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.

Horseback riding is so hard. You have to steer a 1200 animal that can't communicate with you. You have to over jumps that are taller and wider than you and your animal could kill you at any moment. You can get kicked, stomped on, bitten, bucked and reared off, and get dragged by the stirrups. You can burn 600 calories after just trotting for an hour. We spend hours a day feeding, cleaning, and caring for them. You use every muscle in your body. It is physically demanding. You have to keep your hands in the right spot, legs and ankles can't move or you might ask for a wrong cue, and have to have perfect posture and add leg at the right time. One wrong movement could kill or paralyze you.

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 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.

My daughter was a level 9 gymnast. Not only does it require intense physical conditioning, but an unparalleled level of mental toughness and precision.

Gymnastics is crazy hard. I can understand how swimming can be hard along with horseback riding. But gymnasts have to condition for more than 2 hours and that is only for level 4s or 3s. When you are a Olympian you work your butt off. I remember when I was young some of the kids started crying. That is just from the work out! Imagine splitting the beam after doing two back flips. IT HURTS! Not just that if you are on the bar you can rip your entire hand open just from swinging on the bars! If you lose focus for a moment you could get seriously injured. Just learning how to do things is dangerous. Our coaches put a lot of pressure on you too. They expect correction every turn you take. Also a single kip on the bar takes a lot of strength and that is only to get onto the bar. One single mistake can cost you big points. If land something incorrectly you can seriously get hurt. You have to have lots of flexibility. People think that gymnastics is hard but they can bleary do the splits. ...more

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

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.

As a swimmer I swim 3+ hours at the pool and 2+ hours working out. You have the resistance of the water and at least 7 other opponents at once and at the time of the race you don't know how good they are doing or how much better you need to do. In show jumping you go one at a time so, you can figure out a plan to the best, in swimming the only plan you have is the one to beat your best time. When you dive in you have to dive in a way that you get far and go deep but, not too deep. You also have to have the best technique and speed. If you focus on one part of your swim and not the other parts you can easily mess up. I can speak for the equestrians if you have the right horse than your legs are not nearly as sore after a ride than how sore your legs are after just a kick set. I have a horse and your hose is doing most of the work when you show jump. The horse is the one jumping and cantering. The only time you use your thighs when you ride a horse is when you give them a cue. When you ...more

You use Every. Single. Muscle. In. Your. Body. On top of that, you are holding your breath. It takes so much mental resilience and strength. I have a lot of respect for the Olympians and those who make it to Trials too.

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!

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.

4 Eventing

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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!

It is a sport that involves knowledge, speed, strength, flexibility, and stamina and it is one of the hardest sports out there in the world

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 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.

You are using your whole body (no shut up rowing is not just upper body strength the legs are very involved do your research) to propel a boat at high speeds and you don't get to rest, it's a 6 minute 100 m sprint basically, and then there is the face that your form has to be perfect or you will catch a crab (look it up, not the std) and if you are not in sink you will mess up your whole boat.

12 Water Polo

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.

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)

13 Alpine Skiing
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 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

18 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!

19 Synchronized Swimming

To do synchronised swimming you literally have to have the stamina of a swimmer be as flexible and strong as a gymnast and as fluent as a dancer. Your lung capacity has to be impeccable.like try doing a sport but holding your breath most of the time.you have to keep your eyes open under water to see what your doing and the height you have to get out the water is phenomenal and without touching the bottom and don't even get me started on how hard spins are. You have to also be creative to make a good routine. It's the hardest sport ever no debate

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

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.

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 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.
22 Fencing

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 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.

23 Mountain Bike
24 Sailing
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

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