What’s new: Absolutely everything. Skateboarding is one of four sports making its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, along with karate, surfing and climbing sports. As was the case when its winter sport cousin, snowboarding, joined the Olympic program in 1998, some skateboarders feared the sport was selling out. But the Olympic spotlight will introduce skating to a vast global audience and, as proved to be true in snowboarding, will likely attract more children to skating and encourage them to pursue the sport and their daring moves.
Tokyo Expectations: For its inaugural Olympic competition, 40 men and 40 women have a custom-built skate park on the shores of Tokyo Bay to play. They will chase medals in two events: the park, where they skate in a bowl, and the alley, where they navigate stairs, rails, curbs and other urban furniture. Skateboarding will have the widest age-spectrum of sports, with competitors ranging from pre-teen to middle age.
Athletes to watch: Hosts Japan will be looking for a medal in the women’s park competition from top-ranked Misugu Okamoto and Sakura Yosozumi as well as 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki. British phenom Sky Brown, who is just 13 years old, will try to stop them. With no fear stunts and a polished message that age is irrelevant, Brown already has a rich portfolio of sponsors and social media accounts. She is back from a terrible fall last year – the video of which was posted to an Instagram account managed by her parents.
Gold medal moments: Street competitions take place in the first week, with men competing on 25 July, followed by women the next day. The park’s events take place in the second week, with the women’s competition on 4 August, with the men falling into the bowl the next day.