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For years, pole dancing suffered by association. An athletic pursuit that sees dancers spin, jump and slide, the medium was grounded by its tawdry connotations: of late nights, dark rooms, and risqué moves for a paying clientele.

That now looks set to change, after the Global Association of International Sports Federation recognised pole dancing as an official sport. 

The move marks an historic moment in the professional life of Katie Coates, 41, from Hertfordshire, who set up the International Pole Sports Federation in 2009 and has campaigned for sports status. Ms Coates can now apply for membership of UK Sport and the British Olympic Committee, which could allocate it national and UK Lottery funding in the future.

Not all hobbies are so fortunate. In 2015, government funding body Sport England provoked anger by refusing to recognise bridge as a sport. The English Bridge Union (EBU), which sought legal action to challenge the decision, insisted its game involves “undoubted levels of mental skill” with “known health benefits”.


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