There was some awkwardness at the first Olympic medalist press conference for women’s skateboarding. Winners alternated between appearing bored, bashful, and uninterested.
One of them even hid her gum-chewing under her mask.
Their fingernails were painted in a rainbow of hues, and some even had emoji faces painted on them. When the grownups sounded exasperated, they responded with one-word answers, doubled down, and then nervously chuckled amongst themselves.
Winners fidgeted nervously with their medals, flowers, and the sports drink that had been strategically put on the podium. What this means is that they acted entirely like typical adolescents.
The two women that placed first and second in the Olympic debut of women’s skateboarding are a combined 26 years old. That’s eight years less in age than the person who came in fourth. Perhaps ten feet in height if they stood shoulder to shoulder.
The bronze medalist brings the total to 42, which is close to the average age of the U.S. equestrian jumping squad.
Osaka, Japan’s Momiji Nishiya won with a score of 15.26 Despite Botching her first two Tricks.
There are two 45-second runs and four tricks, and the lowest three scores are discarded. Only a few months younger than Nishiya, Brazilian Rayssa Leal placed second with a score of 14.64; had she won, she would have set a new record for the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Funa Nakayama, a Japanese teenager, won bronze at age 16.
Having made history as teenagers, they didn’t want to be treated like children.
For Nishiya, “age” is not a factor.
However, the elderly were more open to discussion, which helped put the situation in context. This concept of “older” is relative.
Keet Oldenbeuving, a 16-year-old Dutchman, remarked, “Thirteen years old, that’s crazy.” And the greatest ones, to boot! Our sport has a bright future ahead of it.
As much as the lack of spectators at Ariake Urban Sports Park lessened the event’s apparent importance, it also gave it a more celebratory vibe. Basically, like spending the day at a skatepark.
In between runs, the participants hung out on the course’s outskirts, kicking back in their boards and high-end footwear to cheer on their fellow competitors and exchange embarrassed smiles after falls.
Skaters’ grunts, whoops, and in-game banter could be heard live and on air. It was said that Filipino competitor Margielyn Didal asked her coach, “Are you crying?” after she completed her final trick in the preliminary round and received a high enough score to advance to the finals.
“No man, it’s just dusty in here,” was his Response.
The limited crowd looked notably animated by Leal, the lone Brazilian competitor, despite their standing as pre-competition favourites to potentially sweep the podium.
This is despite the fact that three Japanese skaters made it to the finals, which was praised by the local media. She sported braces and cargo trousers with her long hair hanging loose.
She makes up for her age disadvantage with a large number of Instagram followers. With over two million and three hundred thousand followers on the service, she undoubtedly ranks among the sport’s elite.
It’s symbolic of her place in Generation Z and her unique path to the sport. The video of Leal, then 7 years old, heel flipping off the stairs in a brilliant blue princess dress and a pair of wings was posted online by skateboarder Tony Hawk and quickly went global, garnering Leal the nickname “Little Fairy” and putting her on the route to the Olympics.
She is a Genius.
We can’t say enough good things about her. Seeing this in person is just mind-blowing. The same goes for Momiji. Alexis Sablone, the lone American rider in the finals, remarked of the judges, “They’re outstanding.” Despite having the best trick score of the day, Sablone still placed fourth.
For a very long period, much fewer women participated. Now that it has received sufficient media exposure, perhaps young women all across the world will be encouraged to take up skating. I’m telling you, you can find a Rayssa—a freak of nature, a truly unique person. Seeing this in person is just mind-blowing.
I can guarantee that by the time the Olympics roll around in Paris in 2024, I won’t trust my eyes. I can’t wait to watch it from the stands.
The Olympic Competition in Skateboarding will be only the Second time the Sport has been Included.
Since it was announced in 2016 that the counterculture lifestyle will be presenting alongside more mainstream sports in Tokyo, the inclusion has been a source of ambivalence among the skateboarding community.
The next generation of great skateboarders are seizing the opportunity to compete on this stage and using it as an opportunity to preach, as seen by the fact that the whole podium is comprised of teenagers.
When asked how it will feel to see her classmates again after returning from the Olympics, Leal said that she hoped to throw a great party.
Furthermore, “I can now persuade my entire social circle to skateboard everywhere with me.”