By Nick Butler at the Main Media Centre in Nanjing

ISF President Gary Ream hailed the success of the exhibition at the Skate Lab ©Nanjing 2014International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) President Gary Ream has claimed retaining the sport's "unique" identity is more important than joining the Olympic programme. 

Ream was speaking following the showcasing of skateboarding as one of four exhibition sports - along with roller skating, sport climbing and wushu - at the Sports Lab at the Summer Youth Olympic Games here.

Skateboarding appears to have momentum behind it as a variety of sports jostle to try to get on the Olympic programme, possibly even in time for Tokyo 2020. 

"We felt we were the unique star of the Sports Lab," he told insidethegames.

"As I explained the sport to all the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who attended and watched the exhibition, I could see the excitement in their eyes.

"Our sport has a unique lifestyle and passion and huge youth relevance, we are very special in the minds of the youth, and every part of the sport comes from the heart."

Skateboarder Chris Cole in action at the Sports Lab ©Nanjing 2014Skateboarder Chris Cole in action at the Sports Lab ©Nanjing 2014

A stumbling blocks, however, could be the lack of a recognised International Federation. 

The ISF, set up as recently as 2004 but now boasting more than 80 member countries, is not a member of SportAccord, the umbrella organisation for all International Federations.

Neither is it a member of the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF), a group of 35 non-Olympic disciplines including roller sports, sport climbing and wushu.

There is no specific timetable for joining these bodies, but Ream revealed they have applied to join ARISF.

"We'll see how that political process goes but we feel membership of SportAccord and IOC recognition will take care of itself," he told insidethegames.

"We are in a position to bring skateboarding to the Games, in a way that would benefit both the sport and the Olympic Movement.

"The IOC asked us to apply for recognition and to come for the Youth Olympics, and we have.

"We have done what has been asked and the next decision does not rest with us."

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk is among those to have spoken enthusiastically about the sport being showcased at the Olympics ©Getty ImagesSkateboarding legend Tony Hawk is among those to have spoken enthusiastically about the sport being showcased at the Olympics ©Getty Images

Ream, though, was also clear that skateboarding wishes to join on their own terms.

It wants to avoid a repeat of the experience of snowboarding when it joined the Winter Olympic programme at Nagano in 1998 when there was opposition among several athletes who were unhappy because they believed, as a result, the sport lost much of its unique identity. 

Ream claimed the IOC currently perfectly understand the ISF position on this matter.

"While many sports only exist in a competitive sense, skateboarding is not all about competition," he told insidethegames. 

"It is also about lifestyle and making a living.

"So there will never be a day when the entire skateboarding community believes we should be in the Olympic Games, but a huge amount of people do want to compete, and do want to be in the Games, and we will work hard to achieve that goal."

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