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Sky Brown won’t be the tallest member of Team GB, but she’ll certainly stand out as the squad’s youngest-ever summer Olympian, writes Rachel Steinberg.
The 12-year-old skateboarder measures about a foot and a half shorter than her 6’3” mentor, 10-time X Games champion Tony Hawk.
But nothing—not youth, certainly not height, and not even a life-threatening crash last year—will stop Brown from making history in Tokyo.
“There’s so many little girls right now, but if I feel like I’m the little one in there going big, hopefully they’ll think that, ‘maybe I could do it’ and show the world how fun skateboarding is, and how creative it is.”
Brown, who turns 13 on July 12, will usurp Amsterdam 1928 Games swimmer Margery Hinton by 31 days for the youthful honours.
The Miyazaki-born athlete, along with fellow Team GB teen queen Bombette Martin, 14, will compete in park—one of two Olympic disciplines in skateboarding, which will make its Games debut this summer.
The young Brits will aim for big air and big points as they are judged for the technical difficulty and originality of tricks performed in a giant bowl-like structure.
Brown, ranked third in the world heading to Tokyo, has recovered from a horrific accident that left everyone fearing for her life last summer.
The pre-teen fell 15 feet during a training session last summer and was unresponsive after hitting the hard ground below. She was airlifted to the hospital, suffering numerous skull fractures, a broken wrist and a black eye.
Brown was, she said “knocked out for, like, 12-16 hours and it was a really bad time.”
“But I recovered really fast, and getting back on the board I wasn’t scared. I just wanted to get back.”
After taking an impressive silver at the Dew Tour in May, the Olympian is looking forward to inspiring future British board stars along with her Team GB teammate.
“It’s awesome to have a teammate and the best crew,” she gushed.
“I’m so excited to go out there and skate the park and skate with Bombette and have such a great team behind me.
“I feel like sometimes girls are scared to be the only girl and they’re scared to be, maybe like judged by the boys.
“But I feel like watching the Olympics, seeing how many girls are doing the sport and how good and how fun [skateboarding is].
“If they watch the Olympics, especially the girls, they’re going to really want to, which I’m really happy about.”
Team GB Skateboarding Team Leader Darren Pearcy could appreciate all the hype surrounding his young duo, but stressed the range of talent in the sport was proof of its appeal across generations.
He said: “The age thing is important right now, I guess, but we also have some really talented older skateboarders in this country.
“Rune Glifberg will be representing Denmark at 46 years old. There’s a wide spread of skateboarders going to the Games.
“It’s not necessarily about age right now with the girls, this cohort of the girls who have come through in skateboarding with the Olympics is a relatively new thing.
“The levels move really quickly, and a lot of the younger girls are the ones that have come through and really pushed that boundary.”
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