Hardest Olympic Sports

The Top Ten
1 Horseback Riding Horseback riding (or Equestrian) is one of the most intense sports known to man. Not only because it's physically challenging, but it takes more than athleticism. Horseback riding takes commitment, time, patience, and most importantly building a bond with your horse. If you don't have a good relationship ...read more.

Try to tell the Equestrian Community otherwise, It is the hardest sport both physically and mentally, emotionally and so on, it takes years of practice and one things for sure... you will NEVER be perfect. I have been riding English for 3 years now and I'm 13, there was not one lesson that I can recall that I have come back from not feeling sore.
Now, don't go telling me that I'm weak because I am for sure one of the strongest people in my grade, if not school.
My hat comes off to all the Jockeys and Vaulters (combining horseback riding with gymnastics). I do Show Jumping (With my instructor) Cross Country and a bit of Endurance on the side, but I truly believe Vaulting is the hardest type/section of Riding. And to all the Hunters, Jumpers, Dressage, Eventers, Racers and everything in between... Happy Riding!

Whoever said running is way harder than sitting on a horse has a messed up brain. You have to control a 1200 pound animal that doesn't speak your own language. It could kill you at any time. If equestrians just "sat there," we end up on the ground in a matter of seconds. Every cue of the seat, legs, reins, voice is a signal for the horse. If you do not know how to do that properly (and trust me, I've been riding for six years and I still am not the best I could be), then you are on the ground. Every single time. A horse has a mind of its own. Horses test everything: your mind, strength (yes, you have to have thighs of steel and amazing balance, and perfect position in the saddle), and time. I bet you all who have a different sport practice a lot, but we pour our life into our passion. In fact, it is our life. We spend countless hours at the barn practicing and caring for our teammate, forming a bond so unbreakable. Do you have a bond with your sport's equipment? That's what I thought. ...more

Horseback riding is definitely one of the most physically demanding sports. Contrary to what many people think, you do not "just sit there". If you think that, then you should take a look at a horse rider's abs and calf muscles, or get on a horse for 20 minutes and try to get it around a course. Not only that, but you have to bring your A game mentally, too. You have only 2 minutes to make it or break it in show jumping, and there are no second chances if you forget the course, fall off, pull a rail, or any of the many other things that can go wrong if you lose focus for a second. Horse people are some of the most tough and dedicated people out there. If you fall, you get back up on that horse and try again, no matter how sore you are. To get to the top, you have to train for years to perfect not only yourself, but your horse too. Every time you get on a horse, you are risking your life, and you have to be alert and aware at all times. You know you're going to fall off sometimes, and ...more

I've ridden horses for three years now. I have done gymnastics, ballet, irish dancing, and soccer as well. Horse riding is easily the hardest out of them. The horse is over 10x your weight, and you have to control him with your legs and small squeezes with your fingers. He could kill you without noticing, he could paralyze you forever. Horse riding is one of the only sports that uses every muscle in your body. Riders burn 600 calories every time they play with their ponies. Then there are the endless barn chores. We enter competitions, where we dance with our horse, but even a slightly noticeable cue could eliminate you. We hold on with just our legs, as we gallop 40 MPH, and lean 45 degrees around barrels. We leap over obstacles, where if you go even slightly too slow or fast, could cost you the competition. We put our lives in the hooves of an animal, for two minutes of adrenaline. We put in a lifetime of hard work and harder falls, and still have to explain this to others. Okay I'm ...more

2 Gymnastics Gymnastics is a sport involving the performance of exercises requiring strength, flexibility, balance and control.

I am a gymnast and is the hardest sport by far. No it may not be hard when you are little and doing forward rolls and cartwheels but just wait until you reach a higher level and start tumbling on a 4 inch beam, trying to get enough power to do twists and double backs on floor, having enough endurance to get through bar and floor routines, doing crazy tricks between the bars while trying to keep your form perfect, doing the scariest stuff ever, flipping on the vault and trying to hit the springboard just right. So yes gymnastics is the hardest. I also did not mention 2 hours of straight up conditioning including running, lifting weights, working on your arm muscles, leg muscles, and your stomach, stretching, and if you even try to take a break you have to start over, trying to push your splits doing and working on your flexibility. Gymnastics is not a sport were you go to practice and you hardly work, you have to go do what your told and do it perfectly.

