RIO 2016: Dempsey dismay as windsurfing is axed from next Olympics
GREAT Britain's Nick Dempsey and Byrony Shaw admit there might be some mixed emotions should they upgrade previous Olympic medals to gold this summer - because they could be the last windsurfing champions for some time.
END OF ERA: Nick Dempsey is aiming to upgrade 2004 Olympic bronze to gold at London 2012 - winning the world title in Weymouth three years ago. But he could be his sport's last Olympic champion (onEdition)
Former world champion Dempsey, a bronze medallist in Athens, and Shaw, who won bronze in Beijing, are two leading members of Great Britain's sailing team but the discipline has been controversially dropped from the Rio 2016 Olympic programme and replaced with kiteboarding.
Shaw is leading the charge to petition sailing's world governing body ISAF to change their minds while Dempsey, for whom London will be his fourth Games, has admitted concern for the long-term future of the discipline and those who have been working hard to follow his lead, such as British number two Elliot Carney.
"That was big decision and unexpected, it's a very sad day for windsurfing," said Dempsey.
"My heart goes out to all the aspiring champions and kids with dreams of windsurfing at the Olympics."
Last November an evaluation committee was appointed to consider the formats of windsurfing and kiteboarding but most expected it to recommend a halfway house - inclusion at the ISAF World Cup and World Championship level but stopping short of awarding immediate Olympic status.
So leading windsurfers have been stunned their disicipline will also be dropped from the ISAF World Cup programme from next season, while kiteboarding will make its ISAF World Championship debut in Santander in 2014.
"Kiteboarding has proven to us that it is ready to be included into the list of prestigious ISAF events and it is a fantastic addition to the sailing programme for the 2016 Olympic Games," said ISAF president Göran Petersson.
The ISAF Council has also decided to replace the women's match racing event with a double-handed skiff event, meaning the 49er class will now be competed for by both men and women.
And they've restored a catamaran class to the 2016 Games - a mixed event in boats known as Nacra 17.
“Kiteboarding made a solid case for its Olympic inclusion at the March trials and although a surprise that ISAF has voted it into the Olympic programme at this stage, it appears that the council of ISAF wished to seize the opportunity, rather than wait until 2020," said John Derbyshire, performance director of Great Britain's Royal Yachting Association.
“This decision will force the pace of change and the RYA is looking forward to the opportunity of working with kiteboarders and the British Kitesurfing Association in order to develop the talent pathway for this new event, and to using the strengths of our UK Sport lottery funded high performance system that has become the envy of the world so that GBR is well-placed to deliver the first Olympic kiteboarding medals in Rio in four years’ time.”
© Sportsbeat 2012