TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) – Representing their country, wearing a uniform and adapting to a team dynamic are some of the many changes that Olympic skaters have to get used to, but Australian duo Shane O’Neill and Hayley Wilson are determined to rise to the challenge.
Skateboarding, one of the ultimate emblems of the underground subculture, is making its debut at the Tokyo Games this year with events planned at Ariake Urban Sports Park on Tokyo’s waterfront.
Equally involving individual athletics and artistry, skateboarders perform gravity-defying tricks and tricks to the beat of loud music, in a high-risk, high-reward format that has drawn a loyal and young audience in the whole world.
“Fans can expect to see skateboarding in a truly competitive form,” said O’Neill, who, at 31, is the senior statesman of Australia’s five-member skateboarding team in Tokyo. .
“We can present skateboarding in a good way, show everyone what we can do. It’s definitely a new experience to be in a competition like this, competing with countries.
“Usually you do it for yourself, but it’s cool to be a part of that. We usually don’t really have uniforms and it’s different to be on the team, but it’s great. cool and I’m thrilled to be a member of this project. “
For Wilson, 19, the opportunity to represent her country and promote the sport she started at age eight on the biggest international stage of all is its own reward.
“This is definitely an incredible opportunity for us skaters,” she said. “We’ve never experienced something this big. It’s really exciting to be in the (Olympic) village, to wear green and gold, to represent our country.
“Skating is a kind of artistic sport, it’s so different, every run is different. You have such a selection of different tricks to choose from. It’s so cool and so unique that we can show what we have in it. our own ways. “
For veteran O’Neill, the layout of the Ariake Urban Sports Park will provide plenty of opportunities for skateboarders to show off their individual skills and entertain fans around the world.
“Each skater is going to do a different lap and (the course) really allows you to skate exactly the way you want. It’s cool for me and for the skaters to be able to do their best in their own way,” he said. declared. .
“It makes it a really cool experience for people to watch because it’s not just everyone skating and doing the same thing.
“I love watching other sports and their traditional ways, but with skating it’s very different.”
Report by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge
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