I am a gymnast too since 3 years old until now and so I know this particular sport ain't anywhere near easy. 5 to 6 hours of training for months in order to gain perfect balance is hellish and it is still not enough. It is downright difficult that a mistake could lead to instant death. Well, people says soccer exempts any sports and I do admit it once because I do soccer and I love it! But gymnast demonstrate so much more than what football player can in skills, talents and their physical and mental strengths respectively. Thus, I indulge in gymnastics way more than soccer for challenges it brings. Honestly, the gymnast gold medallist in Olympics gain my respect way above any footballers in this world. So yes...gymnastic is top hardest and very hazardous sport in my opinion.

I agree. I am a gymnast as well and it is the hardest sport I have ever done. Doing flips on a 4 inch bean and staying perfect while you go in between the bars is hard. Getting enough energy for a floor routine and enough energy to do all of he hardest flips known t man is hard. It takes a lot of skill and strenght to all of the skills at gymnastics. Gymnastics also takes a lot of balance especially for balance beam. Doing jumps like a straight jump looks easy, but it's not. Once you get the basic jumps like a straight jump you do harder jumps to a point where it gets so advance you can't even do it. Whoever says gymnastics isn't hard is 100% wrong. Like this person said, "if you don't think its hard, then go to a nearby gymnastics place and try it." You will realize how hard it is for all of us gymnast to do all of the things you see when the Olympics are on. It takes a lot of work, effort, and teamwork to do all of those things. You try it and let us know what you think of it. If ...more

People may think gymnastics is easy, but you go try it! Yeah it's easy doing cartwheels and forward rolls. Duh! Many boys thing that a sport has to involve a ball. Well it doesn't. Gymnasts practice everyday a week and at least 4 hours. I always hear boys complain about how they have a practice for 2 hours. They think it is so long, but I go to gym everyday for 4 hours. Gymnastics is definitely the hardest because it is very hard to do crazy flips on a 4 inch wide beam. Most people can't even do flips on a large floor. Gymnast are strong and athletic. They are truly amazing.

3 Swimming Swimming is an individual or team sport and activity. Competitive swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports, with events in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Swimming is one of the toughest sports out there! I'm not talking about splashing about in a pool playing around I'm talking about proper competitive swimming, you have to make every second in the water count because if you mess up in a race or don't perform at your utmost you will be beaten. There is always someone better stronger faster in every sport but in swimming it's said to be 90% mentality and 10% everything else, you don't have to just be phisically tough but also mentally tough. How many breaths you take in a race can be the difference between win or loose. No other sport has that!

I did water polo and swimming and swimming is harder because the coaches give long sets were you have to give 90% effort the whole time for like 2 hours and you can't breathe when you want. There aren't many sports were your always giving your whole effort.

This should be first in my opinion. It is insanly hard and every hundredth of a second matters. You can learn how to be good at every other sport but if you don't start swimming at a young age you won't be good at it. It takes more strength than any sport out there. Anyone who doesn't agree with this wouldn't even last 5 minutes of a competitive swim practice.

Swimming is so much harder than archery, or soccer, you have to have the endurance and stamina of a runner, the strength of a wrestler, and the lung capacity of a professional singer. I doesn't get much harder than that. Why don't you go swim a 400 meter butterfly in under a minute and come and tell me whats harder than swimming?

4 Eventing

Eventing: an extremely difficult aspect of Horseback Riding, it requires you to hone in on all of your skills, brain power and lessons if you want to make it out unharmed.

Eventing takes so much time and effort to do it takes more then 10 years to where theses athletes are. I know this from experience and I have been doing this for 5 years and I am still not even close. So please vote for this as the hardest among them all.

Physical endurance is only the beginning of how challenging Eventing truly is. Unlike other sports Eventers must also work with an animal that has a mind of its own.

Three separate events, one healthy rider, one sound horse! The hardest and the most exciting!

5 Track and Field

Track is tough to rank. Everyone is born learning how to walk, jog and run since they're 2 years old. Therefore, it doesn't take much to be able to do track and field, but since almost everyone in the world can do it, it has to be insanely hard to get to the top.

The purpose of the sport is to push the physical limitations of your body to win, and in order to do this you have constantly got to push every limit you body has, anaerobic, aerobic, lactic,various mental capacities and more.

An incredibly hard sport that requires day in and day out maximum effort. You don't win if you don't put in effort every day

I've done this for many years and is an awesome thing to do as a hobby if you enjoy physical exertion.

