Golf at the Olympics?

Last updated at 09:03 12 May 2004

Greg Norman's belief that golf should be inducted into the Olympics for the 2008 Games in Beijing has been heartily endorsed by world number eight Padraig Harrington.

The Irishman even welcomed the idea that an Olympic title might one day supplant the current majors as golf's grandest prize of all - the major of all majors.

"I'd love to play. It would be unbelievable. It is a big deal in Ireland to be an Olympian and I'd be there, that's for sure. I'd be very, very keen," he said today.

"I know professional golfers say we have our four majors, but they weren't the four majors 70 years ago.

"Maybe in 50 years' time the Olympics could be the number one major. It has to start somewhere."

Rare Irish gold

Since becoming an independent nation, only five Irish athletes have ever won an Olympic gold medal, dating back to 1928 when hammer thrower Pat O'Callaghan won his first of two.

Swimmer Michelle Smith, who won three golds in Atlanta 1996, is the most recent and Harrington would relish the opportunity to join the list of exalted individuals.

"Beijing 2008 would be great, I'd put it in my schedule now. It's a big deal being an Olympic athlete, especially when you are from a small country," he said.

"They have been talking about it for a number of years now. I think golf should be in the Olympics full stop.

"It is another issue whether it should be professional or amateur. There is a very strong amateur association that could govern it but the Olympics has maybe moved away from its ideals of amateurism to ideals of the best."

Norman has long been an advocate of golf taking its place at the Olympic table but his previous campaigns for its inclusion - aimed at both Sydney in 2000 and Athens this summer - have fallen on deaf ears.

Golfing host nation

With the Olympics heading to China, one of the most thriving golfing nations in the world, Norman insisted Beijing 2008 would be the ideal occasion for the sport to be given its chance.

"I think golf should be in the Olympics. The way golf has grown here in China over the last four or five years, it is worthy," he said.

"Golf is growing in China like no other country in the world and I think what you are seeing now is just the tip of the sphere.

"I love being involved in the growth of the game of golf. To include golf in the Olympics would be a dream for me as a player and someone who promotes the sport. I would love to see it there."

Decision day is over a year away, with the International Olympic Committee not meeting to review the Olympic programme until July 2005 in Singapore and golf's inclusion could only come at the expense of another sport.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now