[Matthew_MH | Hertfordshire Mercury]

A Ware woman has “achieved the impossible” by getting pole dancing officially recognised as a sport.

Katie Coates, 41, president of the international pole sports federation (IPSF), is now aiming to become a part of the Olympic Games.

She began the long road to getting pole dancing recognised as a sport in 2006, when she started a petition to get it into the Olympics which attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

Explaining how she got involved in pole sports, Katie said: “In the early 2000s people started doing it as fitness and taking away the sex stigma, so no high heels and making it accessible for average people.

“Pole dancing is not like everyone thinks it is, you need to actually watch it to understand.”

“Competitions started but they were very amateur, with friends of friends doing the judging. My goal initially was to make it more professional.”

"I feel like we have achieved the impossible, everyone told us that we would not be able to get pole dancing recognized as a sport."

— Katie Coates

After the success of the petition in 2006, Katie “dropped everything” and began working with the global pole dancing community to turn it into a sport.

In 2009 the international pole sports federation was officially launched, with Katie as the president, and they held their first world championships in 2012 to coincide with the Olympics.

A total of 45 athletes, including five men, competed in the competition.

However they found that the process to get pole dancing recognised as a sport by the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) was a bit of a “chicken and the egg” situation.

“We had to come up with a scoring system, rules and anti-doping process, everything you would associate with a sport like football,” Katie said.

“For the last three years we have been doing anti-doping tests, but this year was the first that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has tested our athletes. None of them have failed.

“To officially become a sport you need federations in 40 countries across four continents, and they need to be recogniZed by the highest sporting body in their countries.”