Could you be a fishing Olympian? The Rio Games are fast approaching and while angling isn’t an Olympic event, the sport is still growing in popularity with more and more international competitions.
This does raise the question: can one of the world’s best-loved sports be an event at future Games? Put down your fishing tackle for a second, and consider this…
It’s already an International competitive sport
Fishing is already a major international competitive sport. The 1900 Olympic Games in Paris included angling as a demonstration event. It attracted around 600 participants from six different countries, who competed over a series of four events.
Angling’s come a long way since then, and is a growing event on the international sporting calendar. The biggest event is undoubtedly the World Championships. The WFFC (World Fly Fishing Championship) hosts teams from England, Belgium, Finland, Japan, New Zealand and the Netherlands amongst others – so there is easily a large enough pool of competitors to make Olympic Angling an interesting event.
Added to the WWFC there’s the Adventure Fishing World Championship – a challenging kayak-based catch-photo-release fishing competition. A six to nine-hour event, it’s described as a competition of “extreme difficulty“, so any nay-sayers to Olympic angling on the grounds of athleticism can be quickly silenced with this hardcore event.
Fancy trying for a European trophy? Try the FIPSed Coarse Angling European Championship in July. They’re held in the Netherlands this year. If you’re interested in taking part, details and registration forms are right here. Think of it as Olympic training…
Angling is widely considered one of the most popular participatory sports in the world. As anglingresearch.co.uk tells us, almost 10% of the British population are into fishing. And in the US, there are around 50 million anglers, according to statista.com. Fishing’s clearly a very popular sport.
Fishing’s also a major economic contributor. The Angling Trust tells us that the sport adds around £3.5 billion to the UK economy. It’s a huge contribution – and with the benefit of an Olympic-scale boost to publicity, that would only grow.
With such popularity and economic clout, fishing merits respect as a competitive sport. It’s possible that the Olympic Committee is starting to take notice, though. A well-deserved nod was given when Former World Shore Fishing Champion Chris Clark was chosen to carry the Olympic torch for the London 2012 Games.
More popular than synchronised swimming…
The Olympic Games has seen some strange inclusions over the years. Solo synchronised swimming debuted as an event 1984, but was discontinued in 1992 due to lack of interest. Tug-o-war was a significant Olympic event between 1900 and 1920, but was dropped when its popularity waned. It doesn’t seem such a small stretch for an increasingly popular sport like angling to be included!
There are also some current Olympic sports which are clearly less popular than angling. Race walking started in 1904 and is now a major televised event. Surely if walking can be considered an Olympic-calibre, broadcast-worthy sport, fishing can be?
One thing’s for sure, angling demands more athleticism than some Olympic sports. Shooting, for example, largely consists of lying still and breathing slowly.
A major draw for tourists
One of the big reasons countries choose to host the Games is to show off their nation to the world, and stimulate tourism. Olympic inclusion is a sure-fire way for a country to showcase its most beautiful destinations to the world.
What better advert for any country’s more rural areas than idyllic images of fishermen sitting in the sunshine by pristine rivers and lakes, surrounded by natural beauty? And for hooking in prospective urban tourists, city river and canal events could be arranged!
One step closer
From time to time, ice fishing comes up for light debate as a potential Winter Olympic event. With thousands of ice fishermen across North America, Northern Europe, Scandinavia and even Asia, the sport is more popular than other winter events such as luge.
According to Rick Spilman from Old Salt Blog: “Ice fishing is angling for a spot in future Winter Olympics”. Perhaps a little prematurely, drugs tests were recently introduced to the World Ice Fishing Championships in a bid to meet Olympic anti-doping standards.
Let the Games begin
If angling were to become an Olympic event, what would it look like? What about a three-day coarse fishing event, with each day targeting different species? Or a ‘fly triathlon’ to test a range of skills: distance casting, speed rigging, and of course, a catch count!
With four years to go until the 2020 Tokyo Games, do you want to get angling included as the newest Olympic event? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.