Japan Is Golden Again In Tokyo Olympic Skateboarding Competition

Aug 4, 2021
Originally published on August 4, 2021 8:59 am

TOKYO — Young athletes from Japan are dominating in the skateboarding competitions at the Tokyo Olympics. So far, they've won all three gold medals in the skateboarding competitions that debuted during these Games. The latest winner is Sakura Yosozumi, who claimed gold on Wednesday in the park skateboarding final.

The competitors skated around a course built for the Games, doing midair tricks and soaring through the valleys and grinding on and soaring over the lip of the curved concrete walls.

Yosozumi, 19, earned the gold medal, scoring slightly higher than her 12-year-old teammate, Kokona Hiraki. Thirteen-year-old Sky Brown, whose mother is Japanese, represented Great Britain, her father's country. She earned the bronze medal. If Hiraki or Brown had won the gold they would have been the youngest gold medalists in Olympics history.

The three medalists say they've become good friends and that they had fun while competing. Yosozumi said that relaxed, friendly atmosphere made the competition fun. They hugged and walked together arm-in-arm to face reporters after the event.

"It's insane to be here. I'm so happy to be on the podium with these guys. They're so amazing. Everyone ripped," said Brown. During her routine, she performed several 540 turns, twirling with her board 1 1/2 times in the air. Brown, who divides her time between Japan and California, has been a skateboarding sensation. She has a popular YouTube channel with her little brother Ocean, and she was the first winner of Dancing with the Stars, Junior. She wrote a book to empower young girls, and she recorded a song and music video called "Girl."

Brown said getting her bronze medal was like a dream. "Skateboarding is a very beautiful sport. There's no rules in skateboarding," she said. "I think more people are gonna start skating now."

Yosozumi told reporters there aren't many skateparks in Japan. She said her family built one at her home, and that's where she practiced to get good enough to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Last week, 22-year-old Japanese athlete Yuto Horigome won the first gold medal in the men's street skateboarding competition and 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya won the gold in the women's street skateboarding competition.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Silver medalist Kokona Hiraki of Japan (from left), gold medalist Sakura Yosozumi of Japan and bronze medalist Sky Brown of Britain pose during a medals ceremony for the women's park skateboarding at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.
Ben Curtis / AP