When killing pigeons was an Olympic sport

Published Jul 07, 2012 11:59am

LONDON: Live pigeon shooting, pistol duelling and club swinging won't feature at the London Olympics, but there was a time when they were all medal events.

Live pigeon shooting featured for the first -- and only -- time at the Paris Olympics in 1900 where around 300 birds were killed.

Belgium's Leon de Lunden was champion for downing 21 birds, one more than runner-up Maurice Faure of France; Australia's Donald MacIntosh was third with 18 kills.

There was also plenty of shooting going on at the Stockholm Games in 1912 when pistol duelling was staged.

Instead of traditional duels of honour at sunrise, this time there was no blood as competitors took aim only at dummies dressed in frock coats with the target placed at the throat.

Club swinging, the forerunner of rhythmic gymnastics, was a medal sport in 1904 at St Louis and in Los Angeles in 1932.

America's George Roth won the gold in 1932 when the Games were held in the midst of the Great Depression. Reports claimed that unemployed Roth was awarded his gold medal and then hitchhiked home.

The tug-of-war, so beloved of school sports days, was part of the track and field programme and featured in the Olympics of 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920.

The 1908 gold was won by a team of British policemen, but it was a controversial victory as the United States protested over their rivals' footwear.

A report at the time said the police team competed “in enormous shoes, so heavy, in fact, it was with great effort they could lift their feet from the ground”.

Also long gone from the schedule is the standing high jump which last appeared in 1912.

Three-time gold medallist Ray Ewry of the United States was also the world record holder.

Ewry had spent part of his childhood in a wheelchair paralysed with polio.

If those long-disappeared events have no chance of a return to the Olympics programme, the same cannot be said for the likes of cricket, golf and rugby.

Cricket was played just once as an Olympic sport in Paris in 1900 and the gold medal was contested by Britain and France after Belgium and Holland pulled out.

The British side was a touring team, the Devon and Somerset Wanderers while the French side was made up of expatriate Britons living in Paris.

Britain won the match, staged at the Velodrome de Vincennes, while their opponents were sniffily written-off.

“The French temperament is too excitable to enjoy the game and no Frenchman can be persuaded to play more than once,” said a newspaper report.

Golf, which was played twice in 1900 and 1904 and was dominated by the Americans, will return for the 2016 Rio Games.

Meanwhile, rugby union was held at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924 with the United States claiming gold in the last two editions.

Rugby will be played in its sevens format in Brazil in 2016.


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Comments (6) (Closed)


PKG
Jul 09, 2012 04:20am
Symbolically, such games are still played in Olympics in one form or the other. All shooting (pistol / Rifles/archery)competitions are useless, what do the champions prove by this? So is the boxing!
Sachin
Jul 09, 2012 01:23am
Excellent idea!!
Syed Abbas
Jul 07, 2012 01:36pm
How about kite flying, Gulli Danda, Kabbadi as Olympic sports. Surely more humane than Western violence prone games.
Ammar Iftikhar
Jul 07, 2012 04:48pm
The magnificent past of the magnificent west
Shehzad Zafar
Jul 07, 2012 07:48pm
:)
Mal
Jul 08, 2012 03:53am
What about Pithu Garam? A facinating sport worthy of Olympics.