Sports we'd like to see in the Olympics: Obstacle Course Racing

The Sports We’d Like To See in the Olympics

What are the sports that you’ve been waiting to see in the Olympics? We’ve made our list.

The Olympics is the highest form of competition in the world of sports, and certainly the most prestigious.

There are 42 events scheduled to be played in Paris 2024, while the Los Angeles 2028 organizers are still finalizing their program. Many sports want in, but the reality is that the International Olympic Committee wants to limit the number of events to a more manageable level so as not to dilute the prestige that goes with winning an Olympic medal.

As everybody knows, the Philippines has only won one Olympic gold, courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in Tokyo. That achievement could have come much sooner and the number of golds higher could have been higher by now if only certain events were included in the Olympic calendar. Here are five that we wish will be included in future editions of the Summer Olympics.


Bowling was a demonstration sport in the 1988 Olympics, with our very own Arianne Cerdeña winning the gold medal in women’s singles. Unfortunately, since it was a demonstration sport, the gold medal did not count in the official medal tally. Bowling hasn’t returned to the Olympic stage since, which is sad since Filipino bowlers have proven to be among the best in the world.

It’s actually a little puzzling why bowling hasn’t made it back to the Olympics, considering it’s long been a regular event at the World Games, Asian Games, and Pan-American Games. Its exclusion meant the Philippines missed out on several medal opportunities considering we’ve produced world champions like Paeng Nepomuceno, Bong Coo, Lita Dela Rosa, and Biboy Rivera.

Karate (return)

Karate made its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020, but sadly, the sport was dropped by the Paris 2024 organizers in a move that baffled the international karate community. Curiously, other martial arts disciplines such as taekwondo and judo have long been Olympic staples, along with other combat sports like boxing and wrestling.

Karate is one of the most popular martial arts disciplines in the world and was included in the most recent editions of the Asian Games and Pan-American Games. It’s also fun to watch. Although the Philippines isn’t a karate powerhouse, any discipline that has weight categories is to our advantage.

Sports we'd like to see in the Olympics: Karate
Jamie Lim has represented the Philippines in the Asian Games, but not the Olympics. (Photo from POC)

For those who will say that chess is not “physical” enough to be a sport in the Olympics, my response to that is, “And e-sports is?” Chess has been around for thousands of years and is played in the SEA Games and Asian Games. It is one of a handful of sports where size and physique are not factors, and it is played in virtually every country in the world. Go to any community barbershop anywhere, and chances are you’ll see two people playing chess. As of now, it’s played regularly in the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.

The Philippines hasn’t produced a world chess champion yet (few countries have), but Asia’s first grandmaster was a Filipino – the legendary Eugene Torre. Of course, there’s also Wesley So, who was a chess protégé growing up but has since switched his allegiance to the United States.

Cue sports

It’s been said over and over again: if billiards had been part of the Olympics from the start, then the Philippines would have been a multiple Olympic gold medal winner already. Several cue sports disciplines such as snooker, 8 ball, and 9 ball have been played regularly in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games, and Filipino cue artists have long been considered among the best in the world.

Can you imagine if Efren Reyes and Django Bustamante had competed in Seoul, Barcelona, or Atlanta? Or Carlo Biado and Dennis Orcollo in Rio or Tokyo? The Philippines could have already won gold medals as early as then. Even today, if billiards were to somehow make it as an official Olympic event, we would have certified gold medal favorites in women’s 10-ball champion Chezca Centeno and 9-ball doubles world champions James Aranas and Johann Chua.

Obstacle course racing

OCR is one of the fastest-growing sports, and in 2019 made its SEA Games debut with the Philippines as host capturing the overall title. It wasn’t included in the 2021 Hanoi Games, but made a return to the 2023 Phnom Penh Games. An earlier variation of it — obstacle swimming — was actually part of the 1900 Paris Olympics.

Among the sports included in this list, OCR is admittedly the newest and least popular. So far, it hasn’t been contested at the continental level. But it will bring a new viewing experience for Olympic fans with its intense and unique physical challenges. No offense to traditional foot races, but it’s also exciting to watch competitors go through different obstacles on their way to the finish line. It requires a whole different level of skill and athleticism.

Banner image from Matchroom Pool.

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