I’m angling for a new Olympic sport, one that would hook us a few medals – Stuff.co.nz


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tomwalshnzl / InstagramKiwi shot put medal hopeful Tom Walsh had a best throw of 22.22m in his Olympic buildup in Budapest.OPINION: I can already inhale the jubilant atmosphere on the Olympic sea-side podium – a potent mixture of stale sweat, salt air and fish bait – as the medal winning teams stand proudly beside their boats. The speakers boom with rousing orchestral music. Then the announcement we have all been waiting for: “The Gold medal winning team for Fishing is NEW ZEALAND!” The flag is raised and the national anthem bellows through the crowd. The four strong Kiwi team – Karen, Rangi, Moana and Kev – bow their wind-swept heads to accept gold medals then wave furiously to a flotilla of fishing friends and fiends moored in the harbour with massive grins splitting their flushed sun weathered faces. Sports are usually considered for the Olympics if they are popular, played in four continents and at least 75 countries. Hence, I believe the technical and skilled sport of fishing must be a starter for future Summer Olympics. According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) about 600,000 New Zealanders regularly fling a line into the water, so our odds of selecting a top Olympic team must be rather good as we are a fishy nation. Barry HarcourtPenny Bolger of Te Anau would be a worthy Olympian. READ MORE: 1920 Olympic Games were haunted by war and the Spanish Flu pandemic Coronavirus: Tokyo Olympics Games to be delayed until 2021 Let's make it easier for small countries to host the Games again It is now a simple case of ensuring that the highly coveted sport of fishing gets the nod from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). All we need to do is set up an international non-governmental organisation to sort out the guts of how it will be run, file a petition to the IOC and reel in its support. This includes sticking to the Olympic rules which include drug testing competitors. I am not aware of any fishy folk taking steroids to wind in game fish or trout, so doubt that will be an issue for our anglers. The sport must also increase the ‘value and appeal’ of the Olympic Games, and as millions and millions of people fish, surely it is a no brainer.Fish & Game/StuffMore than 600 anglers took part in the annual Rakaia Salmon Fishing Competition in 2020. As mentioned earlier one of the requirements for sports to be considered for the Games is that they are ‘practiced widely across the world’ which puzzles me for some of the other competitions. I have seen more recreational fishing boats in the water, here and overseas, than I ever have synchronised swimmers. I always feel like throwing in my washing, or a life vest when watching that form of aquatic exercise. Also – I am not meant to call it synchronised swimming anymore – it has been rebranded Artistic swimming to try and improve its popularity. David Ramos/Getty ImagesSurely fishing is a better sport than Artistic swimming, Sally says. Fishing will always be called fishing as it is such a popular world-wide sport and competitors don’t need to wear pegs on their noses or twirl around in glitter and chlorine. Also, I feel Artistic swimming is quite sexist as I have not seen any male athletes swishing in the water which I believe goes against the Games Charter. Maybe they feel intimidated and excluded. Unlike the respectful sport of fishing, which welcomes competitors who identify as nonbinary, transgender, big, small, young, old, male and female. Speaking of which the IOC has officially approved 18 mixed gender events for Tokyo this year including athletics, swimming, table tennis, archery and triathlon. That is double the number compared to the last Olympics held in Rio. The popularity of Olympic sports has obviously changed over the last 3000 years or so. The original Games in Olympia were held every four years in honour of the Geek god Zeus. They included long jump, running, discus throwing, boxing and chariot racing.Jenny Evans/Getty ImagesAngie Scarth-Johnson of Australia competes in climbing. Is that sport as interesting as fishing? Historians believe their popularity waned when the Romans took control and parallel to that earthquakes and fire may have also taken their toll. In 1896 the Games were revived with the first international modern Olympics held in Athens. New competitions such as a marathon, cycling, swimming, shooting, fencing and tennis were included. There will be about 33 different types of sport at this year’s games in Japan. It includes a handful of new competitions such as surfing, karate and skateboarding along with sport climbing. I must question whether climbing up a wall clinging to little knobs like a mollusc is worthy of Olympic inclusion. I respect it is a challenging and very physical activity but one that I associate more with Spiderman movies or kids’ school holiday programmes. Frankly, I will not be getting up in the wee hours of the morning to witness someone reaching a ceiling. But if a Kiwi team were in the final minutes of reeling in a game fish following a feisty and lengthy tussle on the line – that would be a different story. Jae C. Hong/APTokyo even has good fishing venues at the 2020 Olympics. Such demonstrations of strength, teamwork and skill surely fit the Olympic charter. And before some people get their lines in a knot about allegedly being mean to fish here is what the event rules could look like, maybe: A team of four people, of which two must be better fishers – i.e. women. One boat – no longer than 40 feet and maximum speed of 20 knots. Held over two days – weather permitting. Maximum of four hours on the water each day Rod length limited to 10 feet and no electric reels. All must be wound in manually with one hook on each rod. (Lure or bait) No electronic fish finding equipment Day One: Biggest local fish competition. Return to base with one fish species commonly caught off the coast, in lake or river of the Olympic host country (In New Zealand that would probably be a snapper and sea bass in Japan). Only bring one back and release all the rest alive. The one fish returned to be weighed will then be gifted to local restaurants or other Olympic team kitchens. Points will be deducted if other fish die. Day Two: Targeting the biggest fish that can be landed legally, as approved by the IOC. Weigh and measure on boat then release alive. This is a different style of competition since the first, and last, time fishing was included in the Olympics. The year was 1900 and anglers competed on a stretch of the River Seine in France. They stood on the banks and cast out fly lines. There were several qualifying rounds, and sixty anglers were selected for the final. It wasn’t continued as an Olympic sport along with several other competitions including obstacle course swimming, cannon shooting, pigeon racing and firefighting. What a shame. Prior to this year’s Games in Tokyo a pitch was made to the IOC by the International Confederation of Sport Fishing to include angling on behalf of 50 million fisherfolk. It didn’t get a bite. However, I believe that having a more team-based boat fishing competition will reel in support for inclusion in the next Olympics which is scheduled for Paris in 2024.John BissetFishing – what a fantastic spectator sport. The tactical, unpredictable and exciting sport of fishing aligns with the International Olympic Committee’s values of excellence, friendship and respect. It is also played by millions and millions of people around the world and could possibly be the oldest known sport, ever. I am extremely confident Olympic bosses will become hooked about the opportunity to include the world’s most famous sport of fishing in future Games. However, if it slips out of the net by the slimmest of margins, I have proposals for juggling a few other sports. I would recommend ditching artistic swimming for cannon shooting or four-horse chariot racing and introducing the sport of pistol duelling, which doesn’t even need a silver medal included in the winner’s ceremony.
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