ENTERTAINMENT

Why Teen Skateboarders Are The Breakout Stars Of The Olympics

"For so long the industry has really ignored females and given us no spotlight."
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The Olympic games are hosting skateboarding for the first time in its history. The milestone is excitedly coinciding with the rise of young female skateboarders, finally receiving support from the male-dominated sport.

WATCH: Aimee Massie Skating. 

Compared to many sports, skateboarding is inherently unique because it started as a counterculture movement, but also it attracts young athletes who are pushing incredible boundaries.

Teenage girls are rapidly becoming the faces of skateboarding, and this has been made more than clear at Japan’s Olympics.

Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, 13, is the fifth-youngest Olympian ever to win gold, and in her statement to reporters, she made it clear that this achievement isn’t an outlier.

“Girls can skateboard,” said Momiki.

Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, 13, took home silver against Momiji, and she echoed a similar and empowered testament in her post comp interview.

She said, “Now, I can convince all my friends to skateboard everywhere with me; skateboarding is for everyone.”

On theme with the trend of young badass girls representing their countries in skateboarding at the games, the youngest player overall is Syria’s Hend Zaza, who is just 12 years old.  

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, United States professional skateboarder Alexis Sablone spoke about how their male peers in the industry have historically neglected women and that it has taken the Olympics to solidify their presence.

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Rayssa Leal and Momiji Nishiya placing silver and bronze at the Street Skate World Championships 2021. (Credit: Instagram)

“I think for so long the industry has really ignored females and given us no spotlight.

“You don’t see women on the covers of magazines, and sponsors aren’t paying women. So I think this has given the females in skateboarding a platform that can’t really be ignored. There’s a podium. Suddenly the industry will start paying attention. I wish it hadn’t taken this to legitimise us, but it’s a step in that direction.”

Australia’s skateboarding team features two young women, Poppy Starr Olsen, 21 and Hayley Wilson, 19.

Poppy is the country’s highest-ranking skater, and The Boardr reports she currently ranks 15 in the world.

She burst onto the scene in 2019 when she was featured in the Nike SB Team Video Gizmo, and she’s performed at X Games Shanghai, Street League London, and secured 4th place at Dew Tour Long Beach.

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Rayssa Leal celebrating her silver medal. (Credit: Instagram)

She is sponsored by Vans, which is incredible considering how hard it is for women to receive sponsorship from major brands, which is how skaters make most of their income.

In an interview with the Herald Sun, Poppy spoke about how it feels to represent her country at the big games.

“It is history in itself, and I am very excited.

“It is super amazing to be representing Australia. I am honoured to be a part of it.

“It feels pretty surreal and amazing to become an Olympian, knowing you’ve worked so hard for something,” said Poppy.

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“It feels pretty surreal and amazing to become an Olympian.” (Credit: Instagram)

Hayley Wilson is already doing a great job shredding it at the games, she came 16th in Women’s Street Heat 4, and she placed 11th in Women’s Street Heat 3.

The 19-year-old is a five-time national champion who began skating at 7 when she brought her first board at the Reject Shop, as reported by the Victorian Institute of Sport.

She’s also a keen snowboarder and surfer.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, she talked about making the team and her big dreams to bring home gold.

“I came from a small town where when I was younger, I didn’t have the opportunity or facilities like there were in Melbourne, so to now be skating at the Olympics is so wild,” she said.

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Hayley has had an incredible career, and more is to come. (Credit: Instagram)

“I think it shows that anything is possible. To be going down in history is a feeling that can’t be described.”

It’s incredible to witness skateboarding entering this new and groundbreaking era that uplifts its incredibly fierce female competitors.

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