Five Olympics Sports I Was Surprised I Loved

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As a lover of sports, the best part of attending the Olympics is the ability to see amateur athletes participate in events that I would never get a chance to see at home in North America. Many sports that take center stage at the Olympics are not shown on TV in Canada and the US and watching the Olympics is a fantastic way to expand my knowledge of some of these lesser-known sports.

I was surprised at how much I loved watching some of the events. Here is a list of five Olympic sports that I never would have expected to enjoy as much as I do.

Field Hockey

In Canada, field hockey is a sport usually played for about a week in gym class by the female students and the fact that both men and women play professionally worldwide is something that has been missed by us ice hockey-crazed Canadians. Played on a grass field that is a lot larger than an ice hockey rink. Actually, field and ice hockey have very little to do with each other besides a shared name. Field hockey (simply called ‘hockey’ in most countries that play it) is fast and the ball-handling skills of the athletes are impressive, especially during set plays and penalties.

Handball

This sport is popular in Europe but virtually non-existent in most of the rest of the world. I remember playing it in gym class as a child, but that’s about all I know about the game so when I attended handball at the Beijing Olympics I had no idea what to expect. The goal of the sport is simple: throw ball into goal. The game is high-scoring and fast-paced and the athletes who play this sport are tall, fit and most importantly, amazingly agile for their size. It is a hugely exciting sport with people flying through the air all over the place and I was happy to have discovered this sport.

Volleyball

Every kid grows up playing volleyball in school but that’s about as far as any interest in the sport usually goes. There’s almost no coverage of volleyball in North America and it seems to have been overshadowed by the more sexy version of beach volleyball. Well if you like beach volleyball then you will love the team version. There are six players on each team which makes for long, exciting rallies and some amazing saves. I was on the edge of my seat while watching volleyball and I didn’t even care who won.

Weightlifting

Like wrestling, weightlifting can be a bit slow, but it’s all about the buildup combined with a fast flurry of action that makes it exciting. The venue was small and you could practically see the beads of sweat forming on the athlete’s brow as they stepped up to attempt their lift. The amounts they were able to lift was amazing and it is even more impressive seeing it in person.

Wrestling

Wrestling as I know it involves monster-sized men with freak muscles jumping off of ropes and doing a lot of great acting. Fortunately, wrestling at the Olympics is nothing like this except maybe for the level of drama. The intensity is amazing and, while the sport itself can be a bit slow to watch at times, when the action happens it’s extremely exciting, especially if your country’s athlete is involved.

So if you find yourself at the Olympics in person or even if you’re just watching at home, make sure to branch out a bit from your usual favorite sports to see what else there is. I wasn’t disappointed and I’m sure you won’t be either!