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[2016-08-20] You Want to Be One of Them? What's the Easiest Olympic Gold Medal to Win? (I)

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What do you think is the easiest Olympic gold medal to win? "That's so easy that I could do it," is a phrase that will be repeated countless times around televisions airing the Olympics this month. The short response is, "no, no it's not." The longer answer is a bit more complicated. Every Olympic sport absolutely has a distinct degree of difficult and because of that we decided to rank events to see which would actually be the easiest to win gold. Our criteria was simple: Imagine you are 21 (if you are 21, way to go, friend!) and have never played any Olympic sport. If you started training today, which sport would be the easiest in which to score a gold medal and which would be hardest, with all the other ones ranked in between. (If it's a team sport, you can't sit on the bench - you have to play.) Before you get all upset about the ranking of your favorite sport, one caveat: There are about 1,000 medals up for grabs at the Summer Olympics and it's next to impossible to win any of them. We're simply trying to find which sports are less impossible than the others. See what the amazing list Chris Chase from foxsports_com brings to us below.

1. Archery/Shooting
The easiest Olympic sports are so similar we had a tie for the “win”. Though it’s probably unwise to insult the two Olympic sports in which competitors use actual weapons, it’s hard not to think that men and women with a lot of time and a steady hand couldn’t master the same art as Robin Hood, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and 2012 air pistol gold medallist Jin Jong-oh. Also, even if you’re mediocre you could still hit a bullseye by complete accident, sort of like Gwyneth Paltrow did when she won that Oscar.

2. Sailing
Have you seen a pirate movie? Those guys don’t seem especially smart or athletic, yet there they are plundering and escaping into the horizon all because of boat savvy. If they can do it, learning to harness the power of wind and moving a few jigs and booms doesn’t seem all that tough. And if all else fails, just become best buds with sailing tycoon Larry Ellison and politely ask him to buy you a medal.

3. Rhythmic Gymnastics
It’s gymnastics for people who can’t walk the balance beam. This is a competition (not a sport, a competition) that values grace as much as athleticism and grace can be taught — I’ve seen My Fair Lady. Hmm, that’s a reference only rhythmic gymnastics fans are going to understand.

4. Modern Pentathlon
Yes, you need to become proficient in five sports but that’s a lot easier than becoming sublime in one. The five sports of MP are shooting, fencing, running, show jumping and swimming. How good do you have to be in each? NOT VERY! I was a good, but far from great, swimmer back in my day and my 200 freestyle at age 15, which wasn’t even in the top 16 of my county, would have been the fastest at the MP US nationals. Given that, it can’t be all that hard to become decent enough in the other sports to beat other athletes not good enough to make it in a singular Olympic pursuit, right?

5. Synchronised Swimming
Did you know there used to be a solo synchronised swimming event at the Olympics? Say it out loud. Solo synchronised swimming. Anyway, now that contradiction in terms is out of the Games it’s just regular ol’ syncing and I imagine that’s far more difficult than it sounds. Not “actual sport” difficult but still pretty hard. Because, again, we’re not saying it’s easy to win a medal in any of these sports. But there’s definitely a pecking order and we seek to decipher it. It is our obligation.

6. Fencing
You know who’s won the last two NCAA fencing titles? Columbia.

7. Field Hockey
Team sports are a completely different animal than individual ones. The question isn’t how long it would take to become one of the world’s top three athletes, it’s what threshold you have to reach to not become a complete on-field liability. I think field hockey is the team sport that would be both the easiest to relatively master and the best in which to hide yourself.

8. Soccer
Again, we’re not trying to become Messi here. We’re trying to get good enough on defence that you’re not afraid of the ball and/or taking a couple of slide tackles. Think about it: national teams sometimes win after playing 75 minutes of 10 vs. 11. So, for soccer (assuming you can get yourself on a great national squad), you just have to make sure you’re not worse than nobody.

9. Diving
The origin story of divers is invariably the same — they weren’t clicking at swim practice so they wandered over to the diving well. There, the best used the power of repetition to become world-class at a sport that solely involves doing as much twisting and flipping as gravity will allow in between jumping off a board and hitting water. In gymnastics you create your own gravity. In diving, a ladder and reinforced steel does it for you. Also, diving has judges and judges make it easier to medal by a factor of 100.

10. Trampoline
It’s like diving, without the water and self-loathing.
You could do that, right?
You could do that, right?Source:AP

11. Rugby Sevens
The hardest part about rugby is being able to pull off a rugby shirt. If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand and aren’t named Clint, that’s harder than you realise. The whole sevens part of Olympic rugby makes this pursuit more difficult for the obvious reason that there’s fewer players on the field than in a regular game, but provided you could toughen up a bit and be willing to lose some teeth, you’d be able to hang on. (Just not to an opponent’s hair, please.)

12. Canoe/Kayaking
This was the hardest sport to rank so putting it in between rugby and handball sounded about right. Like any sport, there’s a certain knack you need in order to be successful, but of all sporting qualities to improve, strength is the easiest. There’s only so fast you’ll be able to run, but with enough time in the weight room and in the boat, you could eventually work your way through the rapids with some success.

13. Handball
Have you seen those European handball players? It’s like a dozen dudes who look like Chad from The Bachelorette. This sport bears the brunt of many jokes but given that there’s little football and lacrosse in European countries, where do the big guys go? The ball of the hand, y’all. Don’t hate. Respect.

14. Badminton
Sixty-three nations have competed in badminton competitions at the Olympics. Four have won gold medals, with China having the most gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively. This suggests the sport isn’t popular worldwide and therefore doesn’t have a talent gap as much as it has an interest gap. Quit your job, spend your days hitting shuttlecocks and, who knows, maybe you could go compete.

15. Table Tennis
Oh, ping-pong is an Olympic sport. Haha. Haha. It’s the only Olympic sport that doubles as a drinking game. LOL. ROTFL. Yeah, take your sneering disdain for table tennis and see how that works out against Ma Long, the Chinese favourite for gold. That man takes no prisoners. With enough practice you could maybe become great at the sport. And the fact that it’s a one-on-one game helps with the theoretical ease of advancing in an Olympic tournament.
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