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What Was the Least Popular Olympic Sport?

It is thought that croquet can trace its origins back to the 16th and 17th centuries, to a French lawn game called paille-maille, derived from the Latin terms for “ball" and "mallet.” This French form of ground billiards became popular as "pall-mall" in 17th-century Britain, during the reign of Charles II. The leisurely lawn game has had enthusiasts ever since, and croquet was even included in the Olympics -- but only once. During the 1900 Summer Games in Paris, only seven men and three women competed, and they all represented France. An Englishman was the only person who bought a ticket to see the events.

The weird and wonderful world of Olympic sports:

  • Two female croquet players -- identified as Madame Brohy and Mademoiselle Ohnier -- became the first women to compete in the modern Olympic Games.
  • Several other odd activities have become Olympic events, if only briefly. An eight-man tug-of-war was also introduced at the Paris Games in 1900, but it was dropped after the Antwerp Games of 1920.
  • A variation of skeet shooting was also held at the Paris Games. Instead of clay pigeons, participants shot at real pigeons. More than 300 birds were killed during the event.
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