Amateur Events Of Olympics Past

The Olympic athletes competing in China next month have spent years in rigorous training programs for the chance to compete. We'd never cut it. During the early days of the modern Olympics (not the naked Greek variety), we might have had a real go at the gold, though. That's because there were several Everyman events that, unfortunately for us, no longer exist . Some are good ol' fashioned gym-class exercises like tug-of-war (1900-1920), rope-climb (irregularly between 1896-1932), and plain high diving (1912-1924). Others just wouldn't fly today, such as live pigeon shooting (1900), and dueling pistol (1906), in which contestants shot frock-coated mannequins with bull's-eyes on their chests.

Our real favorites, though, are basque pelota (1900), a form of Spanish-French handball, and the swimming obstacle race (1900), in which racers swam through the Seine, climbed up and down a pole, and finished by going over and under several boats.

Trailblazers like Martin Short and Harry Shearer can always hope though (see video).