Drop it: Race Walking
Olympic race walking takes place on either a 20 km or 50 km road course. It requires competitors to stay in contact with the ground at all times, which separates it from running events, where both feet momentarily come off the ground. A second rule requires athletes to keep their leading leg straight from the moment it touches the ground until it is lifted. The resulting motion resembles a duck waddle. Racers may look funny, but the London 2012 official website says the sport requires serious stamina and endurance, and that “athletes must be incredibly disciplined to fight the urge to break into a run for extra speed.” Maybe so, but the sport seems to violate the Olympic motto of “higher, faster, stronger” because walking takes longer than running. It isn’t exactly thrilling to watch either. The world record in the men’s marathon, which unfolds over 42 km, is around two hours and three minutes; the world record in the 50 km race walk is around three hours and 34 seconds. Judges situated along the walking course give these drawn-out, monotonous races a degree of color. If a race walker appears to have strayed from the strict motion described above, officials warn them by flashing an 11-inch yellow paddle.
Add it: Horse Vaulting
Artistic gymnasts flip, twist and perform dance-like movements on various apparatuses from floor to balance beam. Horse vaulters do similar tricks—including pirouettes, split leaps, handstands and arabesques—while on top of a moving steed. Riders perform their jaw-dropping routines to music and compete as individuals or as a pair. In the latter instance, partners lift and toss one another in the air and perform handstands on top of each other’s shoulders. The sport, which can be traced back at least 2,000 years to the Roman Games, includes the musicality of synchronized swimming, the daredevil quality of gymnastics, and the beauty of equestrian events. There’s plenty of appetite for the sport to be included at the Olympics. The 2010 Equestrian Games welcomed hundreds of horse vaulters from 50 countries, and an online petition to include the sport has clocked up more than 2,600 signatures. And there’s precedent: horse vaulting was contested at the 1920 Games in Antwerp.