6 Cycling

It's not just cycling... there is also XCO (Cross-Country Olympic) cycling which is so different and my opinion one of the hardest sports.

There is no other sport were you have to put constant power out for up to 6 hours or more.

Power a normal people creates in entire day is created by a track cyclist sprinter in just 1 km

Track Cycling is the hardest Cycling Sport

7 Figure Skating Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, duos, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. It was the first winter sport included in the Olympics, in 1908. The four Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dance.

I did figure skating for 11 years and it definitely is the hardest olympic sport because top figure skaters truly reach the ultimate level of human physique in their free programs. It looks easy but the amount of strength you need for a jump and landing it, is something that not everyone can do. Also many sports on this list are such that you can easily medal in them at the age of 20-40 but in figure skating the time you can be successful is from the age of 14-20 (men up to 30), because simply after that age human body is not capable of doing the required elements. Also figure skating combines extremely difficult artistic performance with technical skills and of course stamina. Pair skating is even more difficult since you also have to do all of this synchronized with your partner. Figure skating is also very challenging mentally and the character of the sport is very cruel. If you haven't done figure skating yourself you can't really understand how challenging the sport truly is and ...more

If it requires "grace" it's even more difficult because you have to combine it with an incredible technical niveau! Jumps are juged in every little detail: takeoff, entrance, the position at the moment you left the ice, in the air, rotations, landing, speed, hight and than you have to look gorgeous while your leg has to stand 5-8 times your bodyweight! You have to train so much more really early than in other sports and you have to be good in so many different things to be a figure skater!

Have you actually seen professional figure skaters? They are amazing! Figure skating requires the flexibility of a gymnast, the grace of a dancer, and the stamina of a runner. It is a sport that is under-rated, and it should be considered as the hardest sport in the Olympics.

Being able to master this sport is incredibly hard. From the low confidence to the painful accidents and the dreading thought of having to have surgery I believe this sport is tough. One jump messed up can change your whole career

8 Archery Archery is the sport, practice or skill of using a bow to propel arrows. The word comes from the Latin arcus.

You are pulling back a very high poundage. You also have to correct your form as you go which can alter other aspects of your form. Making it hard to have perfect anything.

It takes perfect aim and stillness. Also when the string goes back after launching the arrow there is a lot of force realesed.

9 Soccer Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players each. It is played with a spherical ball. The objective is to score the ball in the other teams goal.

Seems easy but when you get 3 subs over the span of an hour and a half of running, you're bound to get tired. The average soccer player runs 7+ miles in a game whereas sports like basketball, hockey, lacrosse run about 2-3 miles and get unlimitted subs. Also, when every country in the world plays soccer, its much harder to be one of the best than it is for other sports. This exempts worldwide sports like swimming, track and gymnastics. No wonder Lionel Messi gets paid $725,000 per week and has gotten offers of over 300 million euros from other sports clubs.

Like track and field with a ball

10 Greco-Roman Wrestling

Think of arm wrestling with a person equal your strength and they're super difficult to beat and you know both of your arms will be left sore afterwards. Now do that with your whole body constantly pushing, pulling, picking up, and throwing another body while resisting that same motion happening to you. If anyone has wrestled with at least half a years worth of experience, they will surely tell you that wrestling is one of the hardest things to do out there

Why is this number 7? Wrestling is probabpy the hardest sport out there because it takes extreme endurance, strength, and technique. Why is horseback riding second? You just sit there and the horse does all the work. This list is messed up

And Freestyle wrestling! The hardest sport in the world!

Freestyle is harder ;{D

The Contenders
11 Rowing

I think rowing is a very hard and complex sport. While rowing you cannot just hop in the boat and move your oars back and fourth you must stable yourself, keep rhythm, and watch where you are going. All the skills needed to row are very hard to get just being in the water on a rough day is hard let alone having to row in a shell. The actual sport while you are out on the water is hard, but you also need to know things like your port and starboard oar and how to take good care of these expensive boats. People should think twice before they say something like "rowing isn't a sport" or "I've rowed in a row boat before and that was easy, it can't be much different"

