At the Medal Winners Media Conference held after the Medal Ceremony for the Mens and Womens Windsurfing Event at the 2012 Olympics, the new Olympic Medalists were asked their thoughts on the decision to change the event from Windsurfing to Kiteboarding the 2016 Olympics.
Here’s their responses and comments, not just for themselves but for the sport in their countries. They raised some excellent points. They appear in speaking order:
Przemyslaw Miarczynski (Poland, BronzeMedalist): I think it is a bit sad, because we have good coaches and infrastructure for windsurfing, and not for kiteboarding. We have many more young people starting on the windsurfing and they are very good already, winning many medals and awards. We have had windsurfing for several Olympics already, and the Kiteboarding is a completely new discipline.
For Polish windsurfing it is a bad decision.
For me, if the RS:X stays I don’t know if I will have the motivation go to Rio. But if Kiteboarding stays, then I am healthy and quite young, so it may be the motivation for me to make the change and try something completely different. For me I hope that Windsurfing stays and that Kiteboarding will be very good.
Dorian van Rijsselberghe (Netherlands, Gold Medalist): All the basics in Holland have been totally based on windsurfing, and we have been totally overwhelmed by the decision that it is going to be kitesurfing. We don’t have the structure to make it Olympic yet. But for me personally it is a challenge and I am willing to give it a shot. I think some of the other windsurfing guys will also come over onto the Kiteboards.
Nick Dempsey (Great Britain, Silver Medalist): Do you really want to know what I really think?!?
Like the others I think that it is a massive change, that windsurfing has been dropped. For windsurfing it is a massive shame. The RS:X sailors have demonstrated how good a discipline windsurfing is, and how close the racing is (behind Dorian). RS:X is a great class and a fair class within the Olympic Games. I don’t have much time for Kiteboarding. I haven’t really seen a lot of it.
Marina Alabau (Spain, Gold Medalist): Putting in the Kite and taking out Windsurfing is a big mistake. ISAF think there are a lot of people doing Kiteboard racing in the world, there are not. They think there will be more countries competing, I don’t think that will be true. Kiteboard will be more expensive than Windsurfing. Kiteboards do not want a one design class, and I think that this is most important. With windsurfing we know that the athlete is the best and not the equipment. Because Kiteboarding is so new, they cannot be sure of that. Hopefully people will change their mind and windsurfing will stay in November. If they do take out windsurfing, I think we will come back in 2020, once they realise the mistake. We are the most exciting class in the sailing, and people really like to watch us racing. Windsurfing is magic.
Tuuli Petaja (Finland, Silver Medalist): I agree, Windsurfing should stay in the Olympic program. I have done a little bit of Kiteboarding but that was in the winter time, on ice, when all the lakes are frozen. We use a snow board not on the water. Kiteboarding is cool but is not yet our big sport. It is not big enough sport to be in Rio. So I am hoping that windsurfing will remain in the Olympics.
Zofia Klepacka (Poland, Bronze Medalist): I think Windsurfing should stay. Many of the windsurfing schools for the kids are on lakes which are surrounded by forests, and they can’t train for Kiteboarding on those places. They need to travel to where there is ocean or sea. With Windsurfing, everybody can do it – on the lake, on the river, on the ocean and on the sea. With Kites you need to travel to go to good places.
I hope in November that we get 75% to change the decision.
by Richard Gladwell
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1:19 PM Fri 2 Nov 2012GMT
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