Parkour: The new gymnastics discipline to ‘overcome’ Oceania

The goal of practicing parkour is to maintain good physical and mental health, and to keep moving over the long term despite the obstacles we face in our lives.

In 2020, four Fijian athletes certainly overcame many obstacles to become the first Fijians licenced by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) to compete internationally. Atunaisa Laqeretabua, Jason Adrian, Peter Yee and Taani Tevite represented their country in the E-FISE FIG Parkour Virtual Competition in September 2020, which attracted over 20 million viewers. One of those obstacles involved completing WADA online training in order to secure the FIG licence – not such an easy task when English is your second language and getting online involves several trips into town to access the network!

In Port Moresby, gymnastics coach and Parkour athlete, Karl Peter Giwi, has overcome his own obstacles and despite the centre where gymnastics classes are usually conducted being commandeered as a COVID hospital, Karl is using his own resources to train up-and-coming youth in Parkour “to be productive and innovative in their own walks of life.” A team of Parkour athletes in Papua New Guinea will be ready to compete at the next Virtual Parkour Competition (rumoured to be planned for 2021).

One obstacle that has not stood in the way of Australian Parkour athletes, Stephania Zitis and Anna Yamashita, is being women in a male-dominated discipline. In 2019, Stephania ranked 7th in the Women Speed and Anna ranked 7th in the Women Freestyle World Cup Ranking Lists.  Together they aim to “help women in similar situations and to generally raise awareness on the issues we face.”

Now, more than ever, as we all strive to overcome the massive obstacle that is COVID-19, it is important to maintain good physical and mental health, and Parkour is the perfect sport to foster these. But if health alone is not enough incentive, consider the possibility that Parkour could be included in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games! The IOC Executive Board will decide in December 2020 on the final Paris 2024 Olympic Event Programme, taking into consideration requests from 20 of the 27 Olympic International Federations for changes. FIG has requested the inclusion of Parkour in the 2024 programme and it is considered that there is a significant chance this request may be approved…!