Kris Shannon: Olympic sports ranked from best to worst

Plenty of sports have been showcased at Rio but how many are really worth their place among the elite?
Simone Biles exemplifies gymnastics, the best of Olympic sports. There are many other sports which struggle to justify their inclusion. Photo / AP
Simone Biles exemplifies gymnastics, the best of Olympic sports. There are many other sports which struggle to justify their inclusion. Photo / AP

With the 31st Olympiad coming to a close, it's time to rank every sport at the Rio Games. This list is both subjective and definitive, employing a complex and secret formula I just made up.

1 - Gymnastics
The ultimate Olympic sport. Gymnastics stands alone courtesy of its rarity, given we're exposed only every four years, and its production line, rolling out the most extraordinary athletes. So extraordinary, in fact, this lofty ranking even factors in the frivolity of rhythmic gymnastics.

2 - Track
Add points for the best event of every Games - the 100m final - and subtract points for the worst - the 50km walk. What kind of sport asks its participants to completely suppress their natural athletic urges?

3- Swimming
As many storylines as there are events. The photo of Michael Phelps and 11-year-old Katie Ledecky was adorable, same for Phelps and 12-year-old Joseph Schooling.

I can only imagine, if Phelps comes back for Tokyo, we'll see a snap of him holding a baby who grew up to eventually beat him.

4 - Field
The jumping events are far superior to the throwing events. Except triple jump. Triple jump can go away.

5 - Cycling
To begin: track > BMX > mountain bike > road. A grand tour, this ain't. Also, the velodrome is the most Olympic of venues, so alien compared to what we're accustomed to experiencing. We've all been in a pool, many have stepped on a track. But who's cycled in a velodrome?

6 - Volleyball
So much skill, so many high fives - possibly the most fun sport at which to excel. You'd feel like a ninja, tumbling and spiking all over the place, and then feel so loved, being embraced after every point. Volleyballers must have great self-worth.

7 - Diving
Ranking is lowered by synchronised diving, which is just like diving but beside someone else. Pointless, really. Why not have synchronised balance beam?

8 - Canoeing
The slalom course is generally the most aesthetically pleasing venue at every Games. And the splash and dash of the sprint is good fun when it's not your arms in which the lactic acid is taking hold.

9 - Trampolining
Technically part of gymnastics, I'm breaking it out because nothing matches trampolining in terms of participation envy. Who doesn't want to clamber on and face-plant while attempting some ill-advised backflips?

10 - Triathlon
Triathlon can be pretty compelling, especially the transitions. I felt like there, after a lifetime of rushing to get ready having woken up late, is where I would shine.

11 - Sevens
Already the second-best team sport at the Olympics? According to these arbitrary rankings, yes, yes it is.

12 - Table tennis
Addictively watchable. Entrancing, even. Plus, it's like if snooker were in the Olympics. Everyone's played table tennis, so everyone can realise how truly terrible they actually are.

13 - Hockey
I'm ambivalent about penalty corners. On one hand, they're always hockey's most exciting element. On the other, they're often hockey's only element.

14 - Weightlifting
Simple, effective, one of the few events governed exclusively by a principle in the Games' motto: faster, higher, stronger. Which counts for something because I decided it does.

15 - Handball
The United States coach said it would take LeBron James six months to become the world's best handballer. Only emphasises the feeling this is for athletes who failed every other sport.

16 - Sailing
If New Zealand were bad at sailing, how much would we really watch? Excellent mise en scène but ordinary narrative.

17 - Basketball

18 - Tennis
We said meh.

19 - Equestrian
Mid-table due to the adventure of cross country - the best use of animals at the Olympics - and the monotony of dressage - the worst use of animals at the Olympics.

20 - Beach volleyball
Probably shouldn't exist. Two players per side really reduces the number of possibilities. The outfits may draw the crowds but the action can't possibly keep them interested.

21 - Synchronised swimming
Gets a lot of criticism but occasionally an enjoyable watch. The pool entrances and facial expressions are certainly Olympic pedigree.

22 - Badminton
Probably the best event for rallies. (Based on no evidence.)

23 - Rowing
Like real sport, but in slow-mo. Similar to sailing, I feel we overrate the excitement of rowing when we see the silver fern. Mahe Drysdale's drama aside, it's a bit dull. Beautiful on the lagoon in Rio, but a bit dull.

24 - Judo
I like the names of the moves and the bathrobes.

25 - Wrestling
Not quite as creative as WWE, not quite as creepy as Foxcatcher.

26 - Water polo
About a third of the playing field is essentially pointless, with the game boiling down to two teams trading shots at each other's goal. Appears incredibly hard but difficulty does not equal quality.

27 - Boxing
That Irish dude pulling an Andrew Mehrtens before calling out Vladimir Putin was by far the best boxing moment at Rio.

28 - Football
Should not be in the Olympics.

29 - Golf

30 - Archery
Picturing an idealised version, this should be far more entertaining. Maybe the competitors should be moving? Maybe they should aim for moving targets? Maybe they should aim for one another?

31 - Taekwondo
I dunno, man.

32 - Fencing
Any Olympic sport an athlete can play with a phone in their pocket probably should not be an Olympic sport.

33 - Shooting
I did not watch any shooting.

34 - Modern Pentathlon
How is this still a thing?

- NZ Herald

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