Japan sweep Asian skateboard medals

Japanese teenager Kensuke Sasaoka entertaining about 100 fans as he wins the men's category in the Vans Park Series Asian Continental skateboarding championships.
Japanese teenager Kensuke Sasaoka entertaining about 100 fans as he wins the men's category in the Vans Park Series Asian Continental skateboarding championships.PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Local extreme sports fans were treated to an afternoon of tricks and flips yesterday at the Vans Park Series Asian Continental skateboarding championships.

Top skateboarders from around Asia converged at the Xtreme skate park along East Coast Park to compete for a spot at the World Championships in Shanghai one month later.

There are two main competition categories in skateboarding, park - which is usually an arena "dug out" from the ground, and street - an open area featuring urban obstacles such as rails and benches.

Japanese skateboarders took all three podium spots for both genders.

Kihana Ogawa, 16, came out tops in the women's division while the gold in the men's division went to 18-year-old Kensuke Sasaoka. The duo are now headed for China.

The 25-man field included nine Singaporean skateboarders - an encouraging sign for veteran Feroze Rahman.

The 26-year-old primarily competes in the "street" category, and was the highest local finisher in the competition, coming in 12th.

He said: "I think it's really awesome that (the Vans Park Series is) happening in Singapore, it really puts Singapore on the map.

"It's great to see everyone coming down, the crowd, the best skateboarders in Asia, it really created a good atmosphere, comparable to some of the international competitions I've been to."

Feroze and his brothers, Farris (22) and Firdaus (30), are widely considered to be the best local skateboarders, with international titles such as the Asian X Games under their belts.

For another local Rocky Chann, the competition was a good chance to test himself, having only started in the sport a few months ago.

"I would love to have more such events in the local scene to encourage more Singaporeans to take up skateboarding, especially since the facilities here are so good." he said.

The 16-year-old student has lofty ambitions, with skateboarding to be an Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020.

"Dreaming for it (to compete) is once thing, working for it is another. But definitely for me, skateboarding is a passion."

Yesterday's competition drew about 100 fans; one of them was Ariff Munshi, who watched the event together with his family.

The 32-year-old entrepreneur used to skateboard when he was younger. He said:"The kids these days, I don't know what they eat but they are a whole new level compared to us in the early 2000s."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'Japan sweep Asian skateboard medals'. Print Edition | Subscribe