Thursday Oct 09, 2014

Manon Carpenter: Downhill would suit Olympic Games

Downhill World Champion Manon Carpenter reckons her sport would get a warm welcome if it joined the Summer Olympics.

Men’s world champion Gee Atherton has called for downhill to join the Winter Olympics, following the success of action sports like slopestyle skiing and snowboarding at Sochi 2014.

But 21-year-old Carpenter, who also won the UCI World Cup title this season, believes there is room for downhill at future Summer Games and insists it could be just as popular as BMX racing was at London 2012.

“I think it would suit the Summer Olympics,” she said. “I know that more extreme sports are in the Winter Games but BMX has been added.

Downhill has such a good following. Everyone who sees it thinks it's crazy!

“I went to watch that in London and it was really gnarly. If that can be in I can’t see any reason why downhill couldn’t be in it as well.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) states that a sport can only be part of the Winter Olympics if it is held on snow or ice.

But the process of selecting new Olympic sports is set to be completely refreshed after the election of new president Thomas Bach – which could mean more hope of approval for non-traditional sports.

“There’s been talk of putting track cycling in the Winter Olympics, because they race in the winter,” added Carpenter.

“Then there would be more space for cycling in the Summer Olympics, possibly for downhill.

“It’s got such a good following. Everyone who sees it is impressed and thinks it looks crazy. It would make it more mainstream but that’s good for the sport.

“Mountain biking is getting so much more popular especially with new trails and bike parks so it’s getting more accessible for everyone.”

 Carpenter in the rainbow stripes alongside BMX racer Liam Phillips at multi-discipline race Parkour Ride 

If downhill did make it into either Olympic program it would almost certainly boost Britain’s medal hopes after they dominated at the World Championships this year.

Welsh rider Carpenter did the downhill double in 2014 - winning the UCI World Cup overall title, before leading a British clean sweep of the podium at the World Championships in Norway.

Rachel Atherton and 19-year-old Tahnee Seagrave finished second and third respectively while Josh Bryceland, who won the men’s World Cup title, picked up silver behind Gee Atherton in Hafjell.

And Carpenter admits it took a while for the incredible achievement, and her outstanding season, to sink in.

“That [all-British podium at Worlds] was really cool,” she added. “I don’t know if that’s happened before so it’s awesome.

“I was really happy for Tahnee as well. She had been riding really well all year but stepped up her game so much that weekend.

“It’s funny how one race is so important. You get the stripes forever and that took a while to sink in.

“It’s definitely a massive achievement and to do both [World Champs and World Cup title] is amazing.”

 Manon Carpenter topped an all-British podium at the 2014 World Championships 

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