Record-breaking Sky Brown hoping to inspire other girls to take up skateboarding

“Stoked” at the prospect of becoming Great Britain’s youngest summer Olympian, 12-year-old Sky Brown is on a mission to use her platform to inspire more young girls to pick up a skateboard for the first time.

“I’m just excited to be in the Olympics,” said Brown, who will be 13 years and 11 days old when she steps out in Tokyo, eclipsed only by figure skater Cecilia Colledge, who was 11 at the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Games.

“Everyone around the world will be watching, and I feel like if I’m the little one in there going big, hopefully they (girls) will think, ‘maybe I can do it’, and I can show the world how fun and creative skateboarding is.”

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Such lofty ambitions sit comfortably with Brown, who will be joined in the two-person Team GB skateboard team by the New York-born Bombette Martin, a relative veteran at the age of 14.

Brown has lived most of her young life in the spotlight, having won the junior version of the US show ‘Dancing With The Stars’ aged 10 in 2018, and for some time harboured hopes of also being selected for the Olympics in surfing, a sport in which she first competed on a professional level at the age of eight.

She counts snowboarding superstar Shaun White as a close friend and neighbour in Malibu, and is a vocal advocate for the Skateistan charity project, which uses the sport to facilitate access to education for kids in under-privileged communities across the world.

Skateboard GB Team Announcement – Graystone Action Academy
Sky Brown will be joined by Bombette Martin in Team GB’s first skateboarding team (Peter Byrne/PA)

“If you go to a skate park it is mostly boys there,” said Brown, who was born in Miyazaki in Japan, to a Japanese mother and British father. “Now there’s more girls, which is cool, but I think girls are sometimes scared to be the only girl there and to be judged by the boys.

“But I feel like watching the Olympics and seeing how many girls are doing the sport and how good and fun it is, if they watch the Olympics they’re going to really want to do it.”

As well as being “stoked”, Brown described the feeling of qualifying for the Olympics, which was helped by her bronze medal in the park event at the 2019 World Championships in Sao Paolo, as “a crazy feeling” and “more than a dream come true.”

She added: “Everyone around the world will be watching, and I feel like if I’m the little one in there going big, hopefully they (girls) will think, maybe I can do it, and I can show the world how fun and creative skateboarding is.”

Brown’s achievement is all the more remarkable given the shocking injuries she sustained in a skateboarding accident last June, which left her with multiple fractures in her skull, and a broken left arm and fingers.

“It was a pretty bad accident,” Brown recalled. “I was knocked out for 12 to 16 hours. It was a really bad time – I couldn’t see my brother for the whole time, and only one of my parents could come in.

The Winter Youth Olympic Games Handout
Sky Brown hopes more girls will be inspired to take up skateboarding (PA Media)

“But I recovered really fast, and getting back on the board, I wasn’t scared at all, I was excited. I actually felt stronger after that. I wanted to do more things – I did the mega-ramp after that.”

Brown is too young to have many memories of the Olympics, or to have cultivated any particular sporting role models, although she is looking forward to meeting sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, saying: “She’s sweet and so good, and I love her.”

And whilst she appreciates the magnitude of appearing at the Olympics, and the extent to which it can facilitate her ongoing quest to inspire, Brown’s bottom line is simply excitement at getting another opportunity get back in a bowl.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2019 – Arrivals
Sky Brown attended the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in 2019 (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“I’m just thinking about blasting, going high, getting my kicks and getting my line, and having style,” Brown said.

“You’ll see lots of unexpected things. It’s going to be super-fun to watch.”