Olympic Sports in Marin

In August, the world will tune in to the 2016 Summer Olympics, hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and featuring 42 different sports, including new additions golf and rugby. But there’s no reason our county’s couch potatoes can’t play along on the sidelines. Here are some places to try your hand (or foot) at these feats this summer.


This ancient sport debuted at the Paris Olympics in 1900, then took a 50-year hiatus from the games, reappearing at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. During the break, in 1954 to be exact, the Northwoods Bowmen’s Club in Novato was created as a place to learn, compete and enjoy the sport. The indoor range, at Miwok Park, holds a four-week introduction-to-archery class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Once you’ve found your inner Katniss (or Robin Hood) you can compete in the weekly Wednesday night league shoots. northwoodsbowmensclub.org


Basketball first appeared at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin; a women’s tournament premiered in 1976. Get your own game on at North Bay Basketball Academy or an adult drop-in league at Novato Parks and Recreation Athletics or the Town of Corte Madera’s Neil Cummins Gym. northbaybasketballacademy.com, teamsideline.com/novato, ci.corte-madera.ca.us


Men’s boxing has been in every Summer Olympics since 1904; a women’s division followed in 2012. And, of course, the 1960 Rome games electrified the world when 18-year-old Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) won the light-heavyweight title; he returned in 1996 to light the torch for the Centennial Games. In Marin you can climb into the ring at the Novato Boxing Club, which offers health, fitness, personal training and instruction for youth, adults and seniors, or try the specialized fitness classes and lessons at Marin City Boxing Club. novatoboxingclub.org, marincitygov.org

Cycling: Mountain Biking, Road, Track and BMX

and BMX A core Olympic event, cycling has been in the games since 1896. Mountain biking (for men and women) made its debut in 1996 in Atlanta, BMX in 2008. Marin has many options for putting foot to pedal; check your local bike shop for the lowdown on what and where to ride. Mike’s Bikes in San Rafael and Sausalito, Tam Bikes in Mill Valley, Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax and City Cycle in Corte Madera are handy resources. Enjoy jumps and a dual slalom course at the new bike park at Stafford Lake. mikesbikes.com, tambikes.com, sunshinebicycle.com, citycycle.com, staffordlakebikepark.org


Equestrian competition in the Olympics includes three events: jumping (debuting at the games in 1900), dressage and eventing (1912). Grab your saddle; everything from beginning to competitive riding can be found at Miwok Stables in Mill Valley, Nicasio Riding Club in Nicasio and Sonoma Horse Park in Sonoma. miwokstables.com, nicasioridingclub.com, sonomahorsepark.com


Another core event of the 1896 Athens games, fencing in Rio will include 10 medal events for both men and women. San Rafael’s Marin Fencing Academy offers group and individual lessons in beginner, intermediate and advanced foil, epee, and saber for recreational and competition fencing. The academy’s 5,400-square-foot facility is one of the largest fencing spaces on the West Coast. marinfencing.com


Golf was last an Olympic sport at the 1904 games in Saint Louis. It returns for both men and women this summer on a brand-new course in Brazil. Interested in the many multifaceted elements of a good golf swing? Peacock Gap and McInnis golf courses in San Rafael and the Indian Valley and Bay Club StoneTree courses in Novato have driving ranges, lessons and tee times seven days a week to help hone your game. peacockgapgolfclub.com, mcinnisparkgolfcenter.com, indianvalleygolfclub.com, bayclubs.com/stonetree


Yet another of the Athens 1896 summer contests, Olympic gymnastics includes three categories: artistic, trampoline and rhythmic. Take a tumble at Mega Gymnastics, Pyramids Gymnastics and GymWorld in San Rafael or at Gymnastics in the Cave in Corte Madera. megagymnastics.com, thepyramidgym.com, gymworldmarin.net, gymnasticsinthecave.com

