The Youth Olympics, currently underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina, offer several novel new sports that are scheduled to feature at the next Summer Olympic Games.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on October 15, 2018

BMX Freestyle has featured in these games for the first time and will be introduced to full Olympic competition at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

The competition features mixed teams and riders may join forces with international colleagues as they compete across a course studded with ramps and obstacles. The result is a mix of artistry and adrenaline as riders perform flips, jumps and tricks and are scored by judges on difficulty, form, risk, originality and height.

“Our names will be written in history”

Argentinian Inaki Iriartes, who won gold at the BMX Freestyle event at Urban Park said being part of the sport’s beginnings at this level was amazing.

“Our names will be written in history,” he said before competing. “The important thing is that we’ll get more exposure and reach an audience that doesn’t know these alternative sports. I’m not going out there with a medal on my mind. I just want to improve myself.”

The venue is also playing host to exhibitions and initiation sessions for skateboarding ahead of its debut in the 2020 Olympics.

Another interesting new addition is Sport climbing. As with BMX Freestyle, it will be part of the full Olympics in two years’ time.

The sport is a form of climbing that features competitors scaling an artificial rock face via permanent anchors. It has three different formats; the speed wall, boulder and lead. Collectively, the events require explosive strength, endurance, gymnastic ability and technique.

Silver medallist Keita Dohi of Japan said he was “delighted” to win a medal. “I’m also happy because we created a good impression as a sport” he continued. “Sport climbing is going to be recognised in Japan. I hope everyone comes to see it at Tokyo 2020.”

Breaking new ground with breaking

Perhaps the most surprising addition to the Youth Olympics list of sports is breaking, often known as breakdancing. The competitors say they have enjoyed the communal atmosphere at the competition and that they find breaking avoids the rivalries and acrimonies of more traditional sports.

B-Boy Shigekix, a 16-year-old who claimed bronze for Japan, explained that breaking combines two different elements. “One is sports, and one is arts,” he said. “We need the stamina of athletes, but we also need to be artists, and express our feelings. It is great to give joy to the people watching, it gives me pleasure.”

“These crowds in Buenos Aires have been fantastic. We shared the vibes. When I do something crazy, they make noise. That makes me feel good, and I do more crazy things. We build each other up. We make a special moment together. I’m very happy to represent Japan. I’m sad not to win, but now I want to see the sport at the Olympics, and try to win gold.”

Other novel events on show in Argentina include 3×3 basketball, a fast-growing form of the sport.

While neither are part of the Youth Olympics, surfing and karate will also feature in Tokyo for the first time.