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Nyjah Huston and skateboarding are Olympic – but is the sport sold out? | Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

HJustin Bieber moderated his private skate park and was a guest alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the TV show Ballers. Nyjah Huston now wants to become an Olympic champion, as skateboarding celebrates its premiere in Tokyo.

Medals are awarded in two disciplines in the Ariake Urban Sports Park. On the street, participants skate on outdoor furniture and obstacles such as handrails, benches and stairs. Park offers airy tricks in steep bowls.

A formidable competitor in a soft sport, Huston is the favorite taking gold on the road and adding to his reputation and winning record collection that has earned him wealth and fame. With six world titles and 12 X Games wins, the trophy room in the 26-year-old’s villa overlooking the ocean in Laguna Beach is overcrowded.

Even on his skin, which is almost completely covered with tattoos, there is not much space. Among the varied body art: the grim reaper, a lion’s skull, a pineapple, a ferret on a skateboard, a tombstone with the words “See you soon” and a waffle. “What can I say?” he said GQ. “I love waffles.”

He approached his career in a more focused manner, exercising with obsessive discipline since the age of five and mastering tricks one after the other. At the age of seven he had a sponsorship deal. At 10 he won notable competitions; At 11 he became a professional.

“I don’t know if any of us imagined that we would ever be up here preparing for the Olympics,” he told reporters before heading to Tokyo. “But we all worked for this from an early age, even before it was possible.”

Huston was born in Davis, California and raised a vegan by Rastafarian parents. “Our father made us skate and built many ramps for us around our yard. My parents bought an indoor skate park in 2003, which was a perfect training facility for me, ”he told NBC.

He grew up partly in Fiji and on a farm in Puerto Rico, where the family lived on the proceeds of marijuana sales, his mother Kelle told Jenkem magazine. “We deliberately separated from society and basically lived as a mini-cult,” she said.

It wasn’t the ideal environment to develop his skills, so he returned to California to advance his ambitions. “My success as a young athlete contributed to a great disagreement between my parents and my mother had to make the final decision to leave. Unfortunately, my father has nothing to do with us or my career, ”he told NBC.

It’s easy to see why the organizers would welcome the participation of an athlete with 4.7 million followers on Instagram to increase the appeal of the Olympics and attract a young audience.

Still, some purists may complain that a sport with countercultural roots and a rebellious spirit has joined the establishment, and fear that the pressure to succeed in such a high profile competition could destroy the calm atmosphere of skateboarding.

But the influx of big corporate money isn’t new – after all, Nike is one of Huston’s sponsors and promotes shoe and sunglasses collections. Just in time for Tokyo, he launched his own brand Disorder Skateboards last month. And the unprecedented reach of the Olympics offers opportunities for broader growth.

Most famous skateboarding name Tony Hawk is a television analyst in Japan. “As a kid who was verbally abused for my interest in skateboarding, I never imagined that it would be part of the Olympics. It is surreal to witness this milestone now in Tokyo under the most unprecedented circumstances, ”wrote the 53-year-old.

“I know that in the end it will help raise the profile of skateboarding internationally by showing our passion to an audience that has never seen it before or has simply refused to embrace it. A whole new generation will experience skateboarding with real public support and meaningful opportunities. “

Canadian skater Micky Papa, 30 years old, takes part in the men’s street competition that takes place on Sunday; the women’s event is a day later, while the park competitions are held from August 4th to 5th.

“I want to speak to any of the younger skaters who might say, ‘Oh, the Olympics are crazy.’ I was listening to a business podcast the other day and they were talking about coffee shops. The main one is Starbucks, and it’s like the Olympics – everyone knows Starbucks and everyone knows the Olympics, ”he told reporters this week.

“Starbucks now attracts so many newcomers to coffee culture there, but from there they can explore other sides of the culture – your local cafes on the corner or different types of coffee making, what about? real street skating or different types of competitions or other different parts of skateboarding culture that people want to explore.

“Without this mainstream presence, we will always be small. I think what we have in skateboarding is so great that we can share it with the whole world, and if we do it that way then we do it that way because this is the biggest stage there is. “And there isn’t any greater presence than Huston; no one is better at molding Grinds into fame.

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