Modern Pentathlon

This event made its Olympic debut at the Stockholm games in 1912. A modern pentathlon event consists of shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding and running. Ten years ago in Novato, Pat Duffy created West Coast Pentathlon for kids and teens. Members today range in age from 5 to 26, and some have competed not only in the U.S. but in Mexico, Ireland, Egypt, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Argentina, South Africa and Canada. westcoastpentathlon.com


An Olympic sport since 1900, with women’s competition introduced in 1976 at the games in Montreal, rowing now entails 14 events. In 1968 coach R.C. “Bob” Cumming created the Marin Rowing Association in Greenbrae, and many of its members have since won, placed and competed in Olympics and world championships. Open to all interested in the sport, MRA offers teams, camps, lessons and clinics. marinrowing.org


Last played at the 1924 Summer Games in Paris, where the United States won the gold, rugby will reappear at the Rio games as rugby sevens, a seven-a-side version of the sport. Among the many rugby groups that call Marin home are the men’s teams at Marin Rugby Club in Sausalito and, for kids and teens, North Bay Rugby Club in Larkspur and Marin Highlanders Rugby Football Club in Kentfield. pitchero.com/clubs/marinrugbyclub, northbayrugbyclub.com, marinhighlandersrugby.org


Sailing was slated to debut at the Athens games of 1896, but the races were canceled due to severe weather. This year in Rio the sport, also known as yachting, will include 67 different classes of boats. Sailing instruction is available at yacht clubs and private schools in Marin, including San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere, Sailing Education Adventures in San Rafael, and both Modern Sailing School & Club and Club Nautique in Sausalito. sfyc.org, sfsailing.org, modernsailing.com, clubnautique.net


Olympic shooting contains the disciplines of pistol, rifle and shotgun, with men’s and women’s events. San Rafael’s Bullseye Indoor Shooting Range & Firearms Store offers courses for new and experienced shooters in all Olympic classes. bullseyerange.com


Swimming, another summer Olympic staple since 1896, features 16 events for men and for women. Marin has lots of ways adults and kids can stoke their strokes, including North Bay Aquatics programs at the Redwood High School and College of Marin pools; the Marin Swim League; and adult open swim at Tamalpais and Drake high school pools. northbayaquatics.com, marinswimleague.org, marinlearn.com

Table Tennis

Table tennis made its Olympic debut in 1988; today men and women each compete in singles and doubles events. Sausalito’s Marin Table Tennis Club, formed in 2002, offers memberships for $30 a month or allows drop-ins for $6. marintabletennis.org

Tae Kwon Do

Tae kwon do became an official Olympic sport in the 2000 Sydney Summer Games after appearing as a demonstration sport at the 1988 and 1992 games. Since 1983, West American Tae Kwon in Mill Valley has held classes for Little Ninjas (ages 4 and 5) and belted classes for adults. westamericatkd.com

Track and Field

A core Summer Games category since 1896, Olympic track and field today features more than 18 events, including the marathon. Locally, organizations like Tamalpa Runners, the San Francisco Running Company in Mill Valley, and Marin Wave Track and Field Club in San Rafael can help get you to the finish line. tamalparunners.org, sanfranciscorunning.com, marinwavestrack.com


Beach volleyball officially went Olympic in 1996, but indoor volleyball has been in the games since 1964. Marin has no shortage of options for playing either type. For adults, Novato Parks and Recreation has men’s, women’s and coed volleyball leagues; the Town of Corte Madera holds drop-in games on Monday nights; and you’ll find public sand volleyball courts at McNears Beach Park in San Rafael and Piper Park in Larkspur. For kids, Marin Juniors Volleyball Club offers a great introduction to the game. marinjuniors.com

Water Polo

This sport first made a splash in 1900 at the Paris Summer Games; women’s competition debuted in 2000 in Sydney. Marin Water Polo, started 40 years ago, now has programs for all levels: competitive teams, Splashball for ages 6 to 10, and Mom’s Polo, an introductory mothers’ class. marinpolo.com