Nishiya, 13, takes gold as teenagers show how it's done

Sports | REUTERS 27 Jul 2021

Japanese 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya clinched the title in the women's street skateboarding competition yesterday, shedding tears of happiness after nailing her final trick and becoming the country's youngest-ever Olympic gold medal winner.

Nishiya came out on top of an unusually young field of competitors, with all three medallists in their teens. Brazilian silver medallist Rayssa Leal is also 13, while bronze medallist Funa Nakayama, also from Japan, is 16.

Her victory brought a skateboarding double for Japan after Yuto Horigome won gold in the men's street event on Sunday.

"I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy," Nishiya said, describing the moment when she realized she had won gold.

Another Japanese, Aori Nishimura, 19, also made the final round. She struggled after repeatedly stumbling in the finals and finishing last.

Ahead of a final round in which five of the eight competitors were in their teens, 34-year-old American Alexis Sablone said the young field was another sign the industry was taking women skaters more seriously.

Sablone, who placed fourth, said for years women skaters were not given the kind of lucrative sponsorship deals and star treatment their male equivalents received.

"For a long time there were way fewer females doing this and it's taken until now for enough people to pay attention, to get enough eyes on it, to inspire more girls around the world to start skating," said Sablone. "More power to them, it's wild to see."

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