Britain’s teenage skateboarding star Sky Brown says her comeback from a horrific crash last year, which left her with a broken skull, was motivated by trying to show girls that nothing can get in their way.
Although selection is yet to be confirmed, she is likely to become Team GB’s youngest ever summer Olympian this summer, turning 13 shortly before the Games get underway in Japan - her second home.
Tokyo 2020’s delay could not have been better timed for Brown. A video of her training crash last summer went viral and resulted in injuries that included a skull fracture and a broken left wrist and hand. You would expect an incident like it would shatter confidence, but Brown’s wired differently.
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“The opposite,” she told Eurosport.
I was motivated to go harder and to just get back out there. I wanted to show girls around the world that nothing should ever stop you.
“Skateboarding can be dangerous depending on what you do. I’m always pushing myself to do new things, but I also make sure that I’m wearing a helmet on dangerous things as well. You have to be smart when you’re pushing the limits.
“The whole day was very scary. I’m grateful that my whole family was there to support me in my recovery.”
Brown has been on the radar for the past few years, especially since winning World Championship bronze as an 11-year-old in 2019, but she appears to be taking fame in her stride. Born to a British father and Japanese mother, she splits her time between Japan and the US, attending schools in both countries.
She is extremely well known around the world, and even took part in America’s junior version of Strictly Come Dancing, winning Dancing with the Stars: Juniors. She takes time to do the things any teenage girl would do, and enjoys making vlogs with her younger sister, Ocean. Fame does not phase her, though, and she insists she feels no pressure.
“Honestly, no. I have fun in everything I do,” she said.
I skate and surf because it’s fun, not because I have to, or that I’m ‘training’. I love so many things besides skateboarding and surfing, like I said - kick boxing, dancing, singing, TikTok, Instagram…
“I think ‘training’ would take the fun out of it. I also still go to school, take dance lessons, kick boxing, and so many other things!
“[Skateboarding is] even more fun, since now I’ve met so many amazing people from around the world. If I can use what I do to inspire others, then I am happy.”
That pressure, intensity and media interest is only going to increase as the Games get closer - not least because she will be in a unique position for a Team GB athlete, in that she will effectively receive home support in Tokyo.
With no overseas fans permitted to attend because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is still no announcement on how many spectators will be at venues. But as she is half-Japanese, Brown can expect some backing.
“My other option was to represent Japan,” said Brown.
GB’s style was much more like mine. I skate and surf for fun, and they really understood that. Any pressure I have comes from myself, not from a country or anyone else.
“I think it’s kinda cool that Japanese citizens can still attend. I’m still excited that I get to go back to Japan.
“I’m used to the hot and humid weather. Maybe that will help me!
“I would be so excited [to get on the podium]. I’m competing because it’s what I love, not because I’m thinking about winning or losing!”
Brown’s practice has barely been affected by the pandemic, taking part in an outdoor sport, though she says at first so many skate parks were closed that her family had to drive her a long way to get on a board. When the Games were postponed, she admits she was disappointed at first, but got over it quickly.
“It was my dream to be the youngest Olympian, and I thought I would lose that dream.
I realised that it didn’t really matter. It’s much more important that people are safe and healthy, and we will compete when we can. It’s all just for fun anyway!
Brown’s refreshing laid back attitude, infectious enthusiasm and youthful energy will be one of the star attractions in Tokyo, and she may bring home a medal for Team GB, too.
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