This is the second part for the post "You Want to Be One of Them? What's the Easiest Olympic Gold Medal to Win? (|)
". Let's count together your favorite sports and see what the easiest and hardest Olympic Gold Medals to win are!
We've climbed a step here from "you have a 0.001% chance to medal" into the "you're not winning a medal unless you've untapped some heretofore unknown talent like amazing upper body strength or an imperviousness to lactic acid buildup" category. The reason rowing is up this high is because there is an off-chance you're 5'3" and weigh 120 pounds, in which case you could step right in, become a coxswain and ride the broad shoulders of Princeton men to a silver. However, if you're just a regular person of regular height and build then you have as little chance of winning rowing gold as the Winklevoss twins have of ever regaining their dignity.
Are you an athlete in Putin's Russia and/or have easy access to clenbuterol? If the answer to both is no, you're going to have a tough time breaking into cycling. An aside: We averaged the different disciplines of cycling rather than split them up into their many categories because, well, it's cycling. That being said, BMX would be at, or near, the top of the list while the velodrome races would be far harder. Road racing would be in the middle because even though you need to build up thighs of cinder blocks and calves of bowling pins while also learning the obnoxiousness of riding on roads designed for cars dressed like you're competing in the Tour de France, at the end of the day, road racing is a bit of a toss-up. You stay in the pack and then start pedaling really fast at the end, praying for the best.
18. Track (Field Events)
There's an obvious difference between long jump, shot put, high jump and javelin but the one common thread is that you are neither fast enough nor strong enough to compete in any. Still, I suppose that with the right weight training and technique, you could teach yourself to become good enough in the, say, discus. But unless you're the size of an NFL offensive lineman you could work all your life and not come within dozens of meters of the world's best shot putter and hammer thrower.
19. Water Polo
In terms of competition, this might be the toughest Olympic sport. But if you were able to learn how to swim decently and gained the power to tread water, maybe - just maybe - you could sneak onto a solid water polo team and not mess things up too much.
20. Basketball/21. Volleyball
The two hardest of all the Olympic team sports for the simple reason that there's no place to hide. Basketball actually ranks easier than volleyball because of the disparity between Team USA and the rest of the world. Even with you on the floor, four NBA players would still dispatch with Tunisia, even if the opponent's offensive game plan was just a circled picture of you drawn on a whiteboard. There's a general parity between Olympic volleyball teams and the game is more inclusive of all players on the floor. Translation: Kevin Durant would never have to look your way.
22. Judo/23. Taekwondo
Most of the reasons for these sports' rankings are mentioned next, but we put these two a step lower because there are less people taekwondoing out there than boxing.
The sport is ditching the headgear in Rio, going back to the old days when fighters went into the ring only with a set of gloves, a pair of trunks and their will. This changes things massively. Before, you could theoretically figure out some savvy footwork, build some punching strength and hope to have the same judges that screwed over Roy Jones in Seoul, all while the headgear protected you, a little, from getting punch drunk. Now, good luck. The only reason this isn't closer to the end of our list is those aforementioned judges and the concept of weight classes. If you're 5'9", there's no recourse on the basketball court. In boxing, at least you're not punching up.
Same idea as modern pentathlon (becoming good in three sports rather than great in one) except that triathletes are far better in their three sports than the MPers are in their five. Also, swimming a mile, biking 25 and running a 10K back-to-back-to-back is no joke.
26. Beach Volleyball
Is it a team sport is there's only one other teammate? Whatever your definition, beach volleyball is tougher than regular volleyball because while there's a chance you could get decent enough at beach volleyball to have a great partner cover for you, there's only so much you can do when you're 50% of the squad.
You can teach a horse to jump but can you teach a man to teach a horse to jump?
We have seven sports left and we've finally made the jump to sheer impossibility. Whereas you almost certainly weren't going to make the podium in triathlon, you 100% absolutely, positively aren't going to do it in any of the remaining sports. But a ranking is a ranking, so we'll try and figure out which impossible task is slightly less impossible than another. Wrestling leads our list solely because there are enough windows of possibility (penalty on opponent, you building up enough strength and getting lucky with a move, bad judging) for you to do something.
The same goes with our last judged sport. The stop watch or scoreboard doesn't lie, but the Russian judge can.
In continuing our splitting of hairs, weightlifting at least has the weight classes that divides the field. But again, it doesn't matter how much time you spend at Planet Fitness, the only clean and jerk competition you'd be able to win is if you got very into personal grooming and taking seats on the subway from old ladies, pregnant women, disabled veterans and children. (High-fives self.)
There is no such dividing of the field in tennis. Whether you were to face Novak Djokovic or the 64th seed in the first round, the over/under on points you'd win right now would be 0.5. If you started playing every day, it'd be 10 years and the over/under would stay the same, only for games instead of points.
The specifics of our rules hurt the most in swimming. Other sports can be learned. But if you're 21 and didn't know how to swim beyond floating around in the pool, then it'd take years just to get good enough where you'd be able to start a training regimen equal to the top 12-year-olds in the country.
33. Track (Racing)
You can't teach two things: savvy and speed. If you can run well and have some endurance, then maybe you could train your way into a respectable finish at the marathon or 10K. In the 100? Your twitch reflexes are so slow that by the time you'd ponder winning gold, Usain Bolt would be in his victory pose. (And you might be thinking: What about racewalking, the oft-mocked sport requiring Shakira-like hips and a fine-tuned technique? The answer is: Don't smirk. The bronze-medal time in London in the 20K - just under a half-marathon - was 79 minutes. That's about a 6:20 mile, a blazing pace that 99% of amateur runners couldn't hit while running, let along walking.)
The Olympics' hardest sport is one with history and stats to back up that status. The U.S. Open is actually open to all recreational golfers and every year, thousands who have the handicap cutoff try and make the field. With that, no commoner in modern times has ever been within a Bubba Watson drive of smelling the top of the leaderboard. Of course, winning a golf medal is going to be even harder in 2020 when the IOC kicks the sport off the program.