It will be coach Keith at Games
Combat sport to get its chance at Olympics
World champion Muay Thai fighter Keith McLachlan reckons he could be coaching the next generation of hopefuls for the sport’s first appearance at the Olympic games.
The Croftfoot man’s career in the martial art is littered with domestic and international honours and he feels it’s about time his fellow athletes get a shot at glory with the whole world watching.
Keith spoke to the Reformer following the news of Cheerleading and Muay Thai receiving provisional recognition as Olympic sports in 2016 and both will receive £19,700 in annual funding from the International Olympic Committee.
They can apply to become part of the Olympic Games sports programme after three years but host cities can choose to introduce those currently on a provisional recognition status for a one-off appearance.
And with that in mind, there could be a chance we could see Muay Thai being performed as early as 2020 in Tokyo.
Thirty-seven-year-old Keith, who currently holds the IMF super featherweight world title, admits he has missed the opportunity to compete in front of the world’s media but that won’t stop him from helping both his fighting sons Corey, 14, and Reece, nine, reach their new goal.
“I imagine I’ll be a coach by the time it makes it into the Olympics so it will be my sons that will get a shot at it,” he said.
“I reckon this year will be my last year fighting. It will be my sons who will take part as the younger generation coming through and hopefully get the chance to go wherever the 2024 Olympics are.
“I’m not disappointed the decision to allow it into the Olympics has came at a late time in my career. I’ve done lots and lots of stuff that I never thought I would have when I first started.
“It would be great for the sport in general to get that recognition and then maybe we can look at getting an official body who run the sport in the country.
“It’s not a recognised sport under sportscotland as far as im aware. Wherever the boys go to fight they need to pay their own way. It will give them another target to move towards.”
Muay Thai is an organisation with 135 national federations and nearly 60 are recognised by their national Olympic committees with just under 400,000 registered athletes.
The addition of the martial art and cheerleading would take the number of recognised Olympic sports to 37.
Tokyo’s 2020 Games will have surfing, sport climbing and karate among the six new sports they have included.
And with the possibility of Muay Thai appearing in the Olympics sooner than expected, Keith believes it deserves its recognition on the global stage.
The current UK number one, added: “I imagine if they were going to hold it anywhere they would hold it in Japan as a demonstration sport.
“It’s absolutely huge there. It was mostly kickboxing that was popular for a while but Muay Thai seems to have overtaken that as well now. It’s a massively populated sport all round the world. It just doesn’t get the coverage that it should do, especially in the UK. The coverage is horrendous in the UK.
“But I reckon as an official sport, it will probably be 2024 by the time it’s official.”
Father and sons Keith could be preparing his sons Corey and Reece for the future Olympic Games
Muay Thai Keith holds the world and UK title belts in the sport
Olympic chance Muay Thai