I'm always getting into arguments with people that don't understand rowing. It's not a little row boat that your row gently, It might look graceful and beautiful while watching it and don't pay attention to the pain on the rowers face but all rowers know that Hell is literally braking loose in that boat. Not only is it physically demanding as in there is NOBODY that can take your place if your hurt or tired you fight through the pain during a race and lifting boats, erging, basically doing crossfit workouts and that's just the training. Not to mention the literal blood that spreads on the oar handles from blisters popping during power moves, tears being shed from the pain and numbness in your legs after a race. but it's also mental strength here you have to live and breath your partner learn every movement of their body so that everyone is in sync. Rowing is a very demanding sport spending 6 days a week for 4 hours a day plus waking up before everyone else and yet there is no ...more

I row, waking up early mornings (5 am) training 6 times a week. Eventually you realise that your meals are fuel for a workout. Rowing takes commitment, skill, power, training, hard work. After every ergo tests all I am thinking about is the throbbing in my legs and arms, but I still push on because regattas are won with pushing though it all and continuing. Rowing is definitely the hardest sport I've done.

Rowing is a whole body workout. We do not get up before the crack of dawn, go get blisters all over our hands, and train till we pass out for nothing. We will push ourselves till we have nothing left to give. If you feel pain, you're working hard. We won't stop for anything unlike other sports. Rowing takes dedication, skill, power, and hard work. If you don't have that then go do some other sport.

12 Alpine Skiing
13 Water Polo

It is definitely as hard or extremely close to being as hard as horse back riding, possibly harder, I wouldn't know as I'm to scared to try it. You have my all do/due respect (this is coming from an equestrian)

Why isn't this past swimming? Or track and field? Or... is horseback riding 2nd? Whoever is voting for horseback riding is weird and weird! First of all, wait... I'm getting distracted by horseback riding, if that's only there for the sole purpose of "But you get sore" I've gotten so sore it hurt to breathe. Let only go to school, I walked (It's a mile to school) and still have practice that night. OK, done with that, this is how I like to describe water polo. Imagine you're swimming head up for 6 minutes. At the start of those 6 minutes (I'm a sprinter) you have a high chance of breaking your nose (Which has happened to me before, multiple times.). Now, if you didn't break your nose you either have to pass the ball while someone is practically climbing up you or try and get the ball from the other sprinter. And that's just the first few seconds. The next few seconds pass by in a blur of pain, sprinting some more, and then, finally, maybe a bit of rest, while still treading water, ...more

Water polo is absolutely crazy. The violence that occurs in the pool makes this sport for the toughest, and the amount of treading that the players have to do is mind-blowing. This sport is clearly one of the hardest around.

Not only do you have to tread water the whole game, you have to take physical abuse from the other teams above and under the water. It is a constant moving game and you have to be super strong.

14 Cross Country

All sports require some degree of strength, stamina, and tactical prowess but non cover all three the way cross country skiing does. These athletes train and race is the toughest conditions; it is a sport requiring so much support that its almost the athletic version of F1 racing; it is the sport that produces the fittest athletes as measured by vO2 max (a top professional court sport player can get away with a vO2 of ~60 M/Kg/Min while an amateur xc skier needs a vO2 of ~85 just to be competitive at a national level).

I'm assuming this is skiing because cross country running isn't an Olympic sport.

15 Triathlon
16 Handball

Combination of speed, power,endurance and agility adding the the complex spin shots and tactical movements...definitely one of the hardest Olympic sports.

17 Volleyball Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules.

Definitely! I play VB and I love it, but it's really hard. I mean, like, I hurt my shoulder serving and I can't take a certain amount of steps serving, which is really hard to stop doing that habit. I love VB with all my heart though, and I'm trying out for the Junior Olympics Team! So many great VB players there!

18 Boxing Boxing is a martial art and combat sport in which two people wearing protective gloves throw punches at each other for a predetermined set of time in a boxing ring..

See which athletes are willing to switch to box. ESPN rated boxers as the ultimate athletes and hardest sport to do. No other sport listed here recorded any death. Golf is the easiest and should not even be an Olympic sport. Hard technically but no physical challenge. If you are dressed like you are going to Sunday School it should be considered a sport but a game.
Bowling, darts, poker, golf, etc...

Listen up. Boxing is the hardest sport (with wrestling as a close second) from endurance durability and reacting. Try it and tell me how hard it is you will agree with me.

Funny how no one has managed to describe why boxing is hard...

Some scientists did experiment and statistics with boxing and its was physically far far harder than volleyball or horseback

19 Basketball Basketball is a sport played by two teams of five players on a rectangular court. The objective is to shoot a ball through a hoop 18 inches in diameter and 10 feet high mounted to a backboard at each end.

