Rope climbing hung on as part of the Summer Olympics' gymnastics program from 1896 and 1932, with Greece's Georgios Aliprantis (pictured) taking the gold in 1906 in Athens.
In that time, though, the sport made only four Olympic appearances, mainly because it was popular only in the U.S. Perhaps not surprisingly, rope climbing was more likely to make the cut when the games were held in the states.
"It's important that the sports included be popular around the world, but when [the Olympics] are in America ... well, Americans have a little more say," Mallon said.
At its introduction at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, rope climbers were judged on form, speed, and—in cases where competitors failed to reach the top of the 42-foot (13-mater) rope—height. In 1904 and 1932, medals were awarded based solely on speed. Judges in 1924 again factored in style, which backfired slightly when 22 competitors achieved perfect scores.
(Also see "Greek 'Computer' Tracked Ancient Olympics, Other Games.")