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5 Weird Olympic Sports That Rule

BY RELEVANT CURRENT / GLOBAL / ISSUE 58 July 13, 2012

On Friday, July 27, the XXX Olympiad will begin in London. While most Americans’ attention will be on track and field, gymnastics and swimming, there are some other crazy sports you really shouldn’t miss. And since every event will be streaming live online, you don’t have any excuse not to catch them.

Badminton
This is not the family reunion game in your grandma’s backyard. This is a serious, do-or-die death match. It’s like a way-faster tennis, except you sort of think, “I could do that.” Newsflash: You totally can’t.

Handball
The best way to explain this sport is to say it’s like water polo but with no water, played at the speed of soccer. Plus, there are, like, 20 goals per game for each team, so it’s really fun to watch. Pro tip: You’ll sound smart if you talk about how the Denmark squad is a good, dark-horse pick.

Trampoline
Yes, technically this is a gymnastic sport. But don’t try to pretend it wasn’t an awesome idea to let people just do tricks on a trampoline and get medals for it. It’s basically everything you tried to do (and got yelled at by your parents for) as a kid. They’re just good at it.

Fencing
Even though this might seem very hoity-toity, fencing is actually really fun to watch. It’s incredibly graceful, and it’s amusing to try to figure out the rules. Oh, and did we mention they fight with swords? Because they totally do.

Equestrian Jumping
Don’t get sucked into jumping’s boring cousin, dressage. Jumping is all about horses weaving around, over and between crazy obstacles. It’s strange how tense it is, since the horses often clear the jumps by mere inches.