Gymnastics is the easiest of them all

20 Diving

Guys, you couldn't even survive a jump from so high without peeing your self. I go up there and go gainer 3 and a halfs, and you say riding a horse is difficult.

Try to dive from 10m and not to make sketches

If you think that diving isn’t hard then go do a 4 and a 1/2 off ten meters diving is way harder than horseback riding that’s for sure.

21 Synchronized Swimming

People say that the hardest sports are gymnastics, water polo, and swimming. Synchronized swimming is a combination of all three, plus a lot more. It is also one of the only sports where the athlete must not only do these incredible moves, but also must make it look easy. One of the reasons why synchro is not very popular is because of the difficulty. The most popular sports are usually sports that are a little more relaxed and easier to improve in. Sports that are rare, like synchro, are usually very hard, which scares people off. Synchronized swimming is by far, the hardest sport.

NO NO NO! This should be in the top 5 at LEAST. I'm sorry but why are gymnastics and swimming a up there at the top when this sport is it all together.I'm sick of people saying it is easy, people saying it's not a sport, people laughing at me when I tell them that this is my sport, people teasing me for it. JUST TRY IT. Upside down, under water straining very muscles, pointed knees and toes, holding your breath, and coming out o the water very high, doing all this with just your hands. Oh yeah, and try doing that to music and at the same time as someone else for 2 min. And do that with a smile on your face and with grace. We'll see who's laughing then. And there have been studies conducted and PROVEN that it is more physically demanding than soccer, gymnastics and tennis. The only problem is that people don't know about it. TRY IT!

Synchro is a very strenuous sport requiring incredible strength, stamina, and skill. Most athletic people can perform many Olympic sports with some level of competence but very very few would have the core strength and basic body awareness and skill to hold the simplest figures in this sport. ( try a simple tub next time you are in water, look it up online) Synchro is most similar to gymnastics but I must admit that gymnastics has far more risk involved if you mess up! Every sport has different challenges and to become the best at your sport requires incredible effort and talent and drive. Synchro seems to get criticized as many don't enjoy the artistic nature of the sport nor the fact that it is judged and certainly the smiles and grace involved don't make it look difficult. Those of you who doubt the athleticism involved should simply look at figures from underwater, performed in isolation without a partner, music, choreography e tc. a and try to imagine yourself just trying to do ...more

Can I just point out that this should be way higher. The athletes are required the same amount of skill as a speed swimmer, water polo player and gymnastics in this tough contact sport. I'm a synchro swimmer and I know for a fact that we all train for ours out of the water to perform the areobic skills of a gymnast and perfect our flexibility to perform skilled movements upsidedown in the water without goggles and without touching the floor. We need to spend hours on intense stamina in the water reaching speeds similar to a speed swimmer and strong endurance strokes to lift our partners. The eggbeater movements that water polo players perform is what we perfect to make us look elegant and graceful above the water but what you don't realize is the bruising that's going on beneath. There have been many occasions where some one has back flipped of a lift and used those powerful legs to give me a black eye.

Synchro deserves more appreciaton. It's our job to make it look easy but it ...more

22 Fencing

Fencing is uniquely difficult in that it takes so many aspects to become a great fencer. You not only need to have great physical capabilities, but you have to have superb technique and tactics. Therefore, other than Gymnastics, Tennis, and Water Polo/Swimming, I'd say fencing is the 5th hardest sport.

As a fencer, I can vouch that in the vast world of fencing, it takes a lot of skill, time and practice to even make it to a national event, let alone an international event. I've had the opportunity to fence one of this year's Olympic fencers, and while I usually place well in national tournaments, I only scored seven touches on this fencer.

Fencing is one of the hardest sports in the world

I think fencing is the hardest

23 Mountain Bike

I'm cross country and enduro racer try to do 2 hour xc race you will die of painin2 minutes

Tried it once and never again

24 Sailing

By far one of the most draining, physically and mentally

Fight me. its hard.

25 Tennis Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent or between two teams of two players each.

Most other sports take max 2 hours. Tennis is a singular - or duo- centered sport, unlike some sports which are team centered. Also, like gymnastics, you have to spend HOURS stretching out each day if pro

Tennis is one of the most underrated sports in the world

Tennis,swimming and rowing you have to train the hardest

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