Excerpt from the book Sports the Olympics Forgot This book describes 40 sports that ought to be played but aren’t, because I made them up.


The hammer throw uses an 8lb ball and is the most dangerous event to watch as timing is the key attribute rather than strength. The athlete stands on their hands and then the Hammer Judge places the hammer over one of their feet. The thrower then gyrates their foot so that the hammer spins around, faster and faster. When the athlete is ready they point their toe towards the open part of the hammer cage and hope that the hammer goes in that direction. Even the most experienced hammer throwers only get one out of every three throws heading in the right direction. Accidents are common and most competitors have been hit by their own hammer many times. Oleg Kirilenko set the record, 146 feet 9 inches, in 1987 although this was wind assisted.

The most balletic event is undoubtedly the 400-metres hurdles introduced in 1965. There are only 9 hurdles, 2 feet 6 inches high and 40 metres apart, in the handstand hurdles. At the start the hurdlers stand on their hands and head towards the first hurdle; when they get a suitable distance away, they spring over the hurdle and land on their feet; they must then do a handstand again before continuing the race – this process is repeated at each of the remaining 8 hurdles and then the athlete sprints to the line. The record is 1 minute 58 seconds by the Bulgarian athlete Maxim Dimitrov in 1983.