Skateboarding: British teen Brown second in Olympic qualifier on return from horror injury

Sky Brown in the women's park final at the Dew Tour in Des Moines, US, on May 23, 2021, where she was second.
Sky Brown in the women's park final at the Dew Tour in Des Moines, US, on May 23, 2021, where she was second.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Skateboarder Sky Brown, who is hoping to become Britain's youngest summer Olympian, finished second in a Tokyo Games qualifier on Sunday (May 23), almost a year after the 12-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries in a training fall.

She underwent surgery for skull fractures and a broken wrist and hand after falling from a ramp in California in June last year.

Born to a Japanese mother and a British father, Brown finished second behind Japan's Sakura Yosozumi in the women's park event at the Dew Tour in Iowa.

Brown, who twice attempted a frontside rodeo 540 trick but failed both times, said she was not anxious about competing at the postponed July 23-Aug 8 Tokyo Games, where skateboarding will make its Olympic debut.

"I definitely want to do both my 5s (540 tricks) in the Olympics and maybe get on the podium, but really I'm just having fun skateboarding," Brown said.

"I'm always wonderfully surprised to see where it takes me. So, I'm not too stressed about the Olympics. I just want to see what happens and enjoy the journey."

The women's park event at the Olympics will have 20 athletes - three from the world championships, 16 from the Olympic World Skate rankings and one from host nation Japan.

Brown hopes to replace Margery Hinton as Britain's youngest summer Olympian. The swimmer was 13 years and 43 days old when she competed at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

Cecilia Colledge remains Britain's youngest Olympian, the figure skater competing at the 1932 Winter Olympics aged 11.

The news was not so good for another teenage skateboarder, 13-year-old Australian Charlotte Heath after she, a teammate and a coach tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the Des Moines qualifier.

As a result, the entire Australian team were disqualified as the group were deemed close contacts of the coach.

Melbourne skater Heath revealed on social media that she had tested positive. The identity of the other skater to test positive was still unclear.

"My understanding is the 13-year-old is very well supported by her sport and also ... by her parents or a parent over there," Australia's Olympic chef de mission Ian Chesterman told reporters on the Gold Coast on Monday (May 24).

"No one is showing severe symptoms, which is excellent, but it's obviously unfortunate for them to have that experience going into a qualifying event."

Australia's top-ranked female skateboarder Poppy Olsen said a number of skaters in the group would no longer be able to qualify for the park skating at Tokyo because the Iowa event was their last chance.

"They're pretty devastated because myself (and) another member, Keegan Palmer, we were the only two people that were really officially locked in to go to the Olympics," she told ABC radio. "Everyone else, this was their last shot to get in so ... it's pretty devastating for those girls."

Olsen added that most of the team members had only had one Covid-19 vaccine shot in Australia before travelling and had planned to get a second one in the United States.

"It was pretty difficult for us to get the vaccine in the first place ... I think we all knew the challenges and wanted to compete at this competition anyway, especially the people who really needed this competition as the last event to get points," she said.

Australia started vaccinating Olympic athletes two weeks ago after the national Olympic committee secured approval for priority access to vaccines.

Chesterman said the AOC did not have time to give the skateboarders two Pfizer shots before they left Australia to compete.