Pole as an Olympic Sport – What chance has the UK?

Pole fitness is, to those who know and understand it, a beautiful art form that requires supreme fitness, agility, grace, musicality and courage. It should be an Olympic sport. However, if it were to become an Olympic sport how well would the UK compete?

It came as a bit of a shock to me to discover that the UK has taken a more Puritanical attitude toward the sport than other countries around the world. No doubt this is to do with historical connotations linking pole dancing with gentlemen’s clubs and ungentlemanly behaviour. But is it not time our governors took their heads out of their ancient statue books and tuned into the 21st century?

I have discovered that pole schools in the UK are not allowed to teach anyone under 16 years of age. I have also learned from my fellow pole teacher, Chloe Anderson, that her proposal to be a part of the city’s ‘People’s Day” was rejected out of hand. People’s Day is an event set up to encourage our citizens to take part in sport and dance.

Thankfully Chloe did not accept this lying down and set up a petition forcing the lead council officer for culture at the time, Paula Murray, to reconsider, her decision in the light of factual information rather than hearsay.

The Pole demo was included in the programme and contributed much to the success of the overall event.

Apart from the historic connotations linking pole with sleaze I guess people may object to the skimpy clothing and sexy dance moves. But I would point to the skimpy outfits worn by track and field athletes and swimmers not to mention the beach volleyball players. These outfits are worn for comfort and to maximise performance. Pole is no different. In this sport it is essential to have as much bare skin as possible as a fundamental of pole discipline is a dependence on skin grip against the metal of the pole.

As for the sexy dance moves I wonder would a gymnast be expelled from a floor competition if she were to move expressively to the music? I think she would be marked up not down. In fact this is something that floor gymnastics has lost in recent years with a move toward more athleticism (powerful tumbling) and less of the ballet element the Soviets brought to the sport. Think back (if you’re old enough) to the days of Olga Korbut and Ludmilla Tourischeva. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqZoYW57l0k

I have a friend who is a teacher in a primary school. She loves pole dancing but can’t ever be a part of the online community sharing pictures and Youtube footage because she fears it could ruin her career! I say to her that far from harming children this would do quite the opposite. She agrees but it is out of her control.

We have a growing problem of obesity in children and it is a concern that they spend too much time in front of computer screens. Surely something as exhilarating and fitness enhancing as pole should be encouraged amongst children of all ages rather than banned?

If pole had been accepted as an Olympic sport in time for the Olympic games in Tokyo Britain would have been at a distinct disadvantage. Our best pole dancers are in their 20s and 30s and probably didn’t start until they were 16 or over. They would have to compete with people like Emily Moskalenko, from Ukraine who was an international performer at the age of 8. She will have at least a 10 year start on our British girls.

Come on Britain do something radical – break down the barriers and allow young people to learn a beautiful sport.



Soozie Campbell