There's a push to make jousting an Olympic sport


England's first national sport - jousting - should take its place among events from weightlifting to tennis as an Olympic discipline, it has been urged.

A new campaign by English Heritage aims to secure a place at the Olympics for one of the oldest equestrian sports in the world.

Members of the Les Amis D'Onno, a living history stunt-performing group, take part in an annual medieval jousting tournament
(Jane Barlow/PA)

The charity, which hosts jousting events at its castles in England in the summer, claims modern jousters need the same levels of fitness, skill and strength as many of the competitors heading to this summer's Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The sport involves competitors with 44lb (20kg) of armour holding a 12ft (3.7m) lance and racing towards their opponents at a gallop of up to 30mph, and English Heritage says it shares similarities with Olympic sports from fencing to equestrian eventing.

English Heritage accepts that any road to the Olympics for the event would be a long one, but said it has international appeal, with jousting tournaments held in countries from Belgium to New Zealand as well as in England.

Olympic rings at the Olympic Park in Stratford, London
(John Walton/PA)

A form of jousting is the official state sport of Maryland in the US, where a campaign is trying to get jousting established as a recognised equestrian sport.

With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) aiming to encourage innovation in the programme, host city Tokyo has put forward five sports - karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, surfing and baseball/softball - for the 2020 Games.

English Heritage's head of projects Lucy Hutchings said: "We want to see jousting take its rightful place at the Olympics table. It is one of the oldest equestrian sports in the world, with its roots in Ancient Greece, and requires similar levels of athleticism and artistry as other official Olympic sports.

"Jousting is a wonderful dramatic spectacle, it is fantastic to watch knights in action against the backdrop of our castles, it would be even better to see it on the Olympics stage."

Knights on horseback take part in an annual medieval jousting tournament
(Jane Barlow/PA)

English Heritage's jousting expert Dominic Sewell added: "Jousting is a sport that requires a huge amount of skill and involves a daily training regime. You have to be strong, not just physically but mentally, so you can sit fearlessly in your saddle, face your rival, and offer yourself as a target.

"And just like the Olympic British equestrian team, we ride beautiful horses to an exceptional level."