Yesterday (July 25), skateboarders made their debut at the delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, marking the sport’s inaugural inclusion at the quadrennial Games. Today (July 26), just one day after Tokyo-born Yuto Horigome took the gold in the men’s street skateboarding, the host country is celebrating another historic win, as 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya has become the first person to win gold in the women’s competition.
If that wasn’t enough, Nishiya’s win also makes her the second youngest champion in the history of the summer Olympics, narrowly beaten by Marjorie Gestring, who was 62 days younger when she won the gold for women’s springboard diving in 1936.
And, if even that wasn’t enough, Nishiya’s closest competition was Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, who’s just a few months younger than the Japanese skateboarder, and who – had she taken gold not silver – would have become the youngest ever female gold medalist in the summer Games.
Nishiya took the title after scoring 15.26, while Leal got 14.64 and Japan’s 16-year-old Funa Nakayama won bronze with 14.49. As reported by The New York Times, Nishiya stole the show after landing her final three tricks for big scores.
“I didn’t think I could win, but everyone around me cheered me on so I’m glad I was able to find my groove,” Nishiya told The Guardian.
22-year-old Margielyn Didal from the Philippines also took part in skateboarding’s inaugural Games, and told The Guardian she was pleased to see so many young people representing the sport. “All the medalists are super young, imagine that?” she said. “It’s history, and I’ve just witnessed it. First ever Olympics and I was able to skate with them. For those young kids, or just for girls or for everyone out there that wants to start skating, I want to tell them to just skate and enjoy it. Keep safe, wear some safety gear. Nothing is impossible.”
Skateboarding at the Olympics emulates the real-life street sport, with skaters rattling over stairs, rails, and ledges. Athletes are judged for skill and style over two runs of 45 seconds and five individual tricks, before the top eight head into the final. There will also be a park competition next week, which will see contestants skate a “giant, feature-filled” bowl.
Watch a clip of Nishiya skateboarding below, and look back at what skateboarders thought about the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics when it was first announced in 2016 here.