Forgotten Sports: Competitions of Olympics Past
Various sports have been removed from the Olympics over the years, but many are still played in modern-day Virginia.
Swimming, gymnastics, rowing, track—everyone knows what sports to expect and anticipates the events of the summer Olympics. Before the Olympics became what we know today, a variety of sports were removed from the official list.
Jeu de Paume was played only in 1908 at the Olympics. The game is similar to squash but hands are used in place of a racket to hit the ball. The current game of tennis, particularly lawn tennis, was derived from this game. Tennis has resurged as an important world-wide Olympic sport and multiple racquet clubs in the area offer lessons.
The game of racquets was also an official Olympic sport in 1908. Although it was removed from the official event, the game now known as racquetball developed from it.
Racquetball tournaments are played across Virginia on a regular basis. The weekend of Aug. 17 there will be the 7th Annual Curt Rettke Memorial Tournament in Arlington, Va. for local racquetball players. Those interested in connecting with other local players can join the Commonwealth of Virginia Racquetball Association.
The current game of croquet was practiced in a slightly different form at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis before it was removed from the list of events. Roque was a form of croquet that was played on a hard surface and was dominated by American competitors, according to Top End Sports.
Croquet tournaments are played across the United States and there is a United States Croquet Association to keep players across the country connected.
Lacrosse is a popular game in northern Virginia but was only played twice in the Olympics – in 1904 and 1908. It has not lost its footing in the area though, with most local high schools hosting competitive lacrosse teams. Even though it is not an Olympic sport, many young athletes go on to college to play in the NCAA.
Equestrian vaulting was part of the Olympic Games for one year in 1920. It was removed after that but is still popular in the United States. Riders perform tricks, similar to acrobatics or gymnastics, on the back of the horse while riding. The American Vaulting Association connects vaulters from around the country.
There are multiple locations in the Virginia, with one located in Chantilly. Topaz Vaulters is located at 2912 Chantilly Rd. Participants of all skill sets can learn to ride and eventually compete.
Making its return to the official Olympic Games in 2016 is rugby, played in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924. NOVA Rugby, which practices twice weekly at Oakton High School, has teams for men, women and children.