LOS ANGELES • Twelve-year-old skateboarding prodigy Sky Brown has fully recovered from her life-threatening fall last May and plans to broaden her horizons by adding surfing to her Olympic schedule.
Brown, who will be the only female member of Team Britain when skateboarding makes its highly anticipated debut at the Tokyo Games from July 23 to Aug 8, suffered skull fractures and a broken wrist and hand after she fell from a half-pipe in southern California.
She was taken by helicopter to the hospital, where she underwent surgery and her father Stewart later said she was lucky to be alive.
Brown feels the harrowing experience has only added fuel to her considerable fire.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," she told Reuters from her home in Oceanside, California. "It just made me feel like I want to push harder, go stronger and show that even if you fall, you've got to get back up."
Brown excelled on both boards and is set to become a formidable dual-threat Olympian.
"I love surfing as much as I love skating," said the bronze medallist at the 2019 World Skateboarding Championships in the park discipline. "That would be my dream."
A spokesman for Brown said it is still possible for her to qualify for Britain's surfing team in Tokyo but she would first need to compete in the British Cup, and it is unclear if she will be allowed to do so.
If not, she will have to wait until the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Competing in both sports would greatly expand Brown's medal-earning opportunities and make her a potentially transformational Olympic figure at a time when the Games are trying to appeal to a younger demographic.
When the Los Angeles Games roll around in 2028, she will still be a teenager and, if she can stay healthy, her potential is staggering.
Like every Olympic athlete, Brown, who was born to a Japanese mother and a British father, was forced to cope with the disappointment of the one-year delay of the Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus.
She used the time to improve on all aspects of her skating.
"I think I got better," she said. "I'm going higher now, I've learned some new tricks and I can't wait. "It's going to be really cool. All the girls are getting better too, so now we'll just have a better show."
She added staying active during the pandemic has been key to her well-being and inspired her to partner Plum Play, which makes backyard equipment like trampolines and climbing structures.
Through her fall and recovery, Brown has remained upbeat and focused on inspiring others, especially aspiring female athletes.
"Be brave, be strong, have fun and do it because you love it," she said. "And don't let anybody stop you."