7 'weird' sports to look forward to at the Olympics

With the Olympic Games just one month away it's time for the resurgence of some niche sports.

Most Olympic sports are popular all year round but there are certain sports that, as far as the vast majority of people are concerned, only exist every four years. 

Sports such as fencing, equestrian dressage and synchronized swimming aren't something you come across on a day-to-day basis. The general population might know little to nothing about these wacky sports, but excitement to see these athletes at the top of their game is still sure to be widespread by mid-July.

Here are some of the more unusual sports we'll be obsessing over at Rio 2016: 

Equestrian (Dressage):

This is possibly one of the wackiest sports at the Summer Olympics. It is essentially a competition of dancing horses... More or less. The horse and rider must perform a series of predetermined movements in time with a piece of music. The International Equestrian Federation describes it as "the highest expression of horse training."

Dressage is a sport that might look a little silly and easy but it requires is a very high level of skill and a great connection between the horse and rider.

Picture by: EMPICS Sport / EMPICS Sport


A little known fact about fencing is that there are actually three weapons. These are foil, épée, and sabre. Each weapon has its own rules and targets different areas of the opponents body.

The main object in fencing is to effectively score 15 points on your opponent before he/she scores that number on you. Each time a fencer scores a touch, he/she receives a point.

Picture by: Steve Parsons / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Synchronized Swimming

This is certainly one sport you don't encounter very often. Synchronized Swimming is a creative mix of swimming, dance and gymnastics. Swimmers perform a synchronized routine consisting of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Routines are judged based on how well each element is preformed, how in sync the team is and how difficult the skills are.


Picture by: Ermindo Armino / AP/Press Association Images

Race Walking

Race Walking is essentially a race where athletes walk as fast as possible but are not permitted to run. It look bizarre but this event is a very popular athletic event and has has been an Olympic sport since 1904. 


Contrary to popular belief trampolines are not just new made for back gardens. Trampolining is a fairly new Olympic sport but becoming increasingly more popular among viewers.

Competitors are required to preform two routines; a set routine and a voluntary routine. The voluntary routine generally consists of the competitors 10 most difficult skills. 

Picture by: Julie Jacobson / AP/Press Association Images

Table Tennis

Table Tennis has been included in the Olympic Games since 1988 and has been largely dominated by Chinese athletes. Despite the fact this is a sport rarely seen outside of the Olympics Games, it is quite popular across the country.

There can be two or four players in a table tennis match. Players must allow a ball played toward them to bounce one time on their side of the table, and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side at least once. Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules.

This sport is particularly impressive to watch as the players have ninja-like reflexes and work with such careful precision. 

Picture by: Andrew Matthews / PA Archive/Press Association Images


Gymnastics may still be quite a slightly niche sport in Ireland but it has increased in popularity since the London Olympics in 2012.

This year is a landmark year for Irish Gymnastics as two Irish gymnasts have qualified for the Games. Kieran Behan (who competed in London in 2012) for the Men’s individual, and Ellis O'Reilly for the Women’s individual competition.

This is the first time in history that an Irish woman has qualified for the Olympics in Artistic Gymnastics.

However, there is little chance of a gold medal in women’s gymnastics for anyone except the USA’s Simone Biles. She is the three-time World all-around champion, and four-time United States national all-around champion.

Biles is predicted to win several gold medals in Rio and is already being hailed by many experts as one of the greatest female athletes of all time. As with diving and synchronized swimming, gymnastic routines are scored based on technique, execution and the level of difficulty.

Simone Biles competes in the floor exercise during the U.S. women's gymnastics championships. Picture by: Jeff Roberson / AP/Press Association Images