It’s that time of year again. The Summer Olympics are just weeks away in Rio de Janeiro.
Some of these events might sound odd because, to be frank, no one knows they exist. That’s why we’re even more excited this year — when else would we be able to watch a sport like table tennis on TV?! Although some of these sports may sound weird, give these 5 odd Summer Olympic events a chance — they may just win you over.
1. Race Walking
Yup, you better believe it: there’s a competition to see who can walk the fastest in the world. Sound easy? Well, its not. The contestants have to walk as fast as they can without actually running, meaning they cannot bend there knees. They must have one foot on the ground at all times or else they’ll be disqualified by the race judges. Race walking made its first appearance in the modern Olympics in 1904 and it falls under the track and field category. Watch Elena Lashmanova, win the women’s 20k race walk in 2012.
2. Rhythmic Gymnastics
Yes, this is the event where contestants dance around with ribbons in their hands, but there’s much more to it. This event includes team competitions, in which a hoop, ball clubs, or a rope can be included in the routine. Think of it as juggling, except you’re in a synchronized group. Rhythmic gymnastics made its debut in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Check out the 2012 women’s gold medalist, Evgeniya Kanaeva, in her final routine.
This might remind you of an activity that you did in your backyard when you were 10. We’re guessing you didn’t realize that it was an Olympic sport or else maybe you would’ve continued practicing. Trampolining is a fairly new addition, making its debut in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Both men and women compete in its two events, and the event falls under the gymnastics category because the athletes do acrobatics on the trampoline. They jump, flip, turn, and do somersaults. Trampolining is an awesome event to watch, but seriously, don’t try these flips at home. Watch Dong Dong, the 2012 men’s gold medalist, kill it in his final routine.
4. Cycling BMX
BMX might remind you of motocross, but this isn’t it. Cycling BMX is the opposite of motocross because it’s the human powered version. Cycling BMX is similar to motocross because it’s known as an extreme sport due to the high risk of injuries. In just 2008, cycling BMX was introduced to the Summer Olympic games held in Beijing. It’s not only an Olympic sport, but it’s also part of the American X-Games. Both men and women participant in individual events that consist of intense racing and jumps, even several crashes. Check out Mariana Pajon take home the women’s gold medal in 2012.
5. Table Tennis
Aka ping pong. This game might remind you of an activity that you played with your friends when you were younger. But did you know that this game actually plays a very important role in the Summer Olympics? This event has been around since the very first Olympic games but many Americans have forgotten that it’s still an Olympic sport because they’ve become more interested in the “popular American” events, like basketball.
Table tennis is mostly dominated by the Chinese. In fact, in 2012, the United States didn’t have any athletes competing and this year, there won’t be any Americans competing again. Maybe if we give it more support this year than we can get some contestants for the next Summer Olympics. Watch the two Chinese finalists, Zhang Jike and Wang Hao, compete for the table tennis gold medal in 2012.
Race Walking: Aug. 12 (Men’s 20-kilometer), Aug, 19 (Men’s 50-kilometer), Aug. 19 (Women’s 20-kilometer)
Rhythmic Gymnastics: Aug. 6-21st
Trampolining: Aug. 6-21st
Cycling BMX: Aug. 17-19th
Table Tennis: Aug. 6-14th