By Duncan Mackay

KiteboardingMay 6 - Windsurfing has been controversially axed from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and replaced by kiteboarding, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has announced at its mid-year meeting in Stresa, Italy.

Kiteboarding has been described as combining wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport and has been chosen to make its debut at Rio following the report of an evaluation group appointed by the ISAF.

The decision to include it in Rio at the expense of windsurfing took most experts by surprise, including Britain's Nick Dempsey, the 2004 Athens Olympic bronze medallist.

He wrote on his Facebook page: "Wow, unexpected.

"That was a big decision and a very sad day for windsurfing.

"My heart goes out to all the aspiring champions and kids with dreams of windsurfing at the Olympics."

It means that windsurfing's last appearance in the Olympics for the foreseeable future will be at Weymouth and Portland, the venue for the sailing events at this year's Olympics.

"These announcements mark a new era for sailing and we welcome the new classes into the ISAF family," said Göran Petersson, the President of the ISAF.

"The equipment selections have fulfilled the criteria set out by the Evaluation Panel and we look forward to seeing the boats not only at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the ISAF Sailing World Cup and ISAF Sailing World Championships."

Barbara Kendall_sailboardingWindsurfing had been part of the Olympic programme since making its debut at Los Angeles in 1984, with its most successful athletes having included New Zealand's Barbara Kendall (pictured), who won a gold medal at Barcelona in 1992, silver at Atlanta in 1996 and bronze in Sydney 2000.

Kiteboarding claims to have its roots in 19th century England when a teacher called George Pocock invented the Charvolant", which was used to propel carts on land and ships on the water.

But its modern incarnation is traced to Germany's Dieter Strasilla, who in the late 1970s developed parachute-skiing and later perfected a kiteskiing system using self made paragliders and a ball-socket swivel allowing the pilot to kitesail upwind and uphill but also to take off into the air at will.

Germany's Kristin Boese, a nine-time world kiteboarding champion, led the celebrations.

She wrote on her Facebook page: "KITEBOARDING IS FREAKING IN!!!! RIO OLYMPICS 2016 HERE WE COME!!!! oh my gosh... we can not believe it yet... so much amazing work the IKA has done over the past 2.5 years... thanks so much for everyone that has supported us along the way!!!"

The ISAF's Council took some other significant decisions, including restoring a catamaran class for 2016, adding the Nacra 17.

It has also replaced women's match racing event with a women's high performance skiff event, choosing the 49erFX.

The events to be contested at the 2016 Olympics have been confirmed as:

Men's kiteboarding; women's kiteboarding; men's one-person Dinghy - laser; women's one-person dinghy - laser radial; men's one-person dinghy (heavy) - Finn; men's two-person dinghy - 470; women's two-person dinghy - 470; men's skiff - 49er; women's skiff - 49er FX; mixed two-person multihull - Nacra 17

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