The limelight is nothing new for skateboarder Sky Brown, who has grown up with media attention and is a “future superstar for the digital age”, says the BBC. However, her life will “never be the same again” after she became Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medallist.
Aged 13 years and 28 days, Brown won bronze in the women’s skateboarding park event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, finishing behind Japanese duo Sakura Yosozumi, 19, who won gold, and Kokona Hiraki, 12, who took the silver.
Brown replaces Sarah Hardcastle, who was 15 years and 113 days old when she won silver and bronze in the pool in Los Angeles, as Britain’s youngest summer Olympic Games medallist. She also overtakes silver medal-winning figure skater Cecilia Colledge, who turned 15 just a couple of months before the 1936 winter games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
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“I’m so stoked - it’s unbelievable,” Brown said at the Ariake Sports Park. “I’m so happy to be on the podium with these guys, it’s insane. The medal feels unreal, it’s like a dream. I can’t wait to show the medal to my family and friends. Sakura [Yosozumi, gold medallist] said, ‘you’ve got it Sky, I know you’re going to make it’, and that really made me feel better.”
In the final the eight skateboarders had an average age of 17 - proving age is just a number. Brown hopes her performance will be the catalyst for more youngsters to take up the sport. “I really hope I inspire some girls,” she added. “I feel like people think I’m too young and I can’t do it but, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I believed in myself and I’m here.”
The Guardian’s Andy Bull said Brown put on such a good show in the final that it “could almost have been scripted for TV - or YouTube”.
The path to stardom
Born in Miyazaki, Japan, to a British dad and Japanese mum, Brown splits her time between Japan and California. “Fittingly for a fully-paid up member of Gen Z, the Sky Brown story is intertwined with the rise of social media”, says The Telegraph. “It was on Facebook that an innocuous video of Brown, then a four-year-old, first put her on a path to stardom.”
“My dad didn’t want me to skate,” Brown told the Telegraph. “I was about two or three. There was the backyard mini ramp which he built and his friends were skating every day. The skateboard was my favourite toy.”
As well as being the youngest female professional skateboarder in the world, she is also the youngest Nike-sponsored athlete and has appeared in adverts with Serena Williams and Simone Biles. She’s already worth $5m (£3.58m), has 1.1m followers on Instagram and 290,000 subscribers on the YouTube account she shares with brother Ocean. After the bronze medal in Tokyo “her fame and fortune is expected to soar further”, the Daily Mail says.
‘Accident made me stronger’
Going into the Tokyo Olympics, Brown was a bronze medalist from the 2019 World Skateboarding Championship and in July she won the women’s skateboarding park gold medal at the X Games.
However, in May last year Brown had a horrific fall from a ramp in training and her injuries included multiple skull fractures, a broken wrist and a black eye. A video on her YouTube channel called “My Worst Fall Yet” has had 3.4m views.
Brown is “one of the beneficiaries of the Tokyo Games being postponed by a year”, the BBC says. Her place would have been in doubt had they gone ahead in 2020.
Just over a year on from the fall, the emotion was clear as she broke down in tears on the podium collecting the bronze medal in Tokyo.
“I honestly feel that accident made me stronger,” Brown said. “That accident was pretty bad. It was a hard time for my parents and a hard time for a lot of people and coming back and getting the bronze is really cool. I’m really happy. It’s really made me stronger.
“I did speak to my mum and my brother and my mum was crying. I’m so excited to see my brother [Ocean, age nine]. He really gets me pumped up when I’m in a contest he goes ‘go Sky’, he screams and I really wish he was here.”
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