English Heritage wants one of the world’s oldest equestrian events to be recognised as an Olympic Sport – they hope to see jousting feature in the next Olympic Games.
The charity, which cares for and protects over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites across the country, claims that jousting should be considered the first national sport. To this end, they have launched an online petition to promote jousting ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, which is to begin next month.
Their petition claims that ‘today’s jouster needs the same level of athleticism and agility, skill and strength as many of the would-be Olympic medal winners heading to Rio this summer’.
Jousting is a sport which can be traced back to the Middle Ages; it was intended for military training but soon became a form of popular entertainment.
Both knights must wear 44lb of steel armour – including a helmet – and wield a 12lb lance. Racing on horseback towards one another, the sportsmen attempt to strike their opponent with their lance to knock him down; clashes between knights often ended in injury or death.
It is widely believed this is where the salute came from – a symbolic ‘raising of the visor’ on a knight’s helmet, a sign of respect. The salute is used across the Armed Forces and has been for centuries.
Medieval knights turned to jousting to showcase their strength, skill and horsemanship, with the first recorded tournament held in 1066. The spectacle was a favourite of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, who both patronised the sport.
England’s most notorious Monarch was such a fan of the sport, he often took part himself. On 24th January 1536 during one competition, Henry VIII was thrown from his horse, which then fell on top of him, fully clad in its own armour: the King was left unconscious for two hours. A combination of a leg injury from the accident and likely brain injuries, the King – once sporty and generous – became unpredictable, paranoid and vicious.
If you would like to see this sport recognised for the Olympic Games you can sign a petition here. Jousting will first have to be recognised as an Olympic sport and then will be scrutinised for a period of at least seven years before it can be played.
We think this could be rather fun, and would certainly remind people of the sport’s heritage. What do you think?