Today, the Tokyo Olympic Committee announced that skateboarding has been proposed as one of five new sports that will be added to the 2020 Olympic Games. Although the final decision will only be made by the IOC in 2016, this announcement will have a huge impact on the skateboarding industry in South Africa, where skateboarding has become one of the fastest growing sports in recent years.
With only a week to go before the start of the Skateboarding World Championships at the Kimberley Diamond Cup presented by Kumba Iron Ore, Tim McFerran of the World Skateboarding Federation has welcomed the Olympic acknowledgement of skateboarding as a sport discipline.
“South Africa has the most comprehensive skateboarding development program in the world. Although the Kimberley Diamond Cup started out as a primarily Northern Cape social development program, it has turned into a national youth development program that has achieved global recognition. Through its Skateboarding for Hope Tour, the Kimberley Diamond Cup has expanded to 17 stops around the country as well as Grand Slam events in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town reaching thousands of South African youth. During its recent Africa Tour, Skateboarding for Hope also took its clinics, contests and free skateboards to three neighbouring countries with future plans for expansion into Africa,” mentions McFerran.
The world-class Kumba Skate Plaza in Kimberley was recently recognised as the best skate park in the world during the Global Skateboarding Awards due to the sustainability and community legacy of its programmes. The skate park has been funded by Kumba Iron Ore, a business unit of Anglo America, since its inception and recorded a record number of 100 000 visitors in 2014. It is the only sports facility in the world that is free to the public and employs two full-time instructors to assist anyone interested in learning to skate or to improve their skills.
“It is definitely a tribute to the hard-working team that South Africa has positioned itself so quickly on the global map of skateboarding. Thanks to the vision of the Northern Cape government and this comprehensive programme, South African skateboarding is in the enviable situation that we have athletes that could potentially vie for a medal in the 2020 games,” explains McFerran.
The Northern Cape Provincial Government was also acknowledged for its contribution to social development through skateboarding. McFerran is of the opinion that the skateboarding world championships in Kimberley and the efforts of the Northern Cape government have had a significant impact on the decision of getting skateboarding to the 2020 Olympics.
In partnership with the Northern Cape government and sanctioned by skateboarding governing body, the World Skateboarding Federation, the skateboarding world championships together with the robust social development program have engaged with over 300,000 skateboarders since 2011. The Skateboarding World Championships have made Kimberley its home for the last three years and it is expected that more than 50 countries will send their best skateboarders for a chance at the world championship title and a share of skateboarding’s richest purse.