By Tom Degun at Westway Sports Centre in London

Lead climbingFebruary 26 - British Mountaineering Council (BMC) chief executive Dave Turnbull has claimed the huge appeal of climbing to young people around the world could help the sport secure a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Climbing is bidding to join the 2020 Olympic programme against baseball/softball, karate, roller sport, squash, wakeboard and wushu.

They will be fighting against wrestling, which has been removed from the core programme of sports after Rio 2016 by the International Olympic Committee Executive Board.

The IOC Session at Buenos Aires in September will decide which sport will be chosen 

Turnball is hopeful that climbing can convince the IOC of their Olympic credentials over the coming months.

"Climbing has a fantastic appeal to young people, more so than many other sports," he told insidethegames.

"If you think of schools, the majority of them now have climbing walls in their playground.

"That isn't just the case in Britain, that is the case right across Europe in major countries like France, where climbing is a way of life.

"I think part of that appeal to young people comes because climbing has all the excitement and adrenaline of the extreme sport that it is.

"It is a very visual, very athletic, very powerful and spectators can see how difficult it is for the athletes.

"Climbers make big dynamic movements on large overhangs holding on by their fingertips and can take big crowd-wowing falls.

"It also includes the grace and poise of gymnastics and the tension and endurance of strength sports, making it a fantastic spectacle to watch.

"In terms of the GB climbing team, it is going from strength to strength and being in the Olympics would give them the recognition and opportunities they deserve.

"So we absolutely back the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) bid to see climbing in the 2020 Olympics."
dave turnbullBMC chief executive Dave Turnbull feels climbing’s appeal to young could help it secure a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games

The IFSC has put forward the discipline of lead climbing - rather than bouldering and speed climbing - in their 2020 Olympic bid, which Turnbull feels will make the strongest case to the IOC.

"When people think of climbing, they think of ropes so the Olympic bid always had to be lead climbing or speed climbing in my opinion," he said.

"Lead climbing is the most popular form of the sport and the first kind of completion there was.

"It is on the biggest, most impressive structure and it is the easiest one to understand as a spectator sport so it is certainly the right choice in my view."

Turnball also highlight the huge benefit the UK would receive in the sport joined the Olympics following a huge increase in popularity in recent years.

The BMC's growing membership is now over 75,000 and the number of public climbing walls in the UK is in excess of 300.

Participation figures from Sport England's Active People Survey also indicate that the number of people mountaineering once a week has increased from 86,100 in 2007-2008 to 98,700 in 2011-2012.

"If we made the Olympics, the whole BMC programme could be professionalised and that would be huge because other mainstream European countries are already further down the line than we are in terms of creating elite programmes for their athletes," said Turnbull.

"So it would absolutely revolutionise the sport here and help increase that fast growing fan base for climbing, particularly with young people."

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