almost 100 days to go until the Olympic Games, the Mulberry Cottages team would like to bring you a small selection of the strangest and most pointless events in Olympic history:

  • Jeu de Paume- This attractive sounding sport made its debut in the Olympics of 1908 and revived as an exhibition event in 1928. Essentially, it is squash without the racket, as players use a small wooden bat or their own hands (!) to stop, control and return the ball over the net. I can see two problems with this: firstly, I sometimes have trouble typing on a computer and frequently do up my buttons on the wrong holes so goodness only knows how these players have the skill to play the game unless they had freakishly large, webbed hands. Secondly, I’ve seen the way modern day tennis players smash the ball at each other and wouldn’t really like to put my hand in the way of a speeding ball- I’ll leave that one to the Edwardians I think.

Shortly after this was painted, they realised how pointless this whole exercise was...

  • Live Pigeon Shooting- Thoughts on hunting aside, please picture Paris 1900 where hundreds of defenceless pigeons were released so that lots of competitors could shoot at them willy-nilly, resulting in the deaths of 300 pigeons, tonnes of floating feathers and what I can only imagine as utter carnage. A Belgian won, with a haul of 21 birds and pigeons everyway decided to tactically bomb France in retaliation (we like to think).
  • Long Jump for Horses- I don’t know what it was about Paris 1900, where apparently everyone took leave of their senses and some bright spark decided it would be really brilliant to make horses compete in a field event (presumably not to get on the podiums to collect their medals however). The winning jump measured a surprising 20 feet and a quarter of an inch. Which put into perspective, is 2.63 metres short of the current world record. For humans. (just a thought but maybe this demonstrates that  they didn’t want to do it!)
  • Swimming Obstacle Race– Again in Paris 1900, they devised an event that would look more convincing in a modern day 8 year olds swimming party. Competitors had to swim, climb a pole, swim some more, crawl over two boats, under yet more boats and swim to the finish. Utterly bonkers ‘Total Wipeout’ style event that nonetheless I think would be engrossing to watch.

Funny to think that this was once worth a PURE GOLD medal..

  • Solo Synchronized Swimming– Synchronized swimming is, at the best of times, an acquired taste, so imagine one swimmer splashing around in the middle of a pool on her own, trying to look attractive and keep in time to a piece of music that she can’t really hear.

In my opinion, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

So if all this madness hasn’t put you off and if you fancy seeing some real sports this summer, let Mulberry Cottage whisk you off to one of our charming cottages, close to the action and transport links, so you can observe some of the (less ridiculous) real sports in 2012. Call 01233813087 for more details or see whats free online now!


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