Skaters roll out preparations for possible Olympic inclusion
DON'T ever accuse skateboarding of going mainstream, but that's where it's headed as the sport organises itself for possible inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The driving force behind re-organising skateboarding around regular competition and access to training through The Australian Skateboarding Federation is solicitor Guy Gibbons, a key player in setting up The Board Meeting Corporate Surf charity here.
Mr Gibbons, who once ran a sports management company, says Australia has the world number one junior male and female skaters but received zero federal funding and until a year ago had no pathway program for elite athletes or infrastructure.
"We've got two world champions and no (competition) circuit," Mr Gibbons said.
He has met the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games delegation head and secured a commitment that skateboarding will be placed on show at various venues.
"It won't be a demonstration sport," Mr Gibbons said. "But they want us doing demonstrations at venues."
The King of Concrete Queensland Championships of Bowl Skateboarding were held in Coolum last month with $10,000 worth of prizes. The Australian titles are scheduled for the Gold Coast in February.
South-east Queensland is a hub for the sport because of local authority investment in skate parks. The Sunshine Coast is home to 22, Brisbane 39 and the Gold Coast in the high 30s.
Australia now has more skaters per head of population of any country in the world.
"They built them but nothing followed," Mr Gibbons said. "Skateboarding has a very cruisy, supportive vibe it gets from surfing."
The sport is also borrowing heavily from the way surfing structures itself.
"It's been building faster than I would have liked," Mr Gibbons said of the rapid pace the organisational structures are being pulled together.
He's held discussions with Surfing Australia and is replicating its national ranking system, coaching accreditation and contest star ratings.
"It's all coming together," Mr Gibbons said. "Promoters' handbooks, all those tools didn't exist a year ago."
The Queensland titles in Coolum were an eye-opener for both Mr Gibbon and council representatives.
Young competitors from Sydney and Melbourne hit town for week-long practice sessions ahead of the event and pro-skater and former World Cup Vert points champion Renton Millar arrived to a rock star welcome.
A Shredders Series, due to start in earnest in 2016, has been piloted on the Sunshine Coast this year.
Young skaters can now train two days a week at the skate bowl of their choice with a Saturday competition, a format familiar to parents from other sports.
The Australian Sports Commission is now considering an application for formal recognition, an outcome which would unlock federal funding.
"Local authorities are also keen to see after-school coaching programs rolled out," Mr Gibbons said.
Parents can now register their children through a phone app with the accredited coach on the spot.