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What the Olympics?

Every year that the Olympics come around, whether it be Winter or Summer, I am first captivated by the Opening Ceremonies.

And then, as it sinks in that the Queen jumped out of a plane, Paul McCartney sang Let it Be (and I wasn't there to see it), and at the sheer number of countries that I've simply never heard of (Nuaru??), I am shocked all over again.  

This time though, I am shocked by the sports in which people from all over the world have spent the last four years training, and will now be competing on for the bronze, silver, or gold medal.  Or, more accurately for some, the pride and admiration of their country.  

As each new Olympic Games come around, a new sport is added to the mix, this year's being Women's Boxing.  Not too crazy, right?  It makes sense anyway, being as Men's Boxing has been an Olympic sport since 1904, according to Wikipedia.  

But also on the list of 36 sports being competed in at this year's London Olympic Games are Handball and, perhaps even more surprisingly, Trampoline which made it's first Olympic debut at the Sydney Games in 2000, as listed on the official Olympic website.  According to its Wikipedia page, Trampoline is qualified as a gymnastic sport, and requires competitors to perform acrobatics while jumping on a trampoline.  In a combination involving only 10 contacts with the trampoline itself, gymnasts perform a variety of combinations, eventually landing in one of four positions:  feet, seat, front, or back.

For a "sport" that most of us played at as kids in the backyard, the Olympic parameters are quite strict, and certainly don't seem like something I spent countless Sunday afternoons playing with my brother and cousins at my grandparents' house in Pennsylvania.  However, according to Olympic guidelines which say that a sport must be "widely practiced around the world", in addition to meeting a number of Olympic guidelines, Trampoline and other sports like it, must be far more popular than we realized.

But Trampolining, as it is commonly referred to, is likely not the strangest of Olympic sports past or future.  In 1904, according to Wikipedia, Plunge for Distance became the first Olympic diving sport, requiring that swimmers dove in and, without moving, competed to reach the farthest distance before breaking water.  The sport, which lost it's popularity as quickly as it gained it, was only an event in one Olympic Games, but was possibly one of the strangest sports ever to reach as many countries as it did.

And they're not the only ones.  Some other strange Olympic sports past and present, all of which are listed on the official Olympic website, include Table Tennis, BMX Biking, and Curling (a Winter Olympic sport in which athletes push a puck across the ice using what appear to be brooms).  So how about you?  What Olympic sport have you heard of that made you say what?