Five reasons to get behind skateboarding at the Olympics 

Tokyo 2020 will have skateboarding at the Olympic Games for the first time. The inclusion has affected skating in some unexpected ways.

There’s no stopping it. Olympic qualification for Tokyo 2020 in skateboarding is underway.

While we watch to find out who will make it, here are some reasons to get behind skateboarding’s inclusion to the Olympic Games.

Women’s skateboarding

“(The Olympics is) a big opportunity for skateboarding to grow,” US skater Dashawn Jordan said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

It has meant contests are now running men’s and women’s competitions at the same time rather than separately.

“Whether it's for men or women, we're all one at the end of the day,” Jordan added.

Although, US skater Jenn Sotto believes that there’s still a pay gap.

“It’s definitely nowhere near (equal pay).”

“I feel like everywhere in the world beyond skateboarding – we still have got a lot of work to do.”

“It's a big opportunity for skateboarding to grow.
“It's a big opportunity for skateboarding to grow." Dashawn Jordan on Olympic inclusion“It's a big opportunity for skateboarding to grow." Dashawn Jordan on Olympic inclusion

More trips

Exploring new places is one of the joys of skateboarding.

Opportunities are now being created for some skaters to travel to contests and see parts of the world they have never visited.

Kendra Long is 13 and is already competing at a top international level.

She had never been to Europe before but then USA Skateboarding sent her an email inviting her to take part in the World Skate / SLS event in the UK.

“I was just in school. During eighth period, I was showing off going like, ‘I am going to London!’”

“It was awesome.”

As the calendar for Olympic qualification is built out, there could be more chances for people to travel the world to represent their nations and skate places they’ve never visited.

Kendra Long travelled to Europe for first time on Olympic skate trip
Kendra Long travelled to Europe for first time on Olympic skate tripKendra Long travelled to Europe for first time on Olympic skate trip

Skate parks are being built

The Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo will have two courses for both skateboarding disciplines: street and park.

The plan is for these to be permanent and available for skateboarders long after the Olympics finish.

“The guidance has been that the parks will look and feel like top international-level street and park courses that the skaters are used to,” Josh Friedberg, CEO of USA Skateboarding, said.

“But I’m sure they’ll be something special for the Olympics.”

"(It’s) one great positive about skating at the Olympics" Grassroots campaigner Stuart Maclure on building new skate spot in London's Olympic Park"(It’s) one great positive about skating at the Olympics" Grassroots campaigner Stuart Maclure on building new skate spot in London's Olympic Park

In London, there are plans for a new park to be built for the public.

Stuart Maclure helped save the legendary South Bank skate spot in central London.

Now, he's involved in plans to build a new spot in the London 2012 Olympic Park.

“(It’s) one great positive about skating at the Olympics,” Maclure said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“(The plan is to) use items that have been thrown away. We can re-purpose them and then use them to have skate schools and just be open to the public.”

Opportunities for African skaters

The way qualification works for the Olympics means that each continent should be represented.

There will be at least one participant from Africa in each of the four skateboarding events at Tokyo 2020.

Skateboarding has huge potential for growth in the continent.

South Africa’s Jean-marc Johannes has made it clear that he would like to represent his country at the Olympic Games.

"(It) would be more than a dream come true for me," Johannes said.

"It will also be a great motivation to aspiring athletes in the Cape Flats area... to chase their dreams."

It could also be the start of more African skaters finding their way into the Olympics.

Paving a potential Paralympic pathway

Skateboarding won't be at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

But that isn’t stopping skaters from trying to make it happen in the future.

“I will not rest until I see adaptive skaters at the Paralympic Games,” Oscar Loreto Jr said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“I will die happy. I have done my job.”

Oscar Loreto Jr hopes to bring skateboarding to the Paralympics
Oscar Loreto Jr hopes to bring skateboarding to the ParalympicsOscar Loreto Jr hopes to bring skateboarding to the Paralympics

Loreto Jr hopes that adaptive skaters will be invited to do a demo at more contests.

“Inclusion, opportunities, and exposure are the biggest needs right now (for adaptive skateboarding),” said Josh Friedberg from USA Skateboarding.

The Olympic Channel Podcast showcases the most inspirational and motivational stories around the Games every Wednesday.

Head here for ways to listen and subscribe.

Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends!