It will be coach Keith at Games

Com­bat sport to get its chance at Olympics

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Back Page - Mur­ray Spooner

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

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