3 most difficult Olympic sports according to experts


  • Insider asked six sports medicine professionals to name the toughest Olympic summer sports.
  • They believed that physical, technical and mental strength was needed.
  • Water polo came out on top, followed by gymnastics and swimming.
  • Visit the Insider homepage to find out more.

What is the hardest summer Olympic sport? This question is as controversial as the answer.

“What’s harder?” Dr. Rand McClain, LCR Health’s chief physician who treats elite and amateur athletes, asked Insider rhetorically.

“Holding your breath underwater, pushing most of your lower body above the water? Continue cycling right at your anaerobic threshold for as long as possible? Standing in front of an opponent who just punched you in the jaw … for fear of being permanently injured or dying? ”

At the Olympic level, this is all superhumanly difficult. But some sports stand out as the most difficult of all.

Insider asked six sports medicine professionals to name the most challenging sports we will see in Tokyo based on the physical, technical and mental strength needed.

Water polo named the hardest Olympic sport

Water polo often tops the list of the hardest sports. In 2016 This is stated in the Bleacher Report. be “the hardest sport in the world” in six dimensions: strength, endurance, speed, agility, skill and fitness.

Over water for 30 minutes and swim up to a mile per gameathletes “sneak to each other in kicks, like in hockey or football, trying not to touch the ground, not drown and at the same time score points”, Nandini Collins, a trainer and physiologist working for Noom, told Insider. “Water polo is played recklessly and harshly than the audience thinks.”

Dr. Naresh Rao, a physician for the US men’s water polo team, told Insider that water polo is challenging as it requires both aerobic (used for endurance) and anaerobic (used for sprints) capabilities.

McClain was unambiguous about his vote for water polo: “This is the ‘hardest’ Olympic summer sport,” he said. “Why? This requires the highest VO2 max of them all. ” However, data on this theory are mixed, with many upper swimmers, distance runners and cyclists all have an exceptional VO2 max, or a measure of how efficiently your body is exchanging oxygen.

Gymnastics scored the most points for technical and psychological strength.

Simone Biles.


AP Photo / Dmitry Lovetsky

Four out of seven experts named gymnastics the most demanding sport in at least one of the categories: physical, technical and psychological.

“Elements carry a high level of risk and gymnasts need to master balance, strength, flexibility and endurance in both the upper and lower limbs to achieve Olympic greatness,” the doctor said. Kathleen Davenport, dThe director of Physiatry HSS Florida, who works with dancers, told Insider.

They also need “strength and explosiveness,” Nandini said. And mentally, Davenport added, they need “extreme levels of concentration” to perform dangerous stunts – even after a crushing fall.

Several more sports took bronze

Swimming received one vote for overall endurance and another for mental strength, as it is a “sensory deprivation sport,” according to HHS. Dr. Tate Greddzer, a former professional water polo player, Insider told Insider.

Boxers, decathletes and 800 meter sprinters were voted the most physically challenging sport.

In the 800 run, “runners literally have to run 90% of their full speed in less than two minutes,” the coach says. John P. of Stop Crying Studios said the Insider. Once running it, he subsequently felt “complete numbness, inside and out.” “My vision was blurred and I couldn’t catch my breath or get enough oxygen to stand upright for a while,” he said.

Surfing and pole vaulting were recognized as the most technically challenging sport.

Mental strength, tennis and marathon have been voted for, although all Olympians in this department are exceptional, ” said Dr.Kevin Bernstein, chief physician at Peaks Coaching Group– told Insider.

“Most of those lacking in mental capacity cannot achieve this through pure physical talent, regardless of the sport.”

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