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Skateboarding takes leap towards Tokyo 2020

28 September 2015

TOKYO 2020: Skateboarding is set to hit new heights in Australia after the sport took a giant leap towards joining the Olympic programme for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The sport’s youth appeal was no doubt a driving factor as the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee proposed six sports for the Game of the 32nd Olympiad.

Skateboarding, alongside surfing, baseball/softball, karate and sport climbing, will be presented to the IOC who will make a final decision at the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016.

The announcement is a major boost for Australian skateboarding and is likely to see the sport’s healthy participation levels grow even further.

"We have more skateparks in Australia per capita than any other country," said former skateboarding World Champion Renton Millar.

"It seems almost every suburb has at least an old beat up one, but we do have some of the best skateparks in the world. A lot of the global skate industry is made up of Australian companies, and we have the best skatepark builders in the world."

Millar believes that the sport’s inclusion to Olympic competition could convert the nation’s untapped talent into success on a global scale.

“Skateboarding in the Olympics would do amazing things for competition skating in Australia.

“For a scene that is so developed we really have a lacking of any sort of cohesive series in the main discipline of street skating.

“The Olympics would mean that there would be a focus on building a contest pathway from grass roots to the highest level.

“This would help ensure that we are translating our young athletes’ talents into results in high level competitions.”

This positive impact could see Australia make history and become one of the first medallists in the sport at Olympic level.

"There is some great junior skaters like Keegan Palmer who at 9 won the Australian Championships for bowl skating in the under 18 division, and at 12 has won Open Amateur contests in Europe, Brazil, USA, and of course in Australia. I think he is the best transition skateboarder in Australia and he is basically a child that skates like a man.

"Shane O’Neill (25) is one of our leading competition skaters and just about the most famous Aussie skater while Brad Saunders (13) is doing some great things competing in Asia. Poppy Ollson is also the girls over 15 World Amateur Champion in bowl.

“They could all trouble the world’s best at the Olympics.”

The competition would feature both street and park competitions with the world’s finest skateboarders fighting it out for Olympic glory.

“Street is the biggest discipline and it is both technical and gutsy. It comes from the street with blocks, stairs, ledges, hand rails to skate off just as you would see in a cityscape.

“Park evolved from pool and bowl skating and features plenty of big transitions.

While Millar admits he will not be looking to make a comeback for the Games he is keen to continue to help the sport progress in Australia.

“I believe that each athlete needs to keep their own individuality and creativity but I’d be happy to offer advice in any way I can.

“Skating has been such a fulfilling part of my life and to see the next generation have the opportunity to compete at Olympic level would be amazing.”

Matt Bartolo

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