The debut of new sports at the Olympics

By: Blogger

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

Four new-age sports will debut at the Tokyo Olympics, with the introduction surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding and BMX freestyle, joining the more the more traditional Olympic sports.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) say that they have tried to attract younger viewing audiences, by incorporating new action sports.

Anyone who has seen the Bay Oval sport climbing wall in action, will understand the appeal of a few seconds of frenetic action that rivals the 100m sprint on the track.

However, as we go forward with new Olympic sports, it's worth looking back at sports that had short-lived Olympic starts.

The voluminous (1181 pages) of ‘The Complete Book of the Olympics’ was the go-to reference guide to find the discontinued Olympic sports.

One game of cricket at the 1920 Games in Paris, between Great Britain and France, was the grand total of the sports Olympic appearance.

Great Britain was represented by the Devon and Sommerset Wanderers Cricket Club, while the French side were made up from players at the British Embassy in Paris.

Great Britain became the only Olympic cricket champions, when they scored 262 runs and then bowled their opponents out for 104, to claim the gold medal.

Another sport with a sole Olympic appearance was motor boating at the 1908 London Olympics.

Great Britain won both the 8m and the Under 60ft class races, and raced more than 40 nautical miles.

Croquet (1904) Jeu de Paume - real tennis (1908) and Racquets, which was a fore-runner of squash (1908) came and went with little fanfare.

Tug-of-War made six Olympic appearances before disappearing after the 1920 Antwerp games.

The first Olympic Tug-of-War competition in 1900 saw Sweden and Denmark combined team defeat France in the gold medal final.

The USA were unable to take part on the day as three of its six members were involved in the hammer throw.

Polo and Lacrosse were two other sports that were part of Olympic competition before being discarded.

Golf and Rugby, both having had long periods in the Olympic wilderness,  have some interesting tales about their first participation.

The 1900, Golf men's individual winner Charles Sands also played in the tennis competition, while Margaret Abbot became the first American women to win an Olympic Gold medal, after taking out the women's nine-hole shootout.

Golf was reinstated at the 2016 Rio Olympics where New Zealand's Lydia KO won the women’s competition  silver medal.

Rugby also had a long Olympic hiatus from 1924 until reintroduction at the Rio Olympics.

The 1900 match in Paris between France and England was attended by 6000 spectators, the largest attendance of any event at the 1900 Olympics.

France best Germany 27-17 for the right to play Great Britain in the final.

GB were represented by Mosley Wanderers, who arrived in Paris on the morning of the match and left that evening. France defeated Great Britain 27-8 to win the gold medal.

The last Rugby Gold Medal match before the long Olympic hiatus saw the USA upset France 17-3, in the title decider at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

It will be interesting to see in the future, if surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding and BMX freestyle can cement permanent spots in Olympic competition - or that their time in the Olympic sun is short.