Great Britain’s baseball and softball teams are bullish on the prospect of qualifying for the 2028 Olympics.
‘America’s pastime’ is one of a series of sports added by LA 2028 organisers, joining cricket, lacrosse, squash and flag football in the biggest shake-up to the Olympic programme in a generation.
Cricket’s inclusion might pique most interest but GB have a track record of recent outstanding results in another bat and ball sport that will feature in five years’ time.
Both the men’s baseball team and the women’s Fastpitch team hold European silver medals, ranked 18th and 12th in the world respectively.
“The trajectory we are on is so exciting and the key now is the in-depth planning to maintain that,” said BaseballSoftballUK Head of Performance Gary Anderson.
“We have in place knowledgeable and experienced staff leading the process and both squads, by our own design, are very young, so that in 2028 they will be at their peak.
“We have a very talented group of athletes who are so excited that the sports will be part of the medal programme at the 2028 Olympic Games.”
The qualification system for new LA 2028 sports will be confirmed in early 2025, with IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell confirming that six nations will feature in the field for the new team sports.
Typically, Olympic qualification systems contain ‘continental quotas’ to ensure a range of regions are represented. Given Great Britain’s strength on the European stage in baseball and softball, they have caused to be confident of qualifying in the sport by right for the first time.
Coached by Tara Henry, Great Britain’s softball team were one game away for qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
They claimed the scalps of world No.3 team Chinese Taipei and Australia at this summer’s Softball World Cup.
Drew Spencer’s men made a historic World Baseball Classic debut in March. A maiden victory over Colombia ensured GB have qualified for the next edition of baseball’s premier international competition in 2026.
Both squads have benefitted from UK Sport funding for the last four years as part of the National Squads Support Funding stream.
Anderson is one of the most experienced and respected figures in British high performance sport having led Olympic teams in curling, bobsleigh, judo and karate.
He said: “Everything we have achieved over the last two years was because we believed that our sports would be included in the programme for LA2028.
“I have been so fortunate to lead teams at previous Olympic Games; there is nothing else like it and I know that we can inspire and change lives forever with this opportunity.”
Image: Mel Maclaine/WBSC