Olympic blow for kite boarders

21:21 12 November 2012

Exmouth's champions kite boarder Oliver Bridge in action

Exmouth's champions kite boarder Oliver Bridge in action

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Exmouth’s champion kite surfers the Bridge family have been dealt a huge Olympic blow with the news that their sport will not now after all be contested at the 2016 Brazil Olympics.

Windsurfing will remain in the Olympic programme after the International Sailing Federation reversed a decision to replace it with kiteboarding.

Both men’s and women’s windsurfing will be retained after a vote at the governing body’s annual general meeting in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.

The reversal comes after a surprise decision in May to drop windsurfing for kiteboarding at the 2016 Olympics.

The ISAF at the time described the move as a “fantastic addition” but windsurfing federations vowed to pressure sailing chiefs to reinstate their sport.

British windsurfer Nick Dempsey, who won silver at last summer’s London Olympics, condemned the decision as “bizarre” back in May.

Israel’s sailing chief Yehuda Maayan later revealed that, in voting for kiteboarding, delegates had probably been confused or did not understand the motion because of ambiguous language translations.

Among those, the Spanish Sailing Federation has since acknowledged that its representative voted for kiteboarding by mistake.

The Royal Yachting Association has been among those campaigning for windsurfing and its performance director, John Derbyshire, said: “This is what the membership of the RYA asked for. We have a very strong youth pathway and some 10,000 windsurfing members of the RYA, so on their behalf we are delighted with the decision. We obviously have great compassion towards the kiteboarding community, with whom we have been working very closely, and I am sure that they will continue to work very closely with both the RYA and ISAF families with a view to gaining inclusion for the discipline in future Olympic Games. We can now look forward to preparing for Rio 2016 with the clarity that this decision brings.”

For kite boarders though it is a big blow, Exmouth’s Steph Bridge says; “I am really gutted, as myself and Oliver (the eldest of the three Bridge boys at 15-years-of-age), clearly had a really great chance to represent GB for the men’s and women’s events at Rio 2016. Oliver will still have a huge chance when kiteboarding makes it back in 2020, but for me this will probably be four years too late. What I know is that each day I wake up and want to go kiteboarding. The passion is huge and will continue. Every athlete wants to win a gold medal but if this is too late for me, I hope I can help someone else to make this dream come true.”

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