‘I really hope I inspire some girls,’ the 13-year-old said
Team GB’s Sky Brown has won bronze in the women’s skateboarding final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, making her the youngest medallist in British history. Having boarded since the age of three, and surfed since the age of four, the British-Japanese competitor has been a fixture in the skateboarding world ever since.
Her medal-winning run is a joy to watch, swooping seamlessly up and down the park’s concrete bowl and landing a kickflip indy to the soundtrack of Blur’s “Parklife”, a track released 14 years before she was born.
“It was a super sick final,” Brown told BBC Sport. “The medal feels unreal, it’s like a dream. I can’t wait to show the medal to my family and friends.”
“I really hope I inspire some girls,” she continued. “I feel like people think I’m too young and I can’t do it but, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I believed in myself and I’m here.”
Brown would’ve been the youngest medallist from any country if it wasn’t for Japan’s Kokona Hikari, who is six weeks younger than her. On the podium, the average age was 15; Sakura Yosozumi of Japan, 19, won the event, while Kokona Hiraki, 12, took the silver medal, and 13-year-old Brown got the bronze.
While there’s a clear pattern of younger competitors being attracted to the sport, it’s not all teenagers: Rune Glifberg (also known as “The Danish Destroyer”) is a comparatively ancient 46 – so much so that he appeared as a playable character in the original PlayStation version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in 1999.
Last year, Sky Brown was left fighting for her life after falling 15ft off a ramp in a training accident, fracturing her skull in the process. “I’m just gonna get back up and push even harder,” she said in an emotional video from her hospital bed. Although Brown’s parents (understandably) tried to persuade her to quit the sport following the injury, she said she knew she was always going to be competing in Tokyo regardless.
And if incredibly young athletes securing historic wins wasn’t life-affirming enough, the female skaters comforting and supporting one another was even more heartwarming. After 15-year-old Misugu Okamoto missed the landing of a trick, which slid her into fourth place, she was instantly surrounded by her rivals from Japan, Australia, and Brazil, hugging one another.
Look back at what skateboarders thought about the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics when it was first announced in 2016 here.