London 2012: Windsurfers open Olympic petition after axe

Thousands have signed an online petition  to keep windsurfing as an Olympic discipline after it was dropped from the Rio 2016 Olympic programme.

Kiteboarding will replace windsurfing after London 2012 following a decision by sailing's world governing body.

"Surprised was my over-riding reaction, it was a bit of a shock and not really expected," Olympic windsurfing bronze medallist Nick Dempsey told BBC South.

"It's a real shame for all the small clubs and the windsurfing community."

Kiteboarding v windsurfing

  • Kiteboarding - a wind powered surface watersport using a kite and a board to move across the water
  • Windsurfing - a wind powered surface watersport using a sail attached to a board to move across the water

Dempsey, who won bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is set to compete in his fourth Games this summer.

The 31-year-old had always planned to retire after the London Olympics but said the news remains a massive blow to the future of the sport, which he believes depends on the publicity generated by the Games.

"It is a real shame for all the windsurfers around the world, especially the kids who have been training their whole lives and whose dream is to go to the Olympic Games," he said.

"It's not such a big deal for me as I was planning to retire from windsurfing after this Olympics anyway, so from that respect it does not have a massive effect.

"I just think it is a shame for the sport. I don't think they (the International Sailing Federation or Isaf, sailing's governing body) think much, to be honest with you. I think they have made a massive mistake.

GB will embrace kitesurfing says sailing boss

"Bringing in kitesurfing is fine, it has a lot of really positive aspects to it. It's just the way they took windsurfing out, Sailing has eight classes, windsurfing has one. So to kick out windsurfing seems pretty short-sighted to me. It's very unfair and not quite right.

"I don't know what their thinking is. I'm sure they feel they are moving the sport forward and keeping up with the times, but they've done it in the wrong way.

"The sport (kiteboarding) is dangerous, there are a lot of accidents and it is something Isaf haven't considered properly. Windsurfing had an amazing network of clubs across the world."

Announcing the change at the weekend, Isaf president Goran Petersson said: "Kiteboarding has proven to us that it is ready to be included into the list of prestigious Isaf events and it is a fantastic addition to the sailing programme for the 2016 Olympic Games."

But Weymouth-based Dempsey still hopes there will be a change of heart, with windsurfing being given a late reprieve.

"Kitesurfing got in by one vote. They have another conference in November and they need a two-thirds majority to overturn it and that might be quite difficult," he said.

"It's a big shock to the windsurfing community and is something they are going to work very hard on to get us back in."