Skateboarding and freestyle BMX could become Olympic sports if cycling's world governing body the UCI gets its way. In an interview with the BBC UCI president, Pat McQuaid, has revealed that discussions are taking place to bring both sports to the Olympics… under UCI control naturally.
This is not the first time that McQuaid has expressed a desire to bring skateboarding and freestyle BMX under the UCI's control he mentioned both as sports the UCI would like to develop in an interview with Bikebiz back in 2005. At the time he was the UCI's President-in-waiting and on his accession to the top job that aspiration seemed to have been forgotten – let's face it the man has had quite a lot on his plate these past 5 years. However it would seem that McQuaid has not forgotten, far from it he has been working behind the scenes to make his plan a reality.
The UCI is a well connected within the International Olympic Committee - former UCI president Hein Verbruggen is a senior member of the IOC and the UCI has made its case on the grounds of relevancy to the world's youth – keeping down with the kids is something the IOC hierarchy are apparently keen to do.
"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognise they need to have events in the Olympic programme that bring kids into sport," McQuaid told the BBC.
"BMX came into the Games in Beijing for the first time and was a spectacular success - we've shown that to the IOC members and the reaction from the media was superb.
"Discussions [related to BMX freestyle and skateboarding] are ongoing. I hope they come to fruition and we see those disciplines in the Olympic Games. It'd be wonderful for young kids to see events they can aim for in the Olympics.
"This is at an early stage and there is quite a lot to discuss, but from initial discussions with [IOC president] Jacques Rogge and others it's very positive."
While freestyle BMX might seem a fairly logical next step for the UCI, skateboarding on the face of it doesn't have much in common with cycling… except for the wheels.
"They're all related to wheels, they're all related to bikes as such, and from that point of view cycling is the sport that can bring those disciplines in." McQuaid told the BBC.
The plain fact is that skateboarding doesn't have a powerful world governing body behind it - not one with clout at the IOC so if in the short term it is going to have any chance of getting in to the five ringed circus it needs to hook up with an established player like the UCI. Indeed it may well be that someone at the IOC would like to see skateboarding in and views the UCI as the most likely, vehicle for achieving that goal.
While skateboarding and freestyle BMX might both be good for the Olympics and, as BikeBiz notes, the UCI, whether the squeaky clean corporate embrace of the Olympic movement and the men in blazers would be good for freestyle BMX and skateboarding does not seem to have been mentioned. Sanitized versions of either would surely lack the air of rebellious free spiritedness that attracted the world's youth in the first place.
One in one out is standard Olympic policy when it comes to new sports and events joining the 'Olympic family' but according to the BBC no events would be lost from the Olympic roster were skateboarding to be added. interestingly though they make no such reassurance regarding freestyle BMX.
BMX racing was added to the Olympic cycling programme in Beijing at the expense of track cycling's – until then – blue riband event the 1 kilometre time trial. The number of track disciplines at next year's London Olympics has been cut further to achieve parity between male and female events – the advent of another BMX discipline would surely lead to the loss of another part of the cycling programme. Many would consider track cycling at the Olympics to be already down to the bare bones which leaves the Olympic road race and time trial, should the UCI's current difficulties surrounding plans for a breakaway professional tour come to a head they might well be surplus to requirements by 2016. Rad to the power of sick! … as they probably say in Lausanne these days.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.