The Link: Niche Olympic Sports

The Olympic Games are often heralded as a way of introducing lesser-seen sports to a larger audience. Here are six that have found their way into the public’s hearts

Steeplechase 2 Olympics Rio 2016


Olympic debut: Paris, 1900

An obstacle race usually held over 3,000m, the steeplechase derives its name from the more traditional horseracing event.

Each circuit has four barriers and one water jump to clear.

Synchronised swimming Olympics Rio 2016

Synchronised swimming

Olympic debut: Los Angeles, 1984

This aquatic ballet requires incredible lung strength; synchronised swimmers’ aerobic capacity ranks second only to long-distance runners.

Shooting Olympics Rio 2016


Olympic debut: Athens, 1896

Ever since 19th-century Greece, crowds have marveled at the accuracy and mental skill needed to hit targets that can move at speeds of up to 88km/h.

Trampolining Olympics Rio 2016


Olympic debut: Sydney, 2000

Nine judges score for rhythm, technique and execution.

Everything from the angle of the limbs to the position of the feet must be as close to perfect as possible.

Race walking Olympics Rio 2016

Race walking

Olympic debut: London, 1908

Considered the most subjective of all athletic disciplines, judges along the 20km or 50km routes hold up red cards if an athlete has both feet off of the ground.

Canoe Slalom Olympics Rio 2016

Canoe slalom

Olympic debut: Munich, 1972

Originally modelled on slalom skiing, the canoe slalom course has 25 gates or pairs of hanging poles to navigate through, with some having to be battled upstream, against the current.