The concept of Pole as a sport dates back to 2006, after pole became a popular fitness form in year 2000 and pole competitions started gaining popularity. Competitions had little or no scoring or judging criteria, no way of fairly awarding points to those athletes that were technically and artistically superior. Rules consisted of very little in the way of guidance on what the judges were and were not looking for.
In 2006, a survey was carried out by Katie Coates to see how the pole community felt about Pole Sports becoming an Olympic Sport, over 10,000 voted in favor. In 2008, Tim Trautman of the USA began working with Katie on the International Pole Sports Federation and the term Pole Sports was created transforming Pole forever from a physical activity performed for fitness and socially into to an international sport and competition.
Soon, national federations began forming and competitive teams were organized. The 1st World Pole Sports Championship took place in 2012 with just 43 athletes from 14 countries, and only 5 were men. In 2013, we saw the launch of the youth category with just 7 athletes. Five years later in 2017, we saw over an 80% increase in the youth category with 229 athletes from 36 countries competing.
By mid-2011, an estimated 95% of all Pole Sports athletes were female. As a consequence, the feedback from the IOC has been to improve the balance which the IPSF has pushed forward. In 2017, the male junior and novice categories were opened which helped to increase male participation by more than 70%.
In 2014, the IPSF contacted GAISF regarding the application process and the road to recognition began. The IPSF began aligning itself to the GAISF and IOC criteria over the next 3 years. National federations have expanded to 28 with a further 14 in the application process.
Development of the sport over the years:
2009 – Formation of the IPSF
2012 – First World Championships
2013 – Introduction of a youth program
2014 – First contact with SportAccord (now GAISF)
2014 – Anti-Doping program introduced
2015 – First application to SportAccord (now GAISF)
2016 – Approved as a WADA signatory
2016 – Applied to the IOC for membership
2017 – Signed a trilateral agreement with the FIG and GAISF to allow the
IPSF membership of GAISF
2017 – Observer Status granted by GAISF
2019 – Observer Status with GAISF extended for 2 more years
2021 – Observer Status with GAISF extended for 2 more years