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Top nine obscure or overlooked Olympic sports

4:15 PM, Jul 29, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you think of sports, football, baseball and basketball likely come to mind. But there's a lot more than that going on in London! Here are the top nine most obscure or overlooked current Olympic sports.

Usually played in gym class or at a company team building event, it's hard to believe tug of war was once an Olympic competition. It retired in 1920. But today, there are still some Olympic events that you might not have considered a "sport."

Forest Gump jokes aside, let's start with table tennis. It's not your average game of ping pong. Just ask 16-year-old Ariel Hsing from Team USA, who's been playing since the age of 7 and practices 5 to 6 hours per day. She just made the third round in the Olympics.

"I'm going to fight for every point," Hsing has said.

Another sport similar to tennis is badminton, at number two on our list. Rather than a tennis ball, players use what we call a birdie. Shots can reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour.

At number three, shooting is not your typical sport challenging physical strength. Good aim, wind judgement and timing are crucial. Live pigeons were actually used in the 1900 Paris Games. Today, we have target and skeet shooters, like 33-year-old Kimberly Rhode, who just won gold for Team USA.

Even though archery dates back around 10,000 years, it's a sport gaining in popularity today thanks to the Hunger Games trilogy. An individual perfect score is 720. Top current Olympic record is 687.

At number five, these airborne acrobatics are definitely not your usual backyard fun. Trampolining made its first appearance at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Gymnasts are scored on difficulty, execution, and time of flight. After high flying acts, they must land on their feet and stand for a full three seconds.

The saying goes 'slow and steady wins the race,' but how about walking to the finish line? Race walking has been an Olympic sport since 1904. Athletes have to keep one foot on the ground at all times or they're disqualified.

It's the ballet of the water at number seven. Synchronized swimming first became recognized in 1984. No Lochte or Phelps here -- synchronized swimming is one of only two Olympic sports -- along with rhythmic gymnastics -- for women only.

Many like to take the boat out on the St. Johns River here in Jacksonville. Sailing is usually thought of as a leisurely activity. But in London, they're battening down the hatches and going for gold. Known as "yachting" until 1996, it's perhaps been one of the more overlooked water sports, though sailing has been part of the games since Athens in 1896.

Take football, basketball, and soccer, mold them all together, and you have handball rounding out our top nine. Players pass or dribble the ball as they run to move up-field, and try to throw the ball into the goal. It's huge across Europe and Asia. The International Handball Federation says that over 30 million people regularly play the sport worldwide.

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