Summer Olympics 2016

Three Sports You May Not Know About

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This summer’s Olympic Games, starting August 5th in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, are the first Olympic Games in South America ever! There will be 42 games played at this year’s Olympics, including two new Olympic sports, golf and rugby. The variety of games is incredible, and there are some games most people haven’t even heard of! Some of these include handball, water polo, and the modern pentathlon. Let’s take a closer look at these three sports.

Handball is a fast-moving sport in which a rubber ball very similar to a volleyball is used. This sport is a cross between hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. It’s played indoors on a 40 by 20 meter court. Each team has seven players on the court at one time, including one goalkeeper and six outfielders. Players have to dribble the ball, pass it to teammates, and throw the ball in the net past the goalkeeper. A player may throw the ball from anywhere to score, but must not cross the goal area, the colored semi-circle around the goal. There are often many goals scored in a game, which makes these games very exciting to watch. In the last summer Olympics, in London in 2012, France won the gold medal in handball. Watch the Summer Olympics in August to see which country will take home the handball gold medal this year!

The sport of water polo is fun to watch and is also not very well known; it is similar to handball in the sense that there are seven players per team in a swimming pool trying to throw a ball into the opponent’s net. Water polo is a very difficult sport to play, as it requires incredible strength and endurance. Players cannot touch the bottom or sides of the pool, and they need to tread water for long lengths of time. The players pass the ball, and they throw it very hard at the agile goalie. The last gold-medal winning water polo team at the 2012 London Olympics was Croatia. Who will win it this year?

The modern pentathlon is a combination of four events: fencing, swimming, horseback riding, and a combined running and shooting event. The origin of this sport came from training cavalry soldiers in battle-like situations. Fencing is the first discipline, with rounds lasting one minute and a single blow deciding the match. During each match, players compete against every other contestant, scoring a point for each win. During the swimming event, which is second, the swimmers race each other in 200m freestyle heats; the swimmer with the fastest time gets a point. Next is the horseback riding competition, which is a jumping competition with penalties resulting in point deductions from the rider’s score.

By the time the horseback-riding event is done, the athletes are weary and tired. However, the hardest part of the competition is yet to come. The ultimate test of endurance is the combined running and shooting event. Each runner runs a 3,200m race, but every 800 meters there is a shooting station. The runner then shoots a laser pistol 10m away from a target. After the runner hits the target 5 times, or after 50 seconds is up, whichever comes first, the competitor starts running again. The shooting is harder than it would normally be, though, because the shooter’s heart rate is increased from running, making it difficult to shoot accurately. The first runner to cross the finish line gets the most points. The last modern pentathlon winner at the London Olympics was David Svoboda of the Czech Republic. His time in the running and shooting competition was 10 minutes and 33.02 seconds. Compare this to the U.S. Men’s Olympic Trial best time for the running and shooting competition, which is 12 minutes and 13 seconds. Will a member of the U.S. Team ever win this grueling modern pentathlon competition?

Now that you know a little more about these three sports, hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy watching them during this summer’s Olympic Games. Go Team USA!!