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June 16, 2009
Rollersports promote youth appeal

YOUTH APPEAL: (L-R) FIRS President Sabatino Aracu, General Secretary Roberto Marotta and Derek Parra, a former world champion inline skating champion-turned Olympic speedskater.

By Roslyn Morris, Secretary General, AIPS

LAUSANNE, June 16, 2009 – “Our world is fantastic, magical, and ecological”.

This was the message Sabatino Aracu, President of the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) gave yesterday in Lausanne.

The FIRS bid features roller speed skating street races, events which already are included on the Asian Games and Pan America Games programmes.

"If the IOC wants to get young people with a new, dynamic sport they can follow our proposal," FIRS general secretary Roberto Marotta said.

"We don't need any facilities. We can do it in a car park or a road."

US former world inline skating champion Derk Parra was part of the FIRS team. He switched to ice skating in the late 1990's in order to compete at an Olympic Games in speed skating. At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Parra won gold in the 1500m and silver in the 5000m.

"My dream now is for the youth of the roller world," Parra told the IOC Executive Board yesterday.

"My dream is for the countless children, who are at this very moment, skating on roads and trails within their own towns and cities. My dream is for the children in the parks and in the rinks, putting on their skates for the very first time. My dream is that they will not have to give up on the sport that they have grown to love, that instead, they will continue to grow and be empowered to excel through their experiences in life on skates - all in pursuit - of an Olympic dream."

According to FIRS rollersports are practiced by more than 50 million skaters world-wide, in all the five continents. At the 2008 World Championships, 550 athletes representing 57 countries participated. 14 nations representing 4 continents won medals.

"It is an individual, non-violent sport, practiced by men and women equally, competing in the same distances. A clean sport observing all WADA anti-doping rules. 104 Tests were carried out on skaters at the 2008 World Championships," Marotta told the IOC Executive Board.

Roller Speed Skating is a sport where average speeds of 43.8 km/ph are recorded with peaks of 60 Km/Ph during sprints. Results are calculated by time keeping and photo finish.

FIRS proposes 10 medal races over three days – five each for men and women. The races will cover distances over 500m and 1000m, with 10km and 15km elimination races, and a marathon to be run on the same course as the traditional event.

“It doesn’t take a lot of money to participate in our sport. It is the sport of the 21st century and the IOC was impressed with the quality of our video and presentation,” Marotta told the media following his federation’s presentation.

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