English Heritage lobbies for jousting at 2020 Olympics
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English Heritage lobbies for jousting at 2020 Olympics

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English Heritage has launched a campaign to turn one of its most popular summertime events into a fully-fledged Olympic sport, with the cultural body lobbying to get jousting recognised.

Recognised as England's first national sport, English Heritage argues that jousting should be added to the Olympic portfolio as one of the world’s oldest equestrian sports.

A popular draw during the summer months for England’s castles, today’s modern jousters need to be in peak physical condition and reach a high skill level to adequately perform in the modern-day version of the sport. The event pits two competitors wearing 44lb (20kg) of armour against each other, both armed with a 12ft (3.7m) lance as they charge towards each other at speeds of up to 30mph (48kmph) trying to knock their opponent off their horse.

English Heritage said it had held preliminary talks with International Olympic Committee (IOC) and and the Fédération Equestre Internationale, however the IOC said it was "unaware" of any request for inclusion. Today English Heritage has launched an online petition to give its bid weight.

The IOC is currently in the process of making its Olympic programme more flexible, introducing new rules that allow the host nation of each Games to make its own proposals for additional events.

“Given what sports have been submitted to the Olympics over the years, I don’t think there is any reason that something which has been a sport for over a thousand years should not be considered,” said Dominic Sewell, jousting expert for English Heritage. “If the sport organises itself, there is no reason why we could not be ready for Tokyo.”

Jousting hit its sporting peak through the 15th and 16th centuries, with King of England Henry VIII one of its most high profile advocates. It has its supporters outside of the UK too, with tournaments held in a number of countries, while the US state of Maryland has recognised it as its official sport since 1962.

The IOC has a history of changing its sporting lineup, with events such as beach volleyball, golf and baseball all coming in and out of the Olympic programme at certain times. Currently being considered as additions for the 2020 Games are baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, climbing and surfing.

English Heritage has a number of jousting tournaments lined up through the summer, with events taking place at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight and Dover Castle in Kent among others.

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English Heritage has launched a campaign to turn one of its most popular summertime events into a fully-fledged Olympic sport, with the cultural body lobbying with Olympic chiefs to get jousting recognised in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
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