When athletes from across Australia and New Zealand next month converge on Cairns for the Australian Pole Sports Federation’s (APSF) second annual national competition, they will be competing in a newly recognised sport with Olympic aspirations.
- The second National Australian Pole Sports Championship is happening in Cairns in June
- In December the Global Association of International Sports Federation officially recognised pole sports
- Athletes say there is a big difference between pole dancing and pole sports
But do not call them pole dancers.
Athletes are quick to point out the difference between pole sports and pole dancing, with pole sports requiring the same amount of athleticism as gymnastics.
In December 2020, the Global Association of International Sports Federation officially recognised pole dancing as a sport and was also reviewing it to become an Olympic sport in 2024.
Regardless of these announcements some people still regard pole dancing as a sport with a stigma.
Mikki Rhoades is the president of the APSF and said the upcoming national competition was an opportunity for Australian pole athletes to qualify for the world championships in Switzerland in October.
“They are being held in Cairns because the APSF was founded in Cairns by local passionate athletes,” Ms Rhoades said.
“So far, we have 14 athletes registered from across Australia and we are also looking to welcome some athletes from New Zealand.
Jude Perrett took to the pole in 2008 and started competing in 2014, she was also part of the founding committee of the APSF.
“I’ve been to the world championships twice,” she said, “first in 2017 and then again in 2019 in Montreal where four of us represented Australia”.
“Even though we were disappointed with our score we were very proud to put on the green and gold tracksuit and represent Australia.”
Ms Perrett said they set up the APSF in Australia because they had to travel overseas to qualify for the worlds.
“My doubles partner and I had to travel to Germany to qualify for the world championships in 2017,” she said.
“When we got back to Australia, we decided that we needed to get Australia on board.
“So, we set up the APSF and we are now part of the International Pole Sports Federation.”
Even though pole sports had a stigma, Ms Perrett said there was a big difference between pole sports and pole dancing.
“People are not quite sure what they are going to see when they come to a competition, but they are just blown away when they see the athleticism, the artistry, and the strength and the flexibility of the athletes.”
The IOC has announced it was looking at pole sports as a possible inclusion in the Olympics, which Ms Perrett said was what they were all working towards.
“At the moment, there are 34 member federations from around the world and the next step is to get pole sports recognised as an official sport in as many of those countries as possible.
“We are currently getting our application together for the Australian Sports Commission and we are hoping to apply this year.”
The Australian Pole Sports Federation’s second national competition will be held on June 27 at the Cairns basketball stadium.
“There will be several parts of the competition being run on the day, including pole sports, hoop sports, and there will also be artistic pole and artistic hoop sports,” Ms Perrett said.
“Everybody is welcome, it’s free entry, and I’m sure they will be blown away by the athletes and the